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‘Value your paraplanner’: Cowling

‘Value your paraplanner’: Cowling

Advisers should not just think of paraplanners as a way of getting out of the jobs they do not like to do, but as a means of growing their service, according to Stephen Cowling.

Mr Cowling, financial planning director of Yorkshire-based Tilney Bestinvest, said that since recruiting a paraplanner, he has been able to improve the service and turnaround times he provides to his clients.

Mr Cowling said: “Using a paraplanner has freed up more of my time to focus on giving advice, and therefore accurately charging for that advice.

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“Some people may not believe this, but having a paraplanner is not about not having to deal with the parts of the job I do not like doing – although I admit I do not miss writing reports – and it is not an expensive luxury.”

Writing in the latest edition of the PFS membership magazine Financial Solutions, Mr Cowling added that having a paraplanner has allowed him to spend much more time on revenue generation, “and that is the real reason and benefit to having a good quality paraplanner”.

Last month, a new standard was developed to support a paraplanning apprenticeship, and it received official approval from the government, with Lighthouse, SimplyBiz, Openwork, Sense, Sesame Bankhall Group and Succession among those signed up.

According to figures from the PFS, an estimated 3,000 of the society’s 36,000 members are paraplanners, and its chief executive Keith Richards has said their importance has grown significantly over the past few years.

Sara Arthur, director of ParaHub, was appointed on the government steering group employer board, and has said there is not necessarily a call for paraplanners to aim for professionalisation like advisers.

Ms Arthur said: “The role allows a paraplanner to act as a ‘critical friend’ to the adviser, but the role of a paraplanner and financial adviser are not interchangeable.”

Paraplanner view

Joanna Hague, a paraplanner and chartered financial planner at Yorkshire-based Investment for Life, said: “Paraplanning used to be a stepping stone towards becoming an adviser, but it has already become a career in its own right.

“The apprenticeship will help to add to that, but it is not the only route and candidates have to be committed to the self-improvement required to be a valuable member of a financial planning firm for the long term.

“Paraplanning has never been about doing jobs that advisers ‘do not like’. The adviser and paraplanner work as a team to achieve better outcomes for their clients.”