Given that we run a network and deal with AR firms 24/7, I appreciate how much thought and effort go in to the decision AR firms make when choosing their principal partner.
There are many facets to that decision, not least the services and opportunities on offer. Add to this the compliance responsibilities and other factors such as technology, or marketing expertise, and there is much to consider.
One of the main concerns, of course, is cost. Thankfully, our conversations have been the same for the past 11 years as we have not changed our fees or structure since then, and we have no plans to do so. The fact that we are mortgage and protection specialists and have no involvement in wealth management is a major reason for this.
But for some networks, fees appear to be constantly on the move and usually rising, with outside events seeming to dictate the move. The FSCS levy goes up; so do the fees. The network suffers in one area and all AR firms suffer through increased fees.
It seems an incredible way to run a business with apparently no ‘wiggle room’ should these ‘unexpected’ additions to the cost base arise. Effectively, the network is saying that any increases in cost will be immediately passed down to the AR firms. How can they expect those firms to plan and prepare their own budgets if their fee costs can change in an instant?
AR firms need certainty over how much they will be paying and, if their network is not prepared to offer this, they should look to move elsewhere as soon as possible.