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Don’t tar all networks with the same brush

I read with concern an article by Alistair Cunningham in a recent issue on Money Marketing (23/01) in which he implied that all networks were struggling and would become restricted in the future.

Generalisations can mask the truth and, in this case, I feel very strongly that your readers should know that not all networks are the same.

Sense is one of a very small number of emerging modern networks successfully operating an AR structure.  We are profitable, technology-led and cater solely to the needs of high-quality financial planning businesses. Unlike the big, old fashioned networks, we are committed to supporting independent financial advice, have a strong and stable management and our adviser numbers have consistently grown over the last few years.

We understand that the old networks have significant legacy issues to deal with. As well as the issues that Alastair identified, the FCA Inducements paper has shed light on the shady deals that have driven some networks’ conversion to restricted advice and now pose a challenge to their financial viability.

Our profession is a broad church.  There is a wide range of business models, but the successful ones do have a number of common traits: They have the right core values, they are on solid and sustainable financial foundations and they put the customer first. They endeavour to be really good at what they do. Each has its space in the market, and each adds to the health of the industry.

It would be a sad day if all advisory businesses were the same. There are some great directly authorised firms and equally there are great businesses who choose to be part of a network. Whilst  the familiar names in the network market have serious challenges to face, there are modern networks emerging who have adapted to the new environment and are thriving.

We need to start to bring some much-needed balance to this hitherto one-sided debate.

Tim Newman

managing director of Sense Network

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