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.
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