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Advisers have same issue of ‘ownership’

Gareth Fatchett in his article in Money Marketing describes the network model as a busted flush. In the main, his article circles around client ownership. Can we put this matter to bed once and for all.

First, nobody owns a client – I say this on the basis that slavery was abolished quite a while ago. However, we all know what we are talking
about here – from a provider perspective, “ownership” is simply a bank sort code within their mainframe – whether the renewal/trail commission payment is £1 or £1000, payment is simply made automatically on the relevant trigger date.

Where I take issue is why client ownership is seen as more of an issue for a network than, say, an adviser working for a national or any firm where basically the adviser is not the owner (that word again). I would, on balance, argue quite the opposite.

Time after time when talking to non-network advisers we invariably get to the same point with the adviser saying: “But they are my clients, I’ve done all the prospecting, I even moved some of my clients across.” Then the reality dawns on them – the “owner” (the boss) states his case and would be supported by providers in terms of any technical argument (the solution is easy as an individual signature will do the trick).

Don’t get me wrong. If the owner provides value by way of general office support and the like, then fine.

My point is that the client ownership point is always seen as a network issue when it is an adviser issue. A lot of advisers joining me presently are not only from other networks or FSA directly authorised, they are from other firms where they have woken up and smelt the coffee.

I would add that purely from an admin point of view, the movement/novation of agencies (and hence clients) is far simpler in a network as the ARs are firms in their own right and their clients sit neatly in their own space.

Compare this with a national, where the clients are effectively owned by an individual and all commission is simply in the mix. The only reason that most networks state that they technically own the client is because the FSA sees it that way in terms of who deals with a complaint if it arises.

Gareth goes on to say: “…without sales they are sunk, without new products and ideas they have nothing to keep their members out selling”. Sorry but the same argument of mine applies – why is this seen as a network issue? Does a national or a sole adviser have some magical alternative solution?

Can we get off the “networks are bad” treadmill and realise that advisers are in pretty much the same position.

IAN McIVER
The Whitechurch Network

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