Network Review: The biggest winners and losers in 2015


Last year was unusually tempestuous for network recruitment, with huge gains and even huger losses

The FCA’s recruitment league table for mortgage networks in 2015 makes for interesting reading. In light of some recent changes, however, I want to run through the limitations of the data before I get to the meat of it.

One anomaly I have discovered with the new-format FCA register is that it now lists introducer appointed representatives. The problem here is that, when networks report their departure, they are shown as “no longer registered as an AR” and the quite major difference between a business-writing AR and an IAR disappears. This is not the end of the world but it does mean that, for a network with significant numbers of IARs, some of those shown as leaving may not actually be as such. However, it will not affect a network’s total or the number of ARs it has recruited so, happily, it does not have too much impact on the important stuff.

The other caveat, of course, is that anyone reading this table and considering changing network or joining one for the first time must be aware it tells only part of the story. A rise in AR numbers may be due to recruitment, acquisition or, occasionally, the internal restructuring of a firm, for example.

Certainly, if a firm is losing ARs steadily, this is rarely a good sign. It could be because it is deliberately running down the network side of the business, as with Legal & General, or it could signal real problems, as seen recently with Sesame. Before leaping in any direction, take professional and impartial advice.

Now, on to the figures and a look first at the overall comparison with 2014. Sesame suffered the biggest net loss, although this is down to its move to concentrate solely on mortgages.

You may notice an almost 20 per cent increase in recruitment for the year, which tallies with the number of enquiries we are receiving from ex-bank or employed advisers wanting to make the move to independence.

In terms of volume, the financial supertanker that is Intrinsic is way ahead again, with acquisitions and a number of large firms signing up indicating it is a popular choice for investment and pension advisers.

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In percentage growth terms, Stonebridge leads the way with a 22.5 per cent increase in its AR numbers. Second place goes to Sense Network with a 17.48 per cent rise and third to Intrinsic, up 15 per cent.

The bottom slot by a huge margin, in both overall numbers and percentage terms, goes to, perhaps unsurprisingly, the unfortunate Sesame.

Openwork comes second from bottom in numerical terms, down by 48 AR firms, while Personal Touch FS takes the same spot in percentage terms, with a reduction in its AR base of 15.15 per cent. The two firms swap places for third from bottom, with Personal Touch FS reducing AR numbers by 45 and Openwork lowering its AR base by 7.86 per cent.

And that concludes 2015’s network recruitment figures from the FCA register. It was an unusually tempestuous year by all accounts, with huge gains and even huger losses. However, things tended to balance out, with a substantial number of those ARs gained by some networks at least partially consisting of the same lost by others.

Gary Watts is director of Which Network