Finding the right paraplanner for your business

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To be able to attract, develop and retain the right paraplanning staff for your business it’s crucial first to fully understand what paraplanning is as well as the different types of paraplanning roles within the industry.

The Collins English Dictionary defines a paraplanner as “a person who assists a financial planner, especially in compiling reports and conducting research.”

While the core of the paraplanning role is to compile reports and conduct research there are many different types of paraplanner.  Understanding this can assist you with finding the right paraplanner for your business.

Most paraplanners in the industry work in one of the following models:

  • As part of a centralised paraplanning team – this model is often employed by many major banks / dealer groups and super funds
  • Alongside a number of paraplanners in a mid-sized boutique financial planning firm
  • As the sole paraplanner in a boutique financial planning practice
  • In a self employed / contract paraplanner capacity (often an outsourced paraplanning business)

Other duties that are often incorporated with different paraplanning roles include:

  • Administration – paraplanners in smaller businesses often get involved in administration and paperwork aspects from ensuring that compliance documentation is filed correctly to preparing paperwork and implementing recommendations.  A role which incorporates administration elements can give a paraplanner a hands on understanding of the practicalities of the financial planning role and can be especially useful for those starting out in the industry and those wanting to become financial planners.
  • Client Service – meeting with clients – some paraplanning roles incorporate a mix of meeting and liaising with clients as well as paraplanning.  This is common for Associate Financial Advisers who gain experience in formulating and constructing advice through paraplanning and experience in connecting and relating with clients through client service responsibilities.
  • Compliance / Technical aspects – as the role of a paraplanner incorporates compliance and technical aspects, over time paraplanners can become experts in a compliance / technical field.  Many paraplanning professionals become compliance / technical experts within their business or within a dealer group / financial institution where they are called upon by financial advisers, practice managers and product providers to provide insight and expertise.
  • Practice / Paraplanning Management – depending on the size of the business and the seniority of the paraplanner, management of the practice / paraplanning team may also be incorporated into a paraplanning role.  Some practices run a system where Senior Paraplanners are involved heavily in complex advice work and oversee the work of Junior Paraplanners.  Many large centralised paraplanning teams employ Paraplanning / Operations Managers to oversee teams of paraplanners, liaise with other corporate business units and manage workflow.
  • Financial Planner – some financial planners are involved in doing their own paraplanning.  This is often a common starting point for Financial Planners in smaller practices who meet clients, write Statements of Advice and implement the advice themselves.

Although, a quick look at seek.com.au will show you that there are many different types of paraplanner, there are some key skills common to all paraplanning professionals including the ability to:

  • Construct / formulate / understand advice documents (namely Statements of Advice – SoAs and Records of Advice – RoAs)
  • Document and write reports
  • Research and analyse / interpret facts and figures
  • Understand the financial planning compliance framework
  • Manage time effectively
  • Communicate effectively (both in writing and verbally)
  • Use software and employ IT related skills – as a lot of paraplanning professionals are required to use financial planning and other software.

Our articles will focus on how you can identify and attract the right paraplanning staff or outsourced paraplanning solution to fit your business. We will also be taking a closer look into how best to structure remuneration, set KPIs and establish professional development plans for your staff to enhance their development and encourage staff retention and loyalty.

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