What is a paraplanner and what do they do?

by admin on 28 March 2008

In short 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.

Perhaps a little bit of history would help to explain this further.

Up to approximately 10 years ago paraplanners in the UK did not exist. Advisers had their clients and would tend to complete everything involved in the planning process with the exception of processing any applications though in many instances advisers did this themselves also.

Advisers realised that some of these basic administrative tasks could be undertaken by another person thus allowing them more time to see clients. At this time there were a number of Financial Advisers and Planners who felt that their strengths lay more in the technical/report writing aspect of preparing the financial plans rather than the explaining and discussing the plans with clients.

Also at this time a number of administrators were wondering how their careers would move on. Administrators did not necessarily want to become advisers and yet they wanted to put the knowledge they had gained over the years to more effective use.

This created a role almost sandwiched between that of an adviser and administrator. The role initially appeared to be a ‘Senior Administrator’ but it is this role that has developed over the years into the role of paraplanner.

A paraplanner then is a person who is variously described as:

  • An administrator (we are much more than that)
  • An Adviser’s secretary/PA (we should be equal to the adviser)
  • A highly technical and qualified individual who can offer skills in addition to those of the adviser to provide the client with a positive professional experience.

What does a paraplanner do?

This is a very difficult question to answer as all Financial Planners and Advisers require slightly different things from their paraplanners, however there are some core financial planning skills that all paraplanners perform to a lesser or greater extent and would form the basis of any Paraplanning role. These are:

  • Excellent report writing skills
  • Ability to analyse statistics
  • Ability to conduct research for appropriate providers and investments
  • Good understanding of compliance issues
  • Good time management skills
  • Excellent interpersonal and IT skills

A paraplanner can and will be asked to undertake various other tasks depending on what is actually required by the adviser or the company for whom the paraplanner works so this list should not be seen as either exclusive or exhaustive.In addition paraplanners asked to undertake the tasks listed above will be at different stages of their careers, they will have different abilities both technical and personal and be able to perform these tasks to different standards.

Therefore, in much the same way as the role of the FP has changed to allow them more time to do the things they are good at (spending more time with clients) so, I feel, the role of the paraplanner should now be more clearly defined.

Different levels of paraplanner

A person who is new to the industry, perhaps a graduate, will not be able to offer an adviser the same level of support as a person who has worked in the industry for 15 – 20 years. And yet they could both be described as paraplanners as they ‘assist a Financial Planner’. For this reason and for clarity within the industry, I propose that we introduce 3 levels of paraplanner in addition to the highly important role of an Administrator. The different levels, along with a suggestion for the amount of experience each would have and the level of industry qualifications, are below:

  • Support Paraplanner – 1 – 2 years experience, Certificate in Financial Planning
  • Paraplanner - 3 – 5 years experience, some Diploma level Qualifications
  • Senior Paraplanner – 5 years + experience, Full Diploma / Advanced Diploma / Certified Financial Planner

The specific skills and qualities required by individuals to fulfil these roles will be discussed another time however I believe that defining the paraplanners role in this way will have a number of benefits.Firstly there will be a much more clearly defined career path for those individuals who wish to pursue Paraplanning as a career. They will be able to follow the examination path from certificate level qualifications, through to Diploma level qualifications and then on to advanced level qualifications and their CFP licence. There is a career knowledge structure which would be enhanced by the experience gained through employment.

Secondly employers will be able to define more clearly the type of paraplanner they require (and budget for). Do they require a Senior Paraplanner who will be able to provide all the benefits of experience and knowledge but would be much more expensive or does the employer actually only require a Support Paraplanner who has some basic qualification and is able to change the name and address on a standard template letter.

Thirdly it will help the industry to become more attractive. People new to the industry who do not wish to become advisers and hope to become more than an administrator will be able to see a clearly define career path where their knowledge and experience is rewarded both financially and with professional standing in the industry. They will be able to work towards an internationally recognised qualification in the knowledge that it has taken time and effort to achieve this.

In summary, the paraplanner works as part of a team alongside the adviser and the administrator to provide the client with a professional ongoing Financial Planning experience. Having a team approach ensures that there is always a point of contact for the client, and ensures that by using each individuals strengths the sum of the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts.

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Paraplanner - define! | The Paraplanner
7 August 2008 at 12:30

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

Cheryl Wade 22 April 2008 at 8:36

I’d be interested to know how other Paraplanners around the country would feel about setting up regional seminars/quarterly meetings to enable Paraplanners of all experience and ability to meet and share ideas. Hopefully we coud involve product providers as I, probably like many other Paraplanners, are very influential in the product decision making process with my IFA. It’s great that we now have this web platform to communicate but I don’t think you can beat face to face meetings of similar minds! I am the only Paraplanner in my IFA company, and although I have been doing this role for 8+ years, sometimes it can feel like a pretty lonely job. It would be a fabulous way to support each other, especially the newbies to the industry! I appreciate we are probably a long way off organising something large, but I thought I’d plant the seed with you all and would welcome your comments. Not wanting to bite off more than I could chew at this stage, maybe small groups could organise local evening meetings to share email addresses and just say hello? I am based in Fareham if anyone locally is interested??? Come on, let’s not let the IFAs have all the fun!

Dennis Thomas 25 April 2008 at 11:50

Cheryl
This is something I have also been thinking about for a while now. I am pretty much in the same situation as you with a similar work background and am based in Redhill, Surrey. I would definitely welcome a regional/national forum for paraplanners. Add me to the contact list!

