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Paraplanners now need full diplomas

Paraplanners are increasingly expected to have at least diploma-level qualifications, with some advisers requiring them to become chartered or certified, Rory St Johnston has claimed.

The managing director of Surrey-based McLaren Capital said at his firm that paraplanners prepare financial planning reports and help with investment reviews, which means that they need to be qualified.

He said: “It is critical to have someone alongside me with good technical knowledge, and they should be chartered and regulated.”

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Making the comments in the Association of Professional Financial Advisers’ quarterly magazine, Expert Adviser (spring edition), Mr St Johnston added: “Paraplanners need the technical knowledge to answer questions and, within parameters, advise.”

Damian Davies, director of Hereford-based The Timebank, said the shift in what advisers expect from paraplanners has been largely driven by RDR, which has prompted people to “take the job more seriously”.

He said: “Rather than paraplanners just being report writers, they are now often involved in strategic decisions and challenging the firm.”

As a result of increasing levels of responsibility, Kevin Scott, director of Sussex-based Herbert Scott, argued that paraplanners should be paid on an equal footing to advisers.

He added: “We allocate a financial adviser and a paraplanner to each client. For us, the only key difference in the roles is that an adviser is involved in marketing to attract new clients.”

Adviser view

Tony Clements, director of London-based Lothbury Wealth Management, said: “Advisers are responsible for advice and rewarded for it. The paraplanner’s role is to assess them and free up their time to see more clients and become more profitable.

“Paraplanners should produce research and reason-why letters that stand up to the closest scrutiny, and be able to discuss cases with advisers, give opinions and query advice if they have concerns.”