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A meeting of minds can set the plan for great things

2021 has been a year – especially for mortgage advisers – during which I suspect finding time to plan out the next six days, let alone the next six to 12 months, has been incredibly difficult.

It’s been a turbulent period for everyone – lest we forget we started off the year in another lockdown, however (thankfully) the housing and mortgage markets have held up incredibly well and for that I’m sure we are all grateful.

Busy perhaps doesn’t really do the year justice however, with the end of the stamp duty holiday, now potentially comes the opportunity to set aside some incredibly important time to plan out what you want to achieve and how you’re planning to achieve it.

This is undoubtedly important because, it will not take a genius to work out, that 2022 is going to be very different to this year. Firstly, of course, no stamp duty incentives. Secondly, and again hopefully, no pandemic-related measures to impact on the economy such as lockdowns. Thirdly, no-one is quite certain what levels of housing supply we’ll have coming to market. Fourthly, the potential for rate – and therefore product – rises. I could go on.

Overall, the picture does still remain very positive for advisers, and we know from our own network firms that many of them have been looking to bring on more adviser resource during this year (and in the future) which again tells you what their expectations are for growing and sustaining business levels.

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Many firm owners and leaders will take that task upon their own shoulders, and of course they should lead those discussions, however there is plenty to be said for an ongoing dialogue with others, especially if you’re within a network and have access to recruitment and business development professionals from that Principal.

This is one of the areas which we have always prioritised; each region of the country having its own dedicated business development manager from Stonebridge who is tasked with ‘sitting down’ with each member firm and planning out what they want – and need – from us in order to achieve those goals.

It might seem like a natural part of what a network should be offering but it is by no means the case right across the market. Some networks have been cutting staff and resource through the year, not adding to it, and therefore if you have the opportunity to speak with a business development professional then please do so. Or, if not, then look for a network that gives you this opportunity.

Of course, this isn’t about simply picking the brains of one individual. What you’re effectively doing is tapping into best practice, sharing ideas, scoping what is achievable and being provided with hints, tips and support from an individual who has access to many different types of firms, owners, entrepreneurs.

Knowledge is most useful when shared

Our business development team is involved in the induction process to bring on new AR firms, so they see both newly formed companies and joiners to seasoned campaigners. They work with firms as part of our Growth Forum and we also run a Top Performers forum – all the good things that are getting these firms into these parts of the network are then fed into our other AR businesses, allowing them to fully benefit from all the excellent ways of working and developing business that are happening across our group.

It’s essentially a meeting of two minds but scoped out far beyond this, because while one person might think there’s one way of doing things and generating income, what we actually have is tens/hundreds of approaches all slightly different. And by meeting with the business development team, the firm/owner gets to access that knowledge and pool their own for the greater good.

I can’t recommend these sessions enough and I’ve seen firms kick-on significantly when a plan is discussed, put in place, and delivered on. We’re not too far away from the end of the year, and I know many firms are looking at what comes next and how they can run even harder in 2022. This is an excellent way to start and one I would suggest is a non-negotiable – make sure you’re getting the support you need from your network to allow you to do this effectively.

Lesley Sharkey is Recruitment Director at Stonebridge

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