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Which network is right for you?

Network Consulting can help you find the right mortgage or wealth network, simply fill in the enquiry form, talk us through your requirements and we will guide you in making the right choice for your business. 

Read on for more tips on finding a network;

If you're looking for a network for the first time or changing from your current network, either as a sole trader or multi adviser operation, a good place to start is to know and document your true business drivers along with your short, medium and long term business goals.

From here, you will then need to consider the following;

  • What do I want from the network 
  • How will they help me achieve my business goals
  • What do they offer that benefits my business
  • What features of the proposition benefits my business the most

It is highly unlikely that you will get everything you want and being an Appointed Representative (AR) you will have to follow strict guidelines, processes and procedures. If you feel that this could be too prescriptive for you, you may wish to consider going Directly Authorised (DA), however you will need to fully understand the requirements of taking that path before doing anything. If like many, you feel that the protection and support offered by a network suits your business, it's likely that you may need to compromise on one or more elements. So the next step for you is to prioritise any features on your wish list. Start this by asking yourself;

  • What must I have from my network?
  • What would be nice to have from my network?
  • What do I definitely not want?

The answers to these questions will help you prioritise your requirements and narrow down the network propositions suited to you. However, Network Consulting can walk you through this process by consulting with you, taking your needs, requirements, elements you want and elements you don't want, all in to consideration. 

We bench-mark the numerous network offerings in the market and behind the scenes we monitor their financial health using the latest data available from highly regarded rating agencies.  With all this information we will be able to make a recommendation of the best fit available for you, this will be backed up with a personalised individual summary report.

To get you thinking about which network features are important to you, you may wish to consider the following;

  • Compliance regime
  • Support
  • Business development
  • Technical help desk 
  • Technology 
  • Research tools
  • Marketing support
  • Charging structure
  • Product provider panels 
  • Service standards
  • How they treat their members
  • Exit charges

A network is a great place for an advisory business, providing it is servicing the needs of its AR firms. They offer protection and guidance in regulatory matters, they bear many of the financial strains and offer a solid buffer between you and the regulator. They use economies of scale to negotiate better rates or exclusive services and products. The relationship between you and a network can prove to be a great life long business marriage if... the fit is good, there is mutual respect, both value each other and advisory processes are adhered to. The key for an adviser or AR firm, and a network for that matter, is making the right choice of who they partner with in the first place, which is why getting independent guidance is so important and a valuable investment of time.

A big reason that many AR's leave their current network, is poor service standards, frequently many state that they don't feel valued any more or that they are just a number. Enforced change is another reason, being dragged along with whatever directional decisions for the benefit of the network or their shareholders, not necessarily for the benefit of its member AR firms. 

It is true that networks do have to make changes in line with regulatory policy statements and to protect the longevity of the network for all, however, some changes may appear to be destructive or result in a reduction in the attractiveness of the proposition. In these circumstances it may well be time to think for your business. If change is enforced, then perhaps it's time to take control of your business's future and make changes that are best for you

As an AR you will want a network that values its member AR firms and has a structure that is fit for purpose, a fair charging structure,  can service the needs of their members and has longevity, with good financial management. 

Having a compliance department or business development managers that don't return calls when you need them, illustrates a lack of care and unsurprisingly, will make anyone question if they are valued. 

Getting paid fees, commissions or on going service charges in a timely manner and the correct amount is the lifeblood of your business. If this is interrupted, not only is inconvenient for you, it could spell the first indication that all is not well, so you should be wary of this.

Recently networks have come under more scrutiny from FCA to ensure their systems and controls, oversight and authorisation of new AR and Registered Individual (RI) members is up to the required standard. The implementation of what is known as the AR Regime was the outcome of industry consultation which was launched in December 2021. In which the FCA put forward a range of proposals to improve the AR model, including enhancing oversight requirements and requiring principals to provide the regulator with more information to help it identify issues faster.  As a result of this, networks are requesting more information from their member AR firms and if you are Joining a network either for the first time or from another network, there will be a more intrusive application process than it previously has been. 

The guidance set out by the FCA under AR Regime has a "go live" date of 8th December 2022 after lengthily implementation period. Although each principal firm will have to adhere to the regime, the application of the AR Regimes remit may well differ from network to network. 

Other considerations when choosing a network are;

Company ownership - Venture capitalists or other larger financial institutional investors/owners may have an influence on senior management and direction of the business. 

Change management history - How well has the network dealt with enforced change or implementation of new systems or processes in the past?


Application process - How long will this take, what changes have been made as part of the AR regime, what will they do to help the transition between networks or joining?

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