Helping brokers to go it alone
Lesley Sharkey (pictured), recruitment director at Stonebridge Group
The entrepreneurial zeal of many within the advice industry is often plain to see, and for many individuals there comes a time when, to quote Freddie Mercury, they ‘want to break free’.
Of course, everyone who starts out in this industry appreciates the opportunity to learn and develop within an advisory practice. Indeed, we might say that it’s absolutely essential for advisers to have that grounding, experience, client contact, and everything else that comes with this. During this time advisers may be securing qualifications, learning on the job and (perhaps) working out where they might fit within this industry.
But, for many, as that experience grows, so does the belief in their own abilities, the opportunities that present themselves, and perhaps the innate understanding that they might wish to be masters of their own domain and, for want of a better phrase, do it themselves.
As a network we see this time and time again and what is sometimes surprising is the number of advisers who have been thinking about this for many years and have not yet acted upon it. Then you hear their concerns, particularly about the compliance responsibilities and the fact that going it alone means taking a considerable risk, and it’s perhaps not so surprising.
Take, for instance, the large number of events and exhibitions Stonebridge attends. I almost guarantee that, at every event, you’ll see an adviser wandering round with their boss and sizing up your stand. A little later on, and sans boss, they will return and tell you how they’d like to set up on their own but are wary about the risk, and therefore want to know what a network like ours can do to make the process easier and to give them the confidence that they’re doing the right thing.
And it’s this confidence arrangement between adviser and (potential) network that can be the most vital. In their heads they may well have decided that setting up their own business is the right thing to do, but actually moving that forward to a point where it is going to happen can be altogether trickier.
For some, the solution might lie in something of a half-way house. Perhaps they become self-employed, move from their existing firm, but tie-up with a Stonebridge member firm, on the understanding that they receive all that backing and support, but eventually they will be going it alone.
Or they grasp the nettle straight away and I think it’s at this point that networks like Stonebridge can really prove their worth, because however long you have worked in the industry, it can be something of a culture shock to establish your own firm, to be responsible for everything in that firm, and to set yourself on a particular course.
We can’t really get away from the fact that regulatory responsibilities and ensuring your compliance with them can be a major obstacle for some. That’s why many early-stage firms opt for an AR arrangement and choose us, simply because they can have 100% confidence that we will look after their compliance and – if they work correctly – they’ll have no problems.
Of course, in other areas, like access to lenders and providers, being part of a network simply works. Then there’s the added benefit of being able to use our software platform, Revolution, which gives them real structure and ensures they are fully on top of their client work, missing no opportunity in the process. Having that fully rounded service straight away ensures the adviser’s new firm can hit the ground running.
So while I’m not expecting a mass exodus of advisers from their existing firms, if you are considering your future outside of your current employer, and especially if you feel the urge to set up your own business, then please ensure you avail yourself of all the options available. There may be more than you think and when it comes to setting yourself up, one size needn’t have to fit all.