Brokerage is a people business, and industry consolidation is having an impact on individual brokers. “I have never changed jobs, but through mergers have worked for three different companies,” writes one survey respondent. “The scale of the platform and resources are incredible. In the old days, if a client asked if we could do something, we said yes, and then figured it out. Today, I say yes, and then find out who at my company does it, and there is always someone who does.”
Nearly one-quarter of respondents (26 percent) have worked for one brokerage firm for their entire career. However, most have worked for more than one firm, with 30 percent that have worked for three firms, 24 percent two firms, 14 percent four firms and 5 percent working for four or more firms.
When brokers were asked what type of firm they would prefer to work at, full-service firms edged out boutique or independent firms by a slim margin. Based on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being not at all preferable and 5 being extremely preferable, boutique firms posted an average score of 3.6 compared to a 3.7 for full-service firms. Working for a member firm of a brokerage network rated third at 3.0, with working for a franchise firm trailing at 2.5 percent.
One downside to consolidation is heightening what is already a highly competitive environment for brokers. “We have created this mercenary class of people where we are commoditizing talent as some brokers play a game of broker hopscotch,” says Steir. Everyone seems to have a notion of their value in the marketplace as an individual or team. “I like to think this is not the case at Savills Studley,” he adds. “But one of the negatives is that some of the large firms, when you scale to that level, lose the collegiality and loyalty that exists.”