Network Review: Glass half full, or glass half empty

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Performance figures are down across the board, but a glance behind the numbers reveals that it is not all bad news

The general performance of networks in terms of recruitment figures has, much to my surprise, not been that rosy this quarter.

This information comes from the FCA’s register on its website and is an accurate reflection of that data at the time it was compiled, but you should be aware that retrospective changes to the register can occur as a result of late notifications.

Consequently, the tables are extremely useful to show trends but may vary slightly over time.

Overall, figures are down pretty much across the board. Seasonally, the first quarter of a year is usually quiet. However, if we compare the figures to the first quarter of last year, we can see that numbers are down by almost 500 appointed representatives, possibly as a result of a reduction in overall mortgage broker numbers caused by the combination of an ageing demographic profile and ever increasing levels of regulation post-MMR.

Conversely, Which Network has dealt with a not insignificant number of firms wishing to join networks. But this could be down to brokers showing more caution in finding a new home rather than an increase in the number of firms wishing to become an AR.

The largest increase in ARs both in total and as a percentage is The Stonebridge Group. This is probably as a result of ARs switching from Legal & General, which is shutting down its network, combined with a generally steady recruitment drive.

In second place, at least in terms of numbers, is Openwork, which showed a marked turnaround from the first quarter of 2015.

In percentage terms, second place with a 3.74 per cent increase goes to the Sense Network, which is also joint third with Tenet, numerically speaking, with an increase of four AR firms. Finally, in percentage terms, third place goes to the Mortgage Support Network.

Sesame lost the most ARs – falling by 56 firms – although this is once again likely to be as a result of it shedding its investment arm.

The second biggest loss was First Complete, in numerical terms, and Personal Touch Financial Services in percentage terms. This is a very “is your glass half empty or half full” type of quarter.

Of course, there has been a big reduction in ARs, but if these have simply left the industry rather than gone directly authorised then it means there is more work available for those who remain.

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