Paraplanning, in its own right, is a relatively new specialism within financial services. Historically, it had formed part of the financial planner’s role. 

With demand outstripping supply and many firms battling over the brightest and best paraplanners in the industry, now is a good time to break into this area.

In this article, we look at what paraplanning involves, what type of people excel in the role and the opportunities a career can offer.

Q. What is paraplanning?

According to one expert source, a paraplanner is:

“a person who works with a Financial Planner or Financial Adviser and completes a number of the non-client facing tasks involved in preparing and administering a Financial Plan or Report for a client.” (1)

The paraplanner provides technical research and analysis of the market, preparing a suitability report which the financial adviser uses in his or her discussion with the client.

The level of analysis and support provided by the paraplanner will depend on the length of their experience and depth of technical knowledge.

Increasingly paraplanners are encouraged to complete professional qualifications.

Q. Why are paraplanners in such demand?

There are many reasons.

Financial products and the legislation which support them are becoming more and more complex. It’s now very difficult for financial planners to keep fully abreast of the ever-changing market while also maintaining strong relationships with clients and pursuing new business.

In step with this, regulatory changes have increased the technical burden on financial advisers. The introduction of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR), designed to increase transparency and fairness within retail financial services, and the recent impact of MiFiD 2, are particularly noteworthy.

Also, there’s been a growing trend of paraplanners becoming self-employed or joining outsourcing providers. This has shrunk the available candidate pool for employers.

Paraplanning has evolved rapidly as a profession over the last decade. Many paraplanners are well-qualified, high expert operators in their field.

Q. What type of person makes a good paraplanner?

The paraplanning role can be quite varied, so any generalisations should come with a pinch of salt.

However, good paraplanners will be meticulous and analytical, enjoy research and process-driven work and can source, analyse and summarise a great deal of information.

Given the nature of the role, you should be the type of person who revels in the detail and is an enthusiastic problem-solver.

Q. What will I get from a career in paraplanning?

Typically, salaries for experienced paraplanners can range from anywhere between £25-£35,000 per annum.

With paraplanners in high demand, job security is another benefit of pursuing this career path. You will be working in a very candidate-driven market. Opportunities will come to you.

Also, many paraplanners are experiencing more work/life flexibility. For some this is carved out through self-employed careers, selling their services to firms across the UK. This brings benefits of flexible working and the chance to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

As an example, one of our candidates works from home, basing herself in a cottage surrounded by the glorious Border’s countryside. Not an unpleasant existence.

For some paraplanning can provide a strong foundation for diversifying into a more client facing financial planner route.

Q. How do I become a paraplanner?

Some paraplanners begin their careers in an administrative or support role within a financial planning firm or function.

As demand is high and experienced paraplanners seeking a move is low, increasingly companies are creating trainee paraplanner roles. This is targeting school leavers and graduates and providing a more formal/structured path.

Although you do not need to have any professional qualifications to call yourself a paraplanner, this has shifted over the past five years with more expectations to complete these.

There are a few routes open to you to improve technical competency and accreditation:

  • CII Diploma
  • Certificate in Paraplanning from the Chartered Institute of Insurers
  • Certificate in Paraplanning from the Institute of Financial Planning

The creation of specialist qualifications demonstrates the industry’s growing recognition of the importance paraplanners play.

Q. Will I achieve job satisfaction?

The search for ‘job satisfaction’ is quite a modern phenomenon, in many ways a consequence of huge increases in living standards over the centuries. Until modern times, work was simply a means of putting food on the table.

That said, in comparison to many other roles within financial services, what can be more satisfying than helping people achieve their goals in life? Owning a home, school fees, a holiday of a lifetime, an early and comfortable retirement, etc.

There are few things more satisfying than that.


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