MBA: Karl Wilkinson, Managing Director, Access FS


It was only five years ago that I started Access FS as an individual brokerage firm. It seems hard to believe that we just hit 100 brokers in the business.

You’ll want to plan where to get your leads; What referral relationships can you put in place to help you?

The biggest challenges I faced when setting up were keeping up to date with product knowledge and finding support.

Status Options

If you go alone, you will soon discover that it is a lonely place and you may feel isolated. Your first option is: will you represent designated (AR) or directly authorized (DA)? Or do something different, like run your own brokerage as a Registered Individual (RI) of another DA company?

Make sure you can advise on a whole range of products, not just mortgages and protection

If you’ve only worked in a bank, you’ll only know one set of products and have to learn a multitude of others. Likewise, if you have been a salaried broker and are now becoming self-employed, or are moving from AR to AD, you will face a plethora of compliance.

Source of funding

Other key things to consider include how you will finance yourself for the first few months. You’ll want to plan where to get your leads; What referral relationships can you put in place to help you? Careful planning is essential, as is maintaining a reserve of funds, not only for your tax bill, but also for any potential downturns.

No matter how good your business plan, almost no business achieves linear growth. It’s usually more like a mountain range

The support is there, however. As an IR, for example, you can become self-employed while receiving training and support, as well as compliance and growth assistance. The key is determining what is important to you and finding organizations to help you.

If you know you want regular training to keep you up to date, partner with someone who can provide it. If it’s help with structuring your finances or recruiting, make sure you know where to access that help. Even having someone to motivate you and make sure you don’t become complacent can be important.

Peaks and troughs

However, no matter how good your business plan, almost no business achieves linear growth. It’s usually more like a mountain range with peaks and dips on your way to the top, so you need to be prepared for the dips and challenges as well as the good times.

The biggest challenges I faced when setting up were keeping up to date with product knowledge and finding support

Make sure you can advise on a whole range of products, not just mortgages and protection. The more comfortable you are with a wide range of advice, the better you will be able to carry on through difficult times.

None of us know what’s on the horizon, whether it’s increased regulation, sudden changes in fundamental government programs, an economic boom or a downturn. Plan for the best and the worst and make sure you have partners to support you in both cases.


This article originally appeared in the July issue of MS.

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