Network Review: One heck of a year

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The numbers show the resilience of financial services and the fact mortgage broking as a career is becoming popular again

Despite the bombshells of both Brexit and Trump, 2016 was an extraordinary year for financial services.

Predictions from a multitude of experts that we would immediately fall off a cliff following the EU referendum proved more than a little pessimistic. That said, most would agree we have some hard times ahead.

So how did networks fare last year? Before I get to the details, we have changed the way the figures for our tables are calculated, due to differences in the way the FCA classifies ARs.

The adoption of the new procedure for calculating our figures neatly side-steps the problem, giving a much more accurate reflection of the situation.

Shared success

Last year saw an increase in overall network recruitment figures and, with a couple of notable exceptions, the good news was pretty much spread across most players.

Intrinsic is once again leading the charge on a numerical basis, with a combination of nifty recruitment and some major acquisitions.

Not far behind in terms of numbers, and significantly ahead in percentile terms, is Stonebridge with 51 new ARs: an increase of 20 per cent. This is at least partially the result of a strong recruitment drive plus its position as Legal & General’s preferred alternative when it closed down its AR network.

In third place numerically is Openwork, helped no doubt by its very low attrition rate.

At this point I must also mention new player The Right Mortgage Network, which has attracted 111 ARs to its proposition. I have not included it in the analysis because it is so brand new and has not had time to lose people yet. But there is no denying it is off to a great start.

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Losing trio

Interestingly, there were only three losers last year.

The worst-performing network in terms of recruitment was Sesame, whose AR total was down by 78 over the year. That said, most of the losses were in Q1 and Q2 and it will be happy to see numbers becoming a little more stable now.

In second-bottom spot is the twin offering of Mortgage Intelligence and Mortgage Next, with a reduction of six ARs, representing 3.16 per cent of its AR base.

And in third place is Tenet, although the loss of two ARs from a network with a membership of 571 is hardly significant.

So that is the network recruitment year in a nutshell. In the face of all the political turmoil last year, the numbers show the resilience of UK financial services and the fact mortgage broking as a career is becoming increasingly popular once again.

Gary Watts is director at Which Network