Richard Allum 25 April 2008 at 13:18

Dennis,

We are working on this now. Please send us your details (you can use the contact page) and we will be in touch. Anyone else interested in any other parts of the country can also get in touch.

Mark Lloyd 29 September 2009 at 22:24

I have been a Financial Advisor, customer facing for 20 years and now feel that I have had enough of face to face sales.
How would I break into paraplanning, such as a support planner.
I have FPC 1,2,3 and would be interested in knowing how to switch roles.
I currently live and work in the Birmingham area.

Richard Allum 30 September 2009 at 13:00

Hi Mark,

There are quite a few threads running on this on the forum which you could look at, or start your own.

Rajan 13 March 2010 at 17:42

Hi all
I am very much interested in starting my carrer as a paraplanner for which i need some guidance and support. can some one pls let me know what is the basic requirement to enter this field… i have dome my masters in UK and working with real estates from past 2 years.. i have experience of 5 years in banking and finacial sector in India.. and now planning to start with CFP soon.. is it necessary to have a certificate in financial planning and experience with financial instution for a applying as a paraplanner?? Pls guide me on this i am very keen and waiting to be called as a paraplanner . Thanks

Patrick 8 May 2010 at 12:17

We would certainly be interested in attending monthly regional seminars of this nature. Please keep me in the loop!

Emma 8 July 2010 at 11:13

I’m also interested in regional seminars. Live and work in Poole, Dorset but happy to go further afield – think it could be hugely beneficial to us Paraplanners to join forces, share ideas etc. Please keep me posted. Alternatively, if anyone is interested in local Dorset-based seminars, perhaps we can get together!?! If so, please post back.

Cheryl Wade 20 July 2010 at 8:49

Hi Emma,
I work in Fareham so I am not too far away from you. I’m always interested in meeting up with fellow Paraplanners, so feel free to post a response on this website or send me an email to cheryl@buildyourwealth.co.uk. It would be great to share ideas. Look forward to hearing from you.

Emma 29 July 2010 at 16:02

Hi all.

I’m actually in the process of organising a local Paraplanner forum in the Poole area. If anyone is interested, please feel free to e-mail me at emma@bakerdavies.com.

Cheryl – I’ll e-mail you the details shortly.

Many thanks, Emma.

Piers Langstone Bolt 14 September 2010 at 22:32

Hi Emma/everyone else, (!)

We’re a small HNW IFA in Kensington, bursting with new business but creaking at the back and are looking for remote or local paraplanners to help us on a part/full time basis. This would be the first addition to the practice: what sort of roles could the paraplanner take on and what would be the expected pay? Can one recruit NOT from a recruitment consultant and finally, can a paraplanner manage an IFA business wholly and remotely as a partner?

Would welcome your comments…

Piers

Nji Uchegbu 14 October 2010 at 20:03

Hey all! I am new to the industry I’ve been working at my current role for three months and I love it! Its a boutique planning firm in north london but Ive working in financial services for three and a half years.

I would definatley be interested in meetings/seminars.

Tereza 12 January 2011 at 0:59

how to start career in paraplanning? any tips? i currently work in finance but would like to go for this…

DeeDee 9 February 2011 at 17:39

Am very interested in starting a career in this area. Any tips on how to get started?

Louise Mason 22 June 2011 at 23:07

Hi

I’ve been working for a leading financial advice company for the past 3 and a half years as an administrator/business transfer specialist.

I currently provide adminstration to over 1400 advisers, however I would much prefer to get more involved in the finance side of things rather than admin, and work more closely with fewer advisers.

I’m looking into doing my CF exams, but any help on how to become a paraplanner would greatly help?

Please contact lippylouise16@hotmail.com if you have any suggestions.

Richard Allum 23 June 2011 at 21:35

Hi Louise – have you thought of posting this on the forum, you will probably get more replies.

Paraplanner 23 July 2011 at 17:23

Great article – covered the topic really well. Seems there will be a greater need for paraplanning services with RDR approaching.

Christina Forman 4 August 2011 at 19:16

I am based in South Africa and although we are from different countries and products and legislation around certain products differ, I feel invaluable information can be shared via this forum. I am not aware of any association/forum/platform for discussion in South Africa but if anyone who uses this forum knows anything about such a thing, please let me know.

Dave H 16 September 2011 at 1:40

Hi, I work in Personal Insolvency, but am very keen to move into Financial Planning and study for and take the CF Exams. I have done some research and know the best route to my achieving this is get a position either as admin support to a financial advisor(s) or more ambitiously as a Paraplanner. I wonder if anyone can give me some advice and tips on how I may break into the field especially within Scotland? I currently work as an Insolvency administrator and believe I have many of the skills that I could effectively utilise working in Financial Planning. Any assistance you can provide me with would be greatly appreciated.

Julia 5 January 2012 at 10:58

We are currently seeking experienced paraplanners. Visit our website for further details of our services.

Vanessa 5 January 2012 at 11:16

Hello – I am looking for part-qualified paraplanners to join a premier financial planning company based in central London. Please get in touch for more information.

Ian 10 July 2012 at 15:06

We are a niche nationwide provider of employee benefits with a high quality IFA division. Our corporate clients range from FTSE 100 to smaller regional businesses, into which we feed our small IFA team. RDR compliant – we are looking for ambitious paraