However, the depth of a paraplanner’s skills and knowledge is so much greater than that. Think about it: how influential is the paraplanner in the decision making in your office?
Take, for example, critical decisions on how to make your business run more effectively. The obvious case – that we have all become so familiar with over the last year – is upgrading technology, particularly the sourcing and planning software that is incorporated into a business.
I am sure many of you have had to endure software that is out of date and have also faced the fear factors when it comes to integrating and learning new systems.
This is where a paraplanner’s influence, advice and guidance is critical to the integration and management of new adviser software and systems. Their experience and expertise can add enormous value and, over time, help to reduce costs. That will have a long-term impact on your business.
Taking all of that into account, it is worth reviewing your paraplanner’s learning and development and checking whether the level of professional education they have achieved measures up to the level of responsibility they are taking on.
You might expect a paraplanner to be qualified to the same level as a financial adviser. The truth is, some are, although there is still a lot of work to do to get to a point where we recognise this equality.
That provokes another question: should the paraplanner follow the same qualification path as the financial adviser?
In my opinion, that depends on the career path that an individual paraplanner might want to take.
Some will see the paraplanning role as a first step towards becoming a financial adviser. They may think of paraplanning as ‘getting a foot in the door’ and quite rightly see it as a way of gaining valuable experience in a financial advice firm. For these paraplanners, the best way to progress their careers would be to get a relevant level 4 qualification that gives them a licence to trade in financial advice.
However, a lot of people coming into financial services have no desire to be customer-facing. They may have a passion for investments, pensions and trusts and find the intricacies of our tax system fascinating.
They may even want to be involved with financial planning for clients. But some people are more comfortable studying the detail, carrying out research and writing suitability reports than they are meeting and greeting and explaining products to clients.
For these paraplanners, a dedicated paraplanning qualification is ideal – especially if it is level 4 and therefore equivalent to a financial adviser’s diploma.
At LIBF, our experience of paraplanners is that they are very focused on studying to the highest standards they can achieve. They are extremely dedicated when it comes to keeping their studies up to date through continued professional development (CPD). And when you consider the ever-increasing demands of their role, they have to be.