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The rise and rise of paraplanning


Sue Whitbread looks at how paraplanning contributes to the success of a financial planning firm

Maybe your client work is a little quieter than usual over the holiday season? If so, this could be a great time to review what makes your business tick and how you can make it even better for you and your clients into 2018 and beyond.

One key factor is having an effective team in place – and this includes the use of paraplanners and support staff.  Most advisory firms will recognise that the delivery of an effective, integrated financial planning service means having a great team which has a complementary skill set and works well together. Gone are the old days (thank heavens) when advisers would typically carry out most of the elements in the business process themselves, with the lucky ones having just one or two support staff to help with the admin tasks. It is now fairly well accepted that embracing the paraplanner role has a positive impact on a firm’s ability to innovate, on reducing its overall business risk, on boosting profitability and on enhancing clients’ experience too.

The paraplanner role

Paraplanners are very much involved in the delivery of the financial planning service, whether it’s cash flow modelling or due diligence/ research,  using the specialist skills of a paraplanner, whether in house or outsourced, helps the adviser to streamline the service proposition and focus on building and nurturing the all-important client relationships

Perhaps not so obvious are the benefits which paraplanners provide by establishing a valuable sounding board for advisers and planners. They can challenge proposals, clarify technical issues and discuss alternative planning solutions, all of which really help to improve the quality of service and advice which the client receives. Creating financial plans and client reports, conducting research, analysis and due diligence are time consuming tasks that require a specific skill set.  Knowing that these tasks are being handled efficiently and effectively by team members or outsourced experts who have that skill set, can help to reduce business risk and is great for advisers too. It means that advisers can maximise their time in direct client facing work. This is all positive for client retention and business profitability too.

A career in its own right

Paraplanners have been building an impressive and dynamic community where they share ideas and best practice in the same way as planners and advisers have done for many years. No longer is paraplanning simply  a route to becoming an adviser, rather it is a strong career choice in its own right with more and more paraplanners gaining level 6 qualifications such as Certified Financial Planner or Chartered Financial Planner titles.

However with many firms finding that good paraplanners are in short supply, it’s reasonable to expect that earnings will continue to rise as their impact grows.

This is a dynamic group with great knowledge, great skills and which faces a very bright future indeed. However, great paraplanners want to work in great firms. If your business isn’t in the right shape to attract and keep the right talent, you might find that you’re losing out in more ways than one.