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What is a Paraplanner?

Despite being a key component of many successful Independent Financial Planning firms up and down the country for many years, many people (including myself two years ago) have never heard of paraplanners, let alone know what they are and what they do! Put simply, paraplanners are support staff that are typically tasked with completing research, writing suitability reports and implementing the adviser’s recommendations. Akin to paralegals at a law firm who support solicitors, paraplanners work closely with financial planners to ensure that they have the time to do what they do best, managing relationships with their clients and constructing robust financial plans to ensure their clients can achieve their financial and life goals.

You may find a paraplanner accompanying your financial planner in face-to-face meetings, or perhaps never meet them at all. This is because the definition of a ‘paraplanner’ and the parameters of their responsibilities varies significantly from firm to firm. While one firm may employ their paraplanner to complete mostly administrative tasks, another may task their paraplanner with responsibilities much more aligned with those of a financial planner. 

In years gone by, paraplanning was often viewed as simply a career steppingstone into an advisory role, as opposed to a career path in its own right. However, due to the increasing complexities involved in providing financial advice, including a heightened focus on compliance with the everchanging regulatory landscape, diversification of financial products and evolving tax planning rules (to name a few) the need for support staff equipped with technical expertise continues to increase. Henceforth, paraplanning is increasingly being carved out as a not only a necessary and fundamental role within a financial advice practice, but a rewarding career path. 

In an increasingly digital world, remote outsourced paraplanners are becoming more common, offering their services to multiple advice firms who can spend more of their time on client engagement and upscaling their businesses. This level of geographical mobility is making the profession even more appealing to those looking for a career in financial services. 

In keeping with the need for an increased level of technical knowledge, paraplanners will often complete similar qualifications as financial advisors, such as the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. This enhances their own understanding to enable them to seamlessly collaborate with their financial planners, interpreting intricate concepts and communicating these effectively to clients in understandable language. The qualification covers a broad array of subject matters concerning personal finance, such as Personal Taxation, Pensions and Retirement Planning and Financial Protection to name a few. 

Paraplanners are vital components of the advisory process and are key contributors in facilitating clients achieving their goals. Armed with technical expertise, research skills, and compliance knowledge, they amplify financial planner’s capabilities, ensuring clients receive tailored strategies and sound financial guidance for a secure future.

Brenton Vickery, 

Paraplanner at Greenfields Financial Management. 

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