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Tech support, well-being and self-employment

Vince Sammon

November 26, 2020

mortgage mum

Vince Sammon is founder and chief executive of Sammon Mortgages and Ladder

I’m sure that the majority of you out there are reading this whilst sat at your desk, probably somewhere at home, either on your own or getting regular interruptions from pets and/or family members.

It may be the case that you are in full employment, you might be a contractor or you might have your own company.

Whatever our employment status, I suspect there have been times over the past six months or so where we have all considered our next steps, be this in our personal or business lives, or maybe a combination of the two.

Many people dream of being their own boss but don’t actually end up making that final step for a variety of reasons. As a founder of a business which is looking to grow our self-employed adviser arm, it’s important to gather intelligence into what might help or hinder this transition.

With this in mind, it was interesting to read a recent study from The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) entitled ‘What does the rise of self-employment tell us about the UK labour market?’.

The IFS report outlined that self-employment in the UK has risen dramatically since the 1970s.

In 1975, one in twelve workers was self-employed; by 2019, this had increased to one in seven workers. Following a brief inversion of the trend in the late 1990s, self-employment has been rising steadily since 2000.

This rise has been largely driven by a rise in ‘solo self-employment’ – own-account workers without employees – who now account for one in eight workers.

The vast majority (85% in 2019) of the solo self-employed are sole traders – unincorporated businesses with a single owner and no employees. The share of self-employed workers with employees has been declining since the late 1980s.

This has resulted in a profound shift in the nature of self-employment. By the end of 2019, there were nearly 4 million solo self-employed workers in the UK, up from 2.3 million in 2000.

The report also added that well-being is higher among the solo self-employed. Prior to the pandemic, solo self-employed people had higher levels of job satisfaction.

A greater number were likely to report being happy, with lower levels of anxiety than employees and considered their lives worthwhile.

That said, the well-being of the self-employed – as measured in relatively stable economic times – may not fully account for the additional risks and insecurities that some of them face during more turbulent times, such as the current crisis.

From speaking to advisers in recent weeks, it’s fascinating to hear how their self-employed expectations are changing, even from the start of this year, and how much they are valuing additional support in a variety of forms to help alleviate some of these risks and insecurities.

With more consumers valuing the advice process, unsurprisingly we are also seeing advisers placing an even greater value on their time than ever before.

By this I don’t necessary mean charging fees, although this is a valid option for some. I mean in terms of how they are working and the efficiencies they are looking to integrate on a daily basis.

When recruiting self-employed advisers, it’s often – but not always – the case that they tend to fall into two categories.

One that focuses on the commission split and one which really values the front and back-office tech support on offer from our Ladder platform.

Some self-employed advisers are lead generating machines who are able concentrate on volume.

Others focus more on ensuring that their clients are fully protected and this allows them to maximise all relevant revenue streams.

By this I mean protection, referrals for other services (such as conveyancing, pensions etc.) and regular engagement with their clients when their circumstances may change.

Now I’m not saying there is a right or wrong approach, each and every adviser has their own way of working.

But whatever their methodology, access to the right kind of tech tools and solutions will prove to be the key to success for those advisers who are looking towards, or already on, the self-employed path.


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