The centrality of the network manager

Bluerating | July 2020

Being a network manager is not easy, all the more so after three months in lockdown. A pivotal figure in the financial field, the network manager has yet again proven to be capable of excellent work.  

Let’s start with some figures. The level of satisfaction of financial advisors with network managers has been growing – however slowly and intermittently – over the last 10 years, both overall and compared to the lowest level reached in 2008 with the collapse of Lehman Brothers.  

The general improvement of the skills of financial advisors, the widening range and higher complexity of the services offered by financial networks have resulted in growing expectations towards network managers, making their job quite arduous. 

Lately, network managers have been facing three main challenges: first of all, protecting the health and safety of colleagues; secondly, supporting their network throughout the lockdown by making their presence felt and by helping financial advisors in need; thirdly, motivating financial advisors to make up for lost time.  

What FAs value the most in a network manager is the ability to motivate his/her team (75%); in the second place, business support (66%), which results in the ability of a manager to take the field with financial advisors so as to bring them solutions. 

Moreover, financial networks expect managers to provide significant support in recruiting and selecting the best talent (69%).  

The ability to recruit new members is as important as it is complex. Indeed, the assets managed by financial advisors within networks depend largely on the recruitment of new advisors; today, the organic growth amounts to an average of 70%, meaning that almost one third depends on the acquisition of new advisors from the competition.  

A further challenging task consists in acquiring new talents from banks, and not just from networks of financial advisors. Motivation and the desire for a change in life and career may constitute an effective propellant in the shift from employee to financial advisor. Even then, not everyone can do it.  

The ability to identify new talents, to support and include them in the team, to assist them in the delicate phase of transferring clients from one company to another must be practiced with perseverance and passion.  

30% of new recruitments comes from the banking world. But a good manager should also be a good ambassador of the profession of financial advisor – today, the job is acquiring visibility but, until a few years ago, it was viewed with suspicion and prejudice.  

Motivator, recruiter, manager, ambassador and, most importantly, a transmission belt between management and the network of financial advisors.  

This is possibly the manager’s most delicate task – on the one hand, the manager might be tempted to act as a ringleader, so to speak, at the risk of opposing the corporate governance; or, on the other hand, s/he might act as a simple and cold connector.   

For this reason, the best manager is the one who, in time, develops communication skills out of the ordinary and who is able to warm the hearts of the team, without ever losing sight of business goals and clients.  

As a consequence, the ability to balance heart and brain and to generate understanding and trust not only within the team, but also in the network is essential.  

The figure of the network manager experienced a period of great success in the initial stages of the creation of financial networks (in the 80s and 90s), when a pyramidal structure was appropriate for a young and dynamic field.   

Since 2000, complex hierarchical structures have shown their limitations; in fact, technology has gradually eased the communication between networks and financial advisors, while the increased skills and maturity of financial professionals made them less needy of general support.  

Today network managers are all the more necessary – to strengthen the esprit the corps, to build a team of financial professionals, to manage large networks, thus integrating complementary skills.  

Long life to network managers, then, as long as they prove to be the best.