A guide to becoming a paraplanner

25 October 2021

A paraplanner carrying out administrative tasks on behalf of a financial planner.

A career in paraplanning offers the opportunity to learn key skills, such as report writing, financial initiative and analytical ability. It also gives individuals the chance to develop their knowledge and experience of the finance industry and can be a great first rung on the financial career ladder.

If you want to find out whether a job as a paraplanner may be right for you, read on. We explain what a paraplanner is, before looking at why someone may consider a career in paraplanning. We also offer help and support on how to start a career in this role.

What is a paraplanner role?

A paraplanner is responsible for carrying out the administrative tasks that a financial professional doesn’t have the time to do. This may include advanced tasks such as compiling extensive reports, conducting research and sourcing important documents or simple duties like handling invoices.

Although the financial professional may be able to do these tasks themselves, they may be time consuming, making it difficult for them to find time while focusing on the client’s other needs. Instead, a member of the financial planning team will carry out these tasks in what’s known as paraplanning.

It will also include a range of duties to fulfil the needs of the financial professional and their client such as grasping an understanding of risk profiles and client objectives, analysing cash flow, identifying opportunities for effective recommendations such as investment strategies and asset allocation, preparing suitability letters, filling out extensive forms, leading review meetings and ensuring compliance is adhered to and all corresponding paperwork is completed.

What type of person makes a good paraplanner?

As we discuss in more detail below, in today’s world the role of paraplanning is a diverse and varied one. This means it would not be wise to pigeonhole a certain type of person who may suit this profession. 

However, as a rule, good paraplanners will be focused, analytical and deeply meticulous. They should also be the type of person who enjoys research and can cope with a job that revolves around process-driven, regulated work. 

Although it is a cliche, the most suited people for a career in paraplanning will also be enthusiastic problem-solvers who are happy to work both individually and as part of a wider team. Ideally, they will also revel in detail, being able to quickly and effectively analyse and summarise a great deal of information in a short period of time.

If you are interested in a career in paraplanning, it is important to remember that before you begin your training you will not tick all of these boxes. However, if you believe you possess the raw skills and personality traits best suited for this career, paraplanning should be a profession you seriously consider. 

Why do you want to be a paraplanner?

Whether you hold lifelong aspirations of moving into a higher position in the financial services industry or are considering a career change into finance but don’t know quite where to start, working as a paraplanner can offer multiple core benefits.

As previously stated, paraplanning is typically based around a specific member of the finance team and involves carrying out administrative or simply time consuming tasks that the financial planner is unable to do. Working in this role carries many benefits including giving entry-level professionals in the financial services industry the ability to learn fundamental skills first-hand.

For instance, operating as a paraplanner means gaining knowledge and experience of analytical and technical processes, such as preparing and reviewing client files and recommending impactful changes. It also allows them to keep up to date with the latest information on compliance within the finance industry and gives them the ability to shadow an experienced colleague.

Although some people work as paraplanners in order to progress into other roles, paraplanning isn’t solely designed as a stepping stone. Many people specialise in paraplanning, with the role developing in recent times to offer a more client-facing approach and the ability to grow skills without necessarily having to change roles. Not only that, but there’s a demand for paraplanners, and operating as a reliable, effective and skilled paraplanner is a valuable asset to clients and potential employers.

The hidden advantages of being a paraplanner

Regardless of whether you see yourself as a career paraplanner or if you view this role as a stepping stone for another career path later down the line, there are many reasons more and more people each year are opting for a job in this often understated industry. Here are just a few hidden advantages of becoming a paraplanner.

  • Earning potential

While you might assume there is big money to be made in financial advising, the truth is that in the current environment firms are not adverse to paying very competitive salaries for high-quality paraplanners too. In fact, according to The Financial Planner Life Podcast, the wage gap between paraplanners and financial advisors is starting to narrow with experienced paraplanners now earning as much as £70,000 per year. Indeed, with the role becoming ever more technical, time-consuming and client-facing, this is a high watermark that is also set to increase. 

  • Industry revolution

The financial industry has been slowly aging from years with the average age of a financial adviser today being 51. On the back of this, it is expected that a significant 38 per cent of advisors are expected to retire within the next decade. This expected industry turnover means there are plenty of opportunities to be taken advantage of in this rapidly modernising industry. Pair this with the fact that training to become a paraplanner opens up clear and quick career progression opportunities (you can develop from a trainee paraplanner with a Certificate in Financial Planning to a senior paraplanners with full diplomas in between five and 10 years), there’s a well-trodden route of progression in this sector. 

  • Plenty of variety

So much more than the glorified administration role it once was viewed as, paraplanner jobs today are highly technical with day-to-day tasks that offer a broad range of variety. From conducting primary research into the financial state of businesses and industries of interest and keeping up-to-date with the latest sector regulatory changes to conducting due diligence and analysing bonds and share markets, every day is different in this role. Paraplanners will also typically be asked to regularly work as part of a team, as well as individually without supervision. With such a diverse range of daily tasks, there is no wonder the demand for trained paraplanners is increasing all the time. 

How to qualify to be a paraplanner

As with many roles in the financial services industry, prospective professionals aren’t required to complete a university degree and, in some cases, financial businesses may offer roles to entry-level paraplanners without any form of qualification. However, even in this scenario, they will be required to earn a qualification alongside gaining experience.

An effective way of qualifying as a professional paraplanner is through completing a course in finance. Simply Academy offers apprenticeships in financial advice that allow students to gain an industry recognised qualification while picking up first-hand experience.

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