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Paraplanners feel they can add more value

Paraplanners feel they can add more value

Paraplanners believe they are capable of adding more value to their firms than they are currently given the opportunity to.

According to research from Embark and Research in Finance, published yesterday (July 5), 35 per cent of the 332 paraplanners surveyed identified systems/technology expertise as an area where they could add more value.

While 31 per cent said both technical analysis and advice recommendations were areas they could add value. 

Although paraplanners are confident in their ability to add value to their firms, they identified a number of obstacles preventing this. 

Over half (57 per cent) of those surveyed felt their workload was the main barrier, while 27 per cent blamed their company structure. 

The survey also showed that technology could play a key role, with paraplanners generally viewing technology as an enabler rather than a threat.

More than a third (36 per cent) stated investment in technology is one way firms could be more supportive of their role. 

Future outlook

Overall the results showed that paraplanners feel valued by their firms, confident about the future of the advice market, and positive about paraplanning as a career.

For example, 82 per cent were confident about their future in paraplanning. 

A further 85 per cent viewed it as a career in its own right, while only 13 per cent viewed it as a route into a career as an adviser. 

Embark said these positive results may be in part due to a change in the way paraplanners are being perceived by those in the industry.

This was supported by the fact that 88 per cent of paraplanners said they feel their firms better value their role now than they have done in the past. 

Embark’s intermediary distribution director, Ranila Ravi-Burslem said the positive engagement and confidence levels of the paraplanners surveyed may be a function of age.

With the average age of a paraplanner being 39, compared to mid-50s for a financial adviser, Ravi-Burslem suggested paraplanners may be justifiably more confident in certain areas - for example, in dealing with younger demographics. 

The survey also showed that nine out of 10 paraplanners felt able to challenge their adviser's recommendation, something Ravi-Burslem described as “fantastic”. 

“Perhaps this stat more than any other shows how far paraplanning has come. While those conversations might be difficult, they should ultimately strengthen the advice process, especially when getting to an optimal client solution can be an iterative process,” he said. 

However, paraplanners had a less confident outlook on their relationship with clients. 

Only 29 per cent of those surveyed who were client facing felt the role of a paraplanner was appreciated by clients, with the rest either unsure (32 per cent) or felt underappreciated (39 per cent). 

Embark suggested this could be down to how the paraplanner is introduced to the client, or perhaps the client does not always get an accurate sense of how much the paraplanner has contributed to their advice.