Jobs and Careers In Business Broking

Looking For A Position In A Business Broker Firm

Business Transfers Agents are often called business brokers. You likely already know what they do and that the typical firm employs various staff, from receptionists to marketers to others. 

But the job you want is to sell businesses. The good news is that this skill is in short supply. The bad news is that very few business brokers are looking to hire people who can sell businesses.

If you scroll through ads on jobs sites such as Indeed, Monster, TotalJobs, Reed etc., you'll soon realise two things:

1. The use of the term "broker" in the insurance market, mortgage market and elsewhere causes no end of difficulty with filtering for jobs in just business brokerage firms. To make matters worse, many of these industries refer to specific positions as "business broker" positions. For example, a company advertising a "Business Broker For Insurance Company" job is looking for an insurance broker who can bring in new business rather than a business broker to sell an existing business.

2. Business brokers who are looking to hire are looking primarily for staff to man telephones, make cold calls and sell their services/get new clients in. They aren't looking for experts at selling businesses! Most business brokers in the UK do very little to sell businesses. They take clients on, put together a bland prospectus / memorandum, post it on BusinessesForSale.com or similar portal ... and sit back and hope that the business sells. No skill, knowledge or expertise required here. The bulk of the effort in these firms is in the marketing - the attracting of new clients.

How much do they earn?

There is no easy answer. If you're working for a firm of brokers you may start on as little as £10K or as much as £25K depending on the firm and the job you're doing. If you're bringing clients in the firm will likely start you on a very small salary and tie your earnings to the volume of business you generate. Even if you're at the selling businesses end of the brokerage, it's very heavily commission oriented.

Here's some information on how much brokers charge clients. So, yes, they charge clients a lot,  but that's no guide as to how much they pay employees.

So how do you get a job as a business broker?

The first thing to note is that to sell businesses you need to have the requisite skills - a strong business background, an ability to read balance sheets, skill with putting together information memoranda on client businesses and the ability to pitch your clients to prospective investors, among others. Strong negotiating skills, ability to structure deals and the ability to generate trust are also important. A candidate who has all the qualities needed also tends to have extensive contacts in the business broking / M&A world. S/he will know many of the players and regularly attends events where the networking happens.

Which brings us to the bottom line. Most of these jobs are filled through contacts rather than through job ads. If you haven't already built a network in the industry you need to start now.

Training To Become A Business Broker

There are no qualifications required to become a business broker in the UK and, contrary to some information on the internet, you don't need to be part of any "professional association". In fact, many UK business brokers know very little about business or selling businesses. As described above, they do little more than post details of their clients' businesses on an online listing / portal site and sit back.

To do what some UK brokers do no skills are needed except for the ability to get clients to sign up with you. One way to get clients is to offer a no-win-no-fee charging plan. Small businesses are suckers for the "no risk" proposition and many will gladly sign up. Have enough of those clients on your books and you'll sell the occasional business to land yourself 10% of the sale price. I regularly advise business owners to avoid these brokers like the plague, but the fact remains that over 90% of businesses that get listed for sale in the UK get listed with brokers like these. The demand certainly exists.

An alternate route into the market is to start at the bottom in a business broker firm and learn the ropes. Most good business brokers around today learnt their skills "on the job".

A good way to find out more about becoming a business broker, learning what brokers do etc., is by visiting the BusinessBrokeragePress site which has a useful page here. And BizBen has a useful article on the qualities you need to have to be a good business broker.

Note: Some information you find online about becoming a business broker relates to the US of A where business brokers in some states need to have a real estate licence.

Starting A Business Broker Firm

Entrepreneur.com has a decent overview of what's involved.  And Divestopedia has good coverage on what services you need to provide if you want to build a reputation as a trustworthy and competent professional. There are also various business broker franchises such as The Business Partnership if you prefer to go down the franchise route. A franchise could set you back by £20,000, £50,000 or more.

Update, Sept 2106

Found a useful article here: How To Become A Business Broker