What is a Paraplanner?
– Jenna Mackenzie DipPFS, Paraplanner
I find myself answering this question to pretty much everyone who takes the time to ask me what I do for a living and yet each and every time my answer seems different. Why is my answer always different? Is this solid evidence that, quite frankly, the job role of a Paraplanner evolves continuously?
So, I’m back here asking myself the same question what is a Paraplanner and what do they do? The realisation has just hit me, as I’m listing in my head what Paraplanners do, that in fact, we do a mountain of work to assist Financial Advisers and their clients with the advice journey.
Think of us as the Yorkshire pudding on your Sunday Roast – your dinner just wouldn’t taste the same without it.
As an outsourced paraplanner, I see myself as the virtual back-office system to hundreds of Financial Planners providing services that range from administrative tasks, research analysis, number crunching and suitability reports writing.
Disclosure alert – that list of services is far from exhaustive but you get my gist.
Most paraplanners are academically trained to the same level as a financial planner which allows us to provide invaluable assistance to financial planners ensuring that not only is the advice provided to the client suitable but it is also compliant. Most people are often mistaken in thinking they need a bachelor’s degree to become a Paraplanner, but this can be obtained through joining a professional body for training opportunities and professional development, such as The Chartered Institute (CII), The London Institute of Banking and Finance or The Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment (CISI). I’m sure most paraplanners will agree with me when I say there is so much sweet satisfaction in seeing the postnominals DipPFS at the end of your name. For me, this indicated I know what I’m doing and I’ve earnt my place in the world of finance.
You may wonder what the difference between a Financial Planner and a Paraplanner is. Generally speaking, the only difference comes down to client interaction. Many paraplanners do everything but deliver advice and recommendations to the client. I’m guessing you’re now questioning the need for a paraplanner role when the work we do is almost identical to a financial planner. Let me emphasise that paraplanning is a profession in its own right and although our profession has only been industry recognised for a relatively short time the demand for paraplanners is ever-increasing.
Consider this, what is the one valuable thing that once it’s gone you can never get back? Of course, you guessed it correctly, it’s TIME! I can actually hear my Nana saying the phrase ‘time waits for nobody Jenna, you remember that’ and she’s absolutely right.
Our present becomes the past instantaneously and today soon turns into yesterday.
My point here is – behind the scenes, work that financial planners need to action to best meet the needs and objectives of their clients, is immensely time-consuming. A paraplanner’s work goal is to free up as much of the financial adviser’s time, as possible. Think of us as time savers, it’s kind of our superpower!
Let’s delve into the technical nitty gritty and I’ll explain some daily tasks as well as other duties that, as an experienced paraplanner, I deal with that play a vital part in my career:
Apologies the word administration and administrative tasks just seem a little bland to me so let’s go with…
Research itself is not for the faint-hearted and can be a daunting task, however, it is a fundamental part of helping create a financial plan. Tasks can include analysing market products, investment strategies, business performance, cash flow analysis, and in-depth existing plan research. Research allows both paraplanners and financial planners to determine what and why something may or may not be suitable for the client.
AKA – A term for processing numerical data from which to draw conclusions and provide context to a situation.
Ever been asked what your strongest subject at school was?
Mine was Mathematics I found something really interesting in the structure and process of calculations, often badgering my Aunty to set me maths tests so I could feel like a clever clogs and impress her.
As a paraplanner I get to number crunch on a daily basis to produce detailed reports, whether that be tax calculations, pension contributions using carry forward, calculating fees and ongoing charges, this list can go on and on.
As you can imagine providing the technical knowledge and necessary calculations to financial advisers can free up so much time.
Up there as one of my favourite financial planning tasks of all. In my opinion, this is where you can really get to showcase your expertise.
As a starting point, I like to think of a suitability report as a conversation rather than a document. You get to explain to the client why the recommendation meets their needs and objectives in a personalised and easy-to-understand format. Working for an outsourced paraplanning company isn’t always easy but with the help of a solid factfind, you can often infer how your writing style can be adjusted to suit the client.
Sounds scary doesn’t it? Compliance is however not to be feared, it’s a protective layer used to ensure the consumer (client) of financial plans is sufficiently protected and the market operates competitively.
Paraplanners assist financial advisers in ensuring that the firm and client files abide by the FCAs regulations. Having recently seconded to our compliance department, I realised how invaluable and constructive a paraplanner’s feedback can be to advise firms.
After all, we’re all in this together to help support individuals towards financial freedom, yeah?
Again, the tasks above are absolutely not exhaustive and can vary depending on the firm – but I think I’ve made my point on how we, as Paraplanners, can save financial planners and firms so much time.
So, there you have it, my super quick way of attempting to explain what a paraplanner does.
Fancy a career in financial services?
If this has sparked an interest in you and your next question is now…
How do I become a paraplanner?
You’ve come to the right place! To start your new career path and enhance your skills whilst working with financial advisors within the financial industry, we can help you with all of that and more.
Take a look at our training here.