Paraplanners are the legends of financial advice practices who are working diligently behind the scenes to provide all the technical and administrative support for the advisers in the stringent regulatory environment. In the past it was normally the advisor who worked with the client at every stage of the financial advisory process, leaning on the administrative support of the paraplanner when required. But there have been many evolutions in the paraplanning process in the recent past with the scope of the role expanding far beyond back-office tasks.
Skills & Expertise
- The skills demanded the paraplanning role has advanced rapidly from a mere administrative role. There has to be sound technical knowledge at the forefront with the ability to enforce solid financial recommendations. Some paraplanners work with more than one advisor, so paraplanners are managing different workloads and different expectations. Because of that, it has become essential for a paraplanner to be well-organized.
- In the past, advisers used to request paraplanners to produce suitability reports based on their recommendations. But today paraplanners are capable of providing recommendations. According to previous research, paraplanners are increasingly influencing the selection of pensions, investment platforms, and other services. 87% of paraplanners influence the selection process compared to 64%-75% in earlier days. Once the advisors return from client meetings with a plan on what they need to achieve for clients, paraplanners are being helpful to understand the plan and bring it all together.
- Many financial advice firms have started to consider paraplanners as the engine room of their business. Paraplanning’s role today consists of research, due diligence, report writing, and making decisions on the recommendations made to clients. Because of this enhanced scope of paraplanning, advisers have been able to free up their time to build client relationships and bring in more business. For example, after a budget announcement, it will be the paraplanner who will be digging into the details, giving all the information to the advisor while the advisor manages the financial requirements of the client. Paraplanners have the ability to answer technical questions and perform complex calculations. Paraplanners are involved with research in investment planning, retirement planning, inheritance tax calculations, and estate planning as well.
- Paraplanners have even gone to the level where they challenge the advisers on particular recommendations. It demonstrates their high level of understanding and ensures that the advisors’ recommendations are correct for the clients. Paraplanning’s role today provides an extra pair of eyes and an additional layer of protection to the final recommendations given.
- Compared to previous days, paraplanners have gone to the level where they directly contact clients. They support the advisors in understanding the client’s objectives whilst ensuring that all communication needs are met with the industry regulatory and complaisance guidelines. Once the advisor-client relationship is built, it creates more confidence in the client when he meets the individual who provides technical support behind the scenes.
- The advancement in technology within the financial advisory process has created several new responsibilities for the paraplanning process. Today, a paraplanner is considered an expert at preparing a range of documents with forecasts and projections by using various financial analytical software. Compared to earlier days there are much financial analytical software, concepts like ‘Big Data’ that help the paraplanners to continue with their data analysis.
Paraplanning as an Outsourcing Option
- Today the paraplanning role has become more contemporary as the advisory firms can pick a paraplanner to match their specific needs. The Paraplanning role has been outsourced by many advisory firms and it is no longer required to have in-house paraplanners. Having in-house paraplanners can be more costly with the salaries, pensions, and other employee benefits. Outsourcing paraplanners will provide access to a greater range of experience as well, especially if the outsourcer employs paraplanners with a variety of qualifications and experience.
- Slowly financial advisory businesses are encouraging the idea of advisers working with a paraplanner rather than a paraplanner simply working for an advisor. It is becoming a notable shift encouraging more collaboration in the way of working.
- The role of a paraplanner has become a more respected career path compared to earlier days and a lot of graduates consider paraplanning as an aspiring career path to enter into the financial planning profession.
- Paraplanners have started to work in teams rather than individually. Although paraplanners work individually with advisors it is best when paraplanners work in teams. If someone has not come across any information before, then it is inevitable that another paraplanner in the team knows about it and there can be paraplanners in the team who can help to find more information regarding the matter. Working as teams in paraplanning is becoming popular and adding benefits to the paraplanning role.
The Paraplanning role has evolved with much greater scope and opportunity for paraplanners to grow in the profession. It is becoming increasingly technical with the rise of industry standards and compliance rules. There have been advisors all over the world who have stepped back from advising and moved on to careers in paraplanning. Clients have been favorably affected as the paraplanning evolution comes with added skills, expertise, technological knowledge, and providing valuable recommendations to the client requirements. The future has never been brighter for paraplanners who want to progress.