Following the publication of the NACFB’s 2019 Broker Survey results in January, Oblix Capital conducted a short, snap follow-up survey with NACFB members in March 2020. The aim of the survey was to better understand any resourcing issues that the commercial broker population may face in the next ten years.

The survey found that the majority of brokers, two thirds of whom operate on a sole-trader basis, feel the industry will be well-enough resourced to cope with the demand for their services over the next decade. Over half of the population said that they intend to stay in the industry until they retire, with two thirds expecting to remain in the industry for at least the next 15 years. Other factors noted that may influence brokers to leave the industry included ‘to slow down’ (almost a third), and ‘too much regulation’ (a fifth of respondents).

Some concerns were, however, expressed. Almost two thirds felt there wasn’t enough talent coming into the industry, with the calibre of university graduates receiving particular criticism. Whilst over a quarter rank the calibre of university graduates joining the industry as excellent or very good, almost two thirds rank them as mediocre or poor. Some brokers also felt that by concentrating on recruiting people with banking history, opportunities to broaden the depth of knowledge in the industry were being missed.

Andy Reid, Director of Network and Intermediary at Oblix Capital said, “I’m delighted that the majority of existing brokers intend to continue working in the industry for the foreseeable future, but the results here show that work needs to continue to continue to attract the right level of talent and experience into the induustry. The Covid-19 pandemic will cause significant shockwaves in the specialist lending market, but I’m sure that the strong relationships we have with the broker community will help the industry to recover quickly.”

Norman Chambers, Managing Director of the NACFB added, “Looking at both Oblix’s and the NACFB broker survey, I was struck by some of the data. The average age of the Association’s brokers is 48 and over the age of 65, all NACFB members are men. However, the gender split in younger age groups is nearing parity, with 40% of our members in the 18-24 category, being female. Over 45, that proportion is just 9%. There is no good reason for that. It feeds into a wider debate about whether we are doing enough to develop and retain emerging talent within the industry.

Brokers need to look ahead to the next five years and identify any skill gaps. Is the talent of current employees fully recognised? Firms may find they already employ several multi-skilled individuals in-house, without even knowing it. This is especially true of the younger, more digitally-savvy employee.

Reaching out to university graduates and welcoming talent outside of financial services is vital when planning future recruitment. These approaches, together with staff training and mentoring, will ensure a successful and diverse workforce. I’m reminded of the old adage “Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.”