The Importance of Paraplanners in Financial Advice Today

29th April 2021 Kellie Sharp

The role of a paraplanner, whether it be in-house or outsourced, has evolved considerably over recent years. Generally, there is a fair amount of technical knowledge required to do the job effectively which takes time to nurture.

The nature of paraplanning in most instances is analytical, using technology to simplify processes, allowing a lot of the work nowadays to be carried out remotely, more so since the recent pandemic. The role of today's paraplanner is fundamental to the client process and the high level of service they will hopefully receive. Advisers could not do what they do best without administrators doing what they do best, and sometimes this doesn’t always get the recognition it deserves by the industry.

Whilst there are areas of crossover in the traits and skills needed for a good paraplanner, such as excellent organisation, time management, assertiveness and communication skills, great paraplanners also have patience, initiative, persistence and good client focus. They are frequently the conduit that holds the business processing team together, often organising information and timescales to ensure the client has a seamless experience.

So, what is the paramount benefit of utilising the services of a paraplanner within your financial planning business? I would say it is the undertaking of detailed research and analysis required to meet the increasingly complex needs of a firm's clients, allowing more freedom for the business to thrive as a result. By utilising the expertise of an experienced paraplanner, it frees up the adviser to manage their client relationships and enables him/her to carry out the core function of their job – giving advice...well. Furthermore, it also means that they can maximise their time in direct, client-facing work.

Perhaps not so obvious are the benefits paraplanners can provide as a valuable sounding board for advisers. Proposals can be challenged and technical issues can be clarified with any alternative planning options thrashed out, all of which helps improve the quality and level of service the client experiences.

It seems the role of the paraplanner has, therefore, evolved massively over recent years; it has become much more complex and technical than in the past. Whilst some people may still move on from a paraplanning role to a more client-facing advice role, or move into roles such as management and compliance, there are many people who now see paraplanning as a career in its own right which is great news for the industry in helping to increase its professionalism.

Here are the top six attributes or reasons why firms looking to grow and increase their profitability need a good paraplanner involvement:

  1. Technical knowledge: Paraplanners pride themselves on their product knowledge resulting from writing about tax, pensions, investments and protection products on a daily basis. Characteristically, they enjoy the opportunity to research new solutions, allowing the adviser to concentrate on sourcing new business.
  2. Administration skills: Paraplanners generally are very good with details and usually check and double-check their facts, a skill which is not usually mirrored by advisers. Give a good paraplanner a fact-find and some soft facts and watch it transform into a lucid set of objectives as part of the client report.
  3. Constructing the financial plan: putting a coherent financial plan together can be a lengthy process, so involving the paraplanner in this process enables a plan to be constructed, demonstrating the options for the client delivered by the adviser in the meeting. Some paraplanners nowadays are even present at the client meetings to handle the “what if” questions and explain any detail required from the research or report writing process.
  4. Communication: Some advisers have the misconception that paraplanners do not want to have any client contact but this is not always true. Often paraplanners liaise between the adviser and the client, making sure correct information is collated and they can then illustrate their talent by presenting to the client the complexities within the report writing process with clarity at the meeting.
  5. Challenge: When shortlisting for the "IFP Paraplanner of the Year" award, for example, the judges look for strength of character: assertive enough to challenge an adviser on their thinking around what approach to take with recommendations to clients. The best paraplanners of today are not order takers employed to make life easier for 'product salesmen', but should be good independent thinkers, helping the adviser to mitigate the compliance risk headache surrounding advice whilst continuing to give the best advice possible to the client.
  6. Realism: A financial plan is not set in stone and is usually only as good as the assumptions it is based on. Additionally, it has to make sense and be realistic in its conclusions, which a paraplanner can address as part of the report writing process.

In conclusion, the paraplanner allows the adviser of today the time to concentrate on creating and maintaining client relationships, allowing the client base to grow whilst striving to deliver a high level of service for existing clients. With the support of an adept paraplanning service, advisers are able to deliver the key components of the advice process, with increased confidence and speed, in a more profitable way.

Need Help with Your Paraplanning? Contact us Today

PowerPlanner is the trading style of PowerPlanner Solutions Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales, company number 8743976, limited by shares. Registered office: 18 Glenorchy Crescent, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire NG5 9LG.

© 2021 PowerPlanner Solutions Ltd. All rights reserved.