Guide to Choosing New Broking Jobs

As specialist recruiters for the shipping and energy sectors, a big part of what we do at Cordell Beaumont involves working with an international network of brokers to help them find and evaluate new career opportunities.

Talented brokers are highly sought-after – as well-connected, business-savvy experts linking demand with resources across a range of commercial sectors, they are key revenue drivers for employers and can be handsomely rewarded for the results they deliver.

But when it comes to choosing new jobs in broking, there’s a lot more to consider than just the pay package on offer.

In fact, even compensation plans themselves often need detailed ‘unpacking’ before their real value can be accurately determined.

As a guide for brokers across all markets weighing up their career options, we thought we’d share a few of the main points we evaluate when working with candidates to explore new professional opportunities. 

Comparing Apples with Apples

When it comes to sizing up new jobs in broking, candidates are usually comparing:

-        New job offer vs current job, or

-        Job offer A vs Job offer B (or C)

In doing this, it’s essential to make sure that comparisons are genuine ‘apples to apples’ evaluations – that each opportunity has been properly contextualised before it’s compared to another.

When it comes to something as important as a career move that could last 2, 5 or even 10+ years, taking time to fully map out the pros and cons of each option can pay huge rewards – both in highlighting overlooked benefits of some options as well as revealing potential downsides in others.

A Three Point Approach

To ensure that opportunities are being accurately compared to each other, we usually focus on three main areas:

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In each of these areas, there are some key questions to ask which help flesh out how highly the opportunity scores for that category.

Once this process is complete for all three, it’s much easier to line up options and see them in a clear light, balancing the plus and minus points of each job offer to make a confident, informed decision.

 

Remuneration

It’s easy to be dazzled by generous-looking commission schemes or impressive salaries, but it’s also important to understand that remuneration plans should never be judged in isolation.

That’s why the circles in our Venn diagram overlap – because things like commission are only as valuable as the commercial opportunity they relate to (e.g. how well positioned are you to create large volumes of revenue in order to earn the promised commission).

In looking at remuneration plans, things to weigh up include:

-        Salary

What’s the guaranteed portion of the pay packet?

Is a potentially high salary offset by lower performance pay?

How often are salaries reviewed – is there a structure in place for raises and upgrades?

-        Commission

How do commission percentages compare?

Are there commission ‘accelerators’ for performance above a certain threshold?

Do commission levels differ for new vs repeat clients?

Is commission capped or limited?

How does commission break out if deals are shared among team members in collaborative deals?

If a leadership role, how does commission relate to team performance?

-        Bonus

Does the role offer any form of bonus (instead of or in addition to commission)?

What are the requirements to achieve this bonus?

Is it performance-based, or discretionary?

-        Stock options

Will you be offered any stock in the company you’re joining?

Are these grants or options?

What is the real-world value of any stock offered – when was the company last valued (if private), or how is stock price trending (if listed)?

How would you realise the value of stock you may hold?

 

Commercial Opportunity

Hand in hand with remuneration goes commercial opportunity. This determines the scenario in which the remuneration plan is deployed – the ‘potential’ on offer to make money under the scheme.

In vetting commercial opportunity, make sure to consider:

-        Performance precedent

What results have people in similar roles in the company delivered?

(It’s important to not just evaluate your remuneration plan in terms of what you’ve achieved in other companies, but to get a feel for what’s being achieved in the business you are considering joining – what have other brokers delivered? What are the high-water marks for performance, biggest deals, biggest pay-outs?).

-        Target market

Are you confined to sell within a certain geographic region or within a particular commercial sector?

What internal competition do you face? (i.e. how many brokers operate in the same space?)

What high-potential accounts or clients are still available for you to win, which are already off the table?

Do you have a ‘blue sky’ opportunity, selling into a new region or sector?

-        Product / Service positioning

How easy is it to sell the product or service you represent?

Is market position strong?

Track record and reputation positive?

Pricing competitive?

Resources or capabilities market-leading?

-        Support

How well supported will you be in uncovering and closing sales opportunities?

How strong is the marketing team that will support you?

What budget is available for travel and client entertainment?

What conferences, networking events and other face-to-face opportunities will you have?

 

Professional Development

Lastly, it’s critical to ensure you weigh professional development in the balance along with the potential to earn great income.

If you’re ultimate goal is, for example, to progress into a leadership or management role, then it’s essential to vet the chances of this materialising with each job on offer – you may eventually decide that a fast-track route to a ‘head of desk’ role wins out over roles offering more aggressive pay packages.

In sizing up professional development factors, think about:

-        Promotion paths

What is the route to the next rung of the career ladder?

What does that next rung look like – what perks or benefits does it bring?

Are the clear criteria to achieve promotion, or is it at management discretion?

How quickly could you move up?

What is the performance review frame-work in place – are you guaranteed an annual sit-down with your manager to discuss career advancement?

How will the size, structure and growth of the company (or division) impact your trajectory? (i.e. is there a more established ladder to climb in a large firm, but potentially a quicker route to senior leadership with a small but fast-growing business?)

-        Skill-building

What new skills and abilities will you develop in the new role?

Is there any training or professional development on offer?

Will you have a budget or support to pursue any new licenses or accreditations?

-        Mentorship

What will you learn from working under your boss, or from the teams leading the business?

Is any potential slowdown in earnings offset by the chance to work in an environment which will equip you with valuable long-term knowledge?

-        Market exposure

Will you gain new skills or commercial know-how from the market sector you’ll work in?

Is it a growth area, a field to invest your future in?

Will you be selling into a higher or lower level of client hierarchy?

Will your job help you build a network of contacts that can help accelerate your performance and career?

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Putting all these factors together helps create a rounded, informed picture of the career options ahead, comparing opportunities equally and adding important context to put different job offers side by side.

This in turn allows brokers to feel confident that they are making the right moves based on their earnings and professional aspirations.

 

For a discussion about broking career opportunities across shipping, commodities and energy, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or get in touch for a chat at callum@cordellbeaumont.com