Ready to return to normal? Or something better?

Luke Somerset

May 14, 2020

Luke Somerset is chief commercial officer at John Charcol

Whilst much of the impact of COVID-19 can be measured sadly, in lives lost, R rates and in time GPD, we’re yet to fully appreciate the sociological impact of the virus.

We’re working from home en masse, many of us actually finding a long-needed work/life balance – albeit within the confines of our homes.

Despite the seemingly perpetual gloom and doom, John Charcol – like many other networks – have seen a rise in the number of brokers looking to join our ranks as self-employed advisers. In fact, in the midst of the pandemic we’ll add over 20 fresh faces to our supported network package – perhaps small fry in big network terms, but a marked step for us.

For many of these new joiners, self-employment is not something which has been thrust upon them; quite the contrary. Instead, they’ve made conscious decisions to change their futures for the better, taking home significantly bigger shares of the income they generate whilst gaining the ability to dictate their working patterns.

It seems that uncertainty has just fuelled an internal desire to be the master of one’s own destiny.

It’s a well-trodden path in our industry and a logical step for many brokers who have cut their teeth in employment just to find their careers and income languishing – or in the current climate, a lack of certainty over their future.

So, what should brokers consider when taking the step into self-employment?

Baby step or quantum leap?

There are numerous financial packages available across the market for self-employed brokers so, before you compare what share of your income you’ll receive, you should first consider whether you intend to take a baby step or a quantum leap.

A baby step will likely lead to you joining a supported network package that offers leads and admin support as a minimum. What this means varies significantly between networks. For us, a lead is a new client on the end of the phone – but that isn’t the case for every network.

This scenario often removes the need for a broker to create their own “brand”, thus alleviating the pressure for you to become a “master of marketing” overnight.

A quantum leap may take the form of you setting up your own business with all that’s entailed in doing so.

For many brokers, marketing one’s own business presents the greatest challenges and there are various levels of support on offer from networks to help you with this.

It’s a good idea to look at each network’s own marketing materials as these will reflect the quality of support you can expect to receive.

The commercials

In reality, there’s not much difference in margins between networks and – given that a few percent can mean the difference of a couple of extra cases – finding a network that will offer you the support you need is arguably a more crucial decision than whether one network will pay a few percent more.

As a guide, however, our own supported package offers a 50% income share on the leads which are provided to you and a 65% income share on anything that you self-generate.

Where brokers are confident that they can self-generate their own business, a share of 85% is on offer. You shouldn’t face any arbitrary restrictions moving between packages.

The community

Something that’s perhaps less tangible or even appears somewhat irrelevant – after all, self-employment suggests operating in isolation – is the support from your fellow brokers, particularly their ability to help each other with complex cases.

It’s easy to take the wealth of experience within our network for granted – many of the UK’s most well-respected mortgage advisers work for us.

The benefits of sharing knowledge have become all too clear over the last month, with our brokers collectively supporting one another, providing solutions and key contacts with lenders.

Not to mention that many of us who have lived through tougher financial times can provide solace to the younger generation.

This is not a network where people operate in isolation. It’s a team of brilliant brokers who come together for individual and collective benefit.

As ministerial debate turns towards returning to the new normal, we should all take the opportunity to decide what shape “normal” will take for each of us.

Uncertainty could well be your opportunity to gain control over the facets of your life which matter most to you.

What will normal look like for you?

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