When looking to get financial advice, clients are very aware of the role of an adviser, in that they provide specialist advice on how individuals can manage their money.
Advisers use their knowledge and expertise to come up with personalised financial plans that aim to achieve the financial goals of their clients, they then check in with clients on a regular basis to ensure these plans are working how they should.
But many people are not aware of the role of a paraplanner and just how important they are in the advice process – something that needs to change.
Paraplanning is still seen as a relatively new role within the financial services industry.
It used to be seen as a stepping stone into a client-facing advice role, however this view has changed in recent years.
It is increasingly being viewed as a career in its own right, and becoming more popular – especially among women.
For example, in a survey carried out by Embark, out of 332 paraplanners, 85 per cent saw paraplanning as a career in its own right with three quarters saying their firms see them as an essential support for advisers.
However, many feel they are capable of adding more value to their firms than they are currently given the opportunity to.
So why is it that paraplanning is often not taken as seriously?
Firstly, it could be down to how paraplanning is introduced to clients; for example, they are often not aware of how much work the paraplanner has contributed to their advice, often working behind the scenes.
Secondly, firms may use paraplanning as a recruitment process for trainee advisers, which often undermines the importance of the role.
By treating paraplanning like a long-term career could help more people see it as such. Paraplanners could be given structured career paths with professional development opportunities, which could lead them to stay in the role for years.
This is also good for advice firms as they will not have to constantly recruit new paraplanners and train them up – saving them time and money.
Times are changing
But people are starting to change their views around paraplanning and seeing it as a vital part of the advice process.
Whereas paraplanners have historically been seen more as administrators, advisers are now starting to recognise the technical skills individuals hold and how advisers can make use of these.
By having more highly skilled paraplanners, advisers have more time to pursue new clients or touch base with existing clients more often.
We have seen the industry get behind paraplanners in recent years and introduce services to boost their skills and resources. For example, Embark has recently introduced a hub, known as The Paraplanner Room, which contains a number of resources to help paraplanners excel in their roles.
The hub includes help with understanding the upcoming consumer duty, has a ‘tool box’ of features such as a fees calculator, and provides a monthly digest on market news.