In Focus: Modern financial planner  

Not enough people realise what opportunities lie in paraplanning

Not enough people realise what opportunities lie in paraplanning
Cathi Harrison, owner of The Verve Group

The paraplanning profession is less valued now than it was years ago as individuals fail to recognise the job opportunities in this sector, according to Cathi Harrison, owner of the Verve Group and paraplanning service Para-Sols.

Harrison has noticed a shift in the sector over the last decade with less being done nowadays to highlight the value of the profession. 

“When I first went freelance in 2009, there was a lot happening in paraplanning. It was building a reputation as a career in its own right. It got its own awards and it got its own magazine but it feels like it’s broadly levelled out over the last few years and it doesn’t feel like there is as much momentum behind the sector now,” she said. 

In Harrison’s view, the main reason for this malaise is that not enough people know about job opportunities in the sector, which in turn has led to a shortage of paraplanners. 

The relatively small number of paraplanners means that competition is rife to attract and retain the best ones, but firms are now struggling to keep pace. 

“Everybody’s salary expectations are going crazy at the minute and paraplanners aren’t exempt from that,” Harrison said. 

“They were already in quite a strong position with such a limited supply of workers, but I’ve spoken to a few firms who have said they can’t do anything more as a business in terms of culture or salary to stop paraplanners being poached.

"This is really frustrating as a business owner, but then obviously people will take career opportunities where they can.” 

Harrison, who set up Para-Sols 12 years ago to provide paraplanning support to advice firms, has now grown the business into The Verve Group - a collection of businesses under the banner “we do everything but give advice”. 

One arm of the business, The Art of Finance, focuses on training and creating an entry path for new talent into the paraplanning, advice and compliance sectors. 

During the pandemic the group also expanded into the not-for-profit sector, establishing the Verve Foundation to help tackle some of the problems faced in the financial sector.

Harrison explained how she wanted to find a way to collectively address problems in the sector, with a big one being the lack of new talent. 

It was from this that ‘We Are Change’ was born, an initiative to help get more people into the paraplanning sector. 

Harrison said: “I’ve been in this industry for 17 years and I’ve often heard people say ‘we don’t get enough new people into finance, people don’t know it is a career choice, nobody knows what a paraplanner is’, but it didn’t feel like anyone was doing anything about it. I get frustrated with problems and no solutions."