'Span of Control' - What Firms Need to Know

The following article is adapted from my previous article on ‘span of control’, originally published in Insight in January 2018. However, having had some recent queries in this area, I felt that it was worth revisiting:

What is a ‘span of control’?

This is a question that every firm should be able to answer but, in my experience, few effectively can.

A span of control refers to the number of people for whom a supervisor is responsible. The span of control should ensure that each supervisor can provide a suitable level of supervision for their team.

It is a firm’s responsibility to allocate sufficient resources to ensure the effective implementation of a supervisor's ‘span of control’, and it will depend on many factors, including:

  • The complexity of the business the team undertakes
  • The ‘maturity’ of the team – non-competent or new staff require more attention than experienced, competent staff
  • Other responsibilities the supervisor may have – acting as an adviser, managing other staff within a branch etc.

The above are just some examples to consider.

Some companies choose to allocate ‘points’, or a weighting to each category of adviser to ensure that the span of control is representative. An analysis of this type could help structure teams with a predetermined mixture of competent advisers; or a reduced number of brand-new advisers and one competent adviser, for example.

The span of control model should be regularly reviewed to ensure that ‘spans’ are suitable to ensure that positive customer outcomes are achieved, and consumer harm is reduced.

It is essential that all firms begin to think about their spans of control. With training and competence remaining high on the FCA’s agenda – even in these unprecedented times – it could be prudent to ask a specialist to review your existing arrangements.

For more information or just a chat, contact me at kirk.ford@rwagroup.co.uk. Alternatively, you can contact the RWA team via the helpdesk on 01604 709509 or helpdesk@rwagroup.co.uk.

About the author

Kirk joined RWA in 2015, having worked in the financial services sector for many years. He started out in both the general insurance and mortgage advice arms of HSBC, before becoming the Compliance Officer at Go Compare and Training & Competence Manager at Optimum Credit. 

At RWA, Kirk is Deputy Head of Compliance. He supports RWA clients by looking after their compliance, training and competence needs and keeping them up to date with regulatory changes. He promotes the achievement of fair customer outcomes and specialises in designing and implementing T&C schemes for firms of all sizes.

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