Build the best team possible

As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment.


We now turn our attention to your people, who are the heartbeat of your business. With many Financial Broker businesses, this starts out with just the business owner, and then expands in line with the growth of the business.

Looking out to 2030, the expectation is that small Financial Broker businesses with one or two advisers will need to have a very good customer service executive who is qualified and willing to advise clients too. This person is a crucial appointment, as it is likely they will interact with every client, and potentially be the sole point of contact for some.

With the need to deliver broader and deeper advice in the future, you as the Principal of the business will only be able to dedicate your time to higher value clients. The expectation is that the 80/20 Rule will continue to apply, with 80% of income coming from 20% of clients. These are the clients who need to get the majority of your time and attention. The customer service executive (or your number two) will need to be able to support you in the delivery of exceptional service to these higher value clients, as well as providing light-touch advice when required to lower value clients. The service to these lower value clients in the future may predominately be through digital channels.

Many Financial Brokers will have greater growth ambitions and wish to scale their businesses. They recognise that with their own time valued at €X per hour as an adviser, there is potential to recruit administrators, compliance and marketing people at a fraction of this cost. This enables the principal to spend their own time only on high value, client-facing activity.  As well as achieving the growth ambitions of the business, people are then working on activities to which they are most suited, which increases efficiency and creates a more enjoyable working environment.

For a Financial Broker at the very outset of their career, or indeed in the run-up to retirement, being a sole practitioner might make sense. However, for a Financial Broker who is planning to be in business for the long term, it is prudent to plan to achieve efficient scale.  It is anecdotally suggested that in the Irish market, efficient scale can be achieved in a Financial Broker’s business with as few as five staff. This typically comprises two advisers and three support people (administration, compliance and marketing).

For firms in the financial planning space and to free up the time of the client-facing advisers, an efficient paraplanning capability will be needed – either delivered in-house or outsourced.

Having appropriate team members that clients can relate to and engage with is important too – this may be a younger adviser to deal with younger clients.


The steps to take

As you consider the future of your business and achieving your strategic objectives, the basic steps to take in relation to building the optimal team are,


  1. Based on your growth ambitions, identify the efficient scale of your business. Then identify the characteristics of the people you need – the future success of your business will be determined by the quality of the people in it.
  2. Recruit people who are qualified or willing to become qualified to carry out their role effectively, both in advice roles and support roles.
  3. Carry out a skills audit regularly, identifying weaknesses or skill gaps in the team. Address these gaps through a continuous training programme.
  4. Motivate and reward the team for the identification and delivery of business improvements, making this a key performance indicator for everyone.


Build successful partnerships with other professionals

As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment.


In this latest area, we consider the role of business partners and potential introducers. Partnerships with accountants, solicitors and tax consultants have been an area of opportunity for Financial Broker businesses for many years. The reality is though that these have typically been ‘one-way’ relationships, with the partners acting solely as a source of referrals for the Financial Broker business.

There is now a move globally towards financial advice businesses coming together with other professionals to provide a full suite of professional services to clients. In some cases, these are having a broad range of professionals (Financial Broker, solicitors, tax consultants etc.) under one roof: in other cases through third party partnerships. This trend is likely to continue. According to a PwC survey of 2,100 small businesses in the UK,[1] 53% of small businesses are seeking connected digital services – effectively a ‘one stop shop’. While this survey was predominately about general insurance and digital behaviours, it flags the desire of businesses for ease of doing business across a range of services and highlights the importance of professional partnerships.

Teams of advisers will specialise in problem-solving, and Financial Brokers will align with other professionals to deliver a complete solution to the complex lives and challenges of clients.

Something that is important here is that Financial Brokers have the required level of confidence in your own capabilities as peers of the other professionals. This is what you are – their peers. As a profession, you are now highly qualified, have expertise in an extremely valuable area for clients and can transform the lives of your clients through your advice and recommendations. You almost certainly add as much if not more value than the other professionals – now you just need to truly believe in the value you are adding.

As you strive to build an effective partnership network, there are a few steps to consider taking. These begin with being able to clearly articulate your value to other professionals and develop a clear ‘pitch’ based on this value proposition. Then you should commit to actively building a network of professional partners through networking, content marketing and social media platforms such as LinkedIn.

Once you start to construct your network, it is beneficial to build in a structured feedback loop with regular meetings, to keep professionals engaged and working collaboratively with you. Finally, it will also be helpful to develop a set of case studies and seek partner and client testimonials that demonstrate the value that you add in your relationships with other professionals.


Putting these steps in place will help you to build a network that will support the future growth of your business.


[1] PwC Global Digital Small Business Insurance survey, 2017