Financial administrators, client support, client liaison, parassistant, admin assistant, parapartner… whatever the job title, there’s no doubt that administrators are an integral part of any team. Whether it’s a PA supporting an adviser, or an admin assistant supporting a paraplanner, they are often the unsung heroes of our industry.
Within any organisation, every single person should feel valued, but it seems to be a very common feeling amongst administrators that they just aren’t important enough. So, administrators, please hear this – your role is SO important. No business could operate without you. We know how much you do every day, and we are incredibly grateful for it.
To say thank you, here are a few little hints & tips to help make your day-to-day a little easier…
Okay, we all know that some are easier to run than others, but if you’re ever in doubt, just pick up the phone to the provider and ask them to run through it with you. They run their own illustrations all the time and are always happy to help work through them with you.
Whether online or paper, application forms can be difficult to work through. Try completing as much as you can, leaving the parts you’re unsure of. You can then ask an adviser / paraplanner / the provider to help you with the rest. Once you’ve completed an application form a few times, you’ll soon learn how to do them unaided.
Find with-profits confusing? Break into a cold sweat when faced with guaranteed annuity rates? Take a deep breath and open Google (other browsers are available)! The more admin-friendly provider websites like Royal London or Abrdn break complex subjects down into more easily understandable language, so it’s worth bookmarking a few useful pages for ease of reference.
4. Suitability reports
If you can’t make head nor tail of a suitability report, refer back to the paraplanner. Suitability reports should be easy for a client to understand and if you can’t work out what something means, it’s more than likely the client won’t be able to either.
I know you probably have checklists coming out of your ears, but they can be a really useful tool in helping ensure you have everything you need for a data gathering task, or all the documents needed for a compliant client file. These are often built into back-office systems, but they can be as simple as writing out a list of questions you need to ask a provider when calling them for information.
6. Quiet space
It can be really daunting calling providers if you haven’t got much experience. Try and find a quiet space to make your calls until you’re feeling more confident. You’ll be chatting away in the middle of the office before you know it!
I’ll let you into a secret (providers across financial-services-land, please forgive me for what I’m about to say…) the call centre staff often have less of an understanding than you do. Really. They look up the information and give you the answer. So please don’t feel intimidated by them. And if they’re not sure of the answer to your question, don’t be afraid to ask for someone else to help you. If you were asked a question you didn’t know, you would refer to a paraplanner or adviser and it’s similar for them.
…to advisers, to paraplanners, to providers, to each other. We only learn by asking questions and no question is a silly one (trust me, I’ve asked a LOT of questions in my time!) If you’re really stuck on something and you aren’t sure what to do, speak to someone who does know. This will also help you build relationships with the people you work with closely and over time, this will help increase efficiency.
9. Don’t be too hard on yourself
Our industry doesn’t do simple – it’s jam packed full of acronyms, jargon and complex regulation. Understanding all of that takes time and the more experience you have, the clearer it becomes… I promise! So, if you don’t understand something, try not to be hard on yourself; there was a time the adviser or paraplanner didn’t understand it either…
There are a few qualifications out there designed specifically for administrators. The amazing team over at the Art of Finance have a training course designed to cover the basics of financial administration and lots of experience in helping develop people in the role.
And a final note: administration is a career in its own right and not just a stepping-stone to paraplanning or advising. Some of the most knowledgeable and diligent people I have known professionally have been administrators. It’s so empowering to see more and more awards coming up for administrators and I hope to see much more focus on admin as a career in the future.
There was a time when paraplanners felt overlooked in the industry, the same way that administrators do now. These days, paraplanners are recognised as being the extremely detailed, qualified and technical support that advisers need to function. I truly believe the same is on the horizon for administrators for their role in supporting everyone and I am here for it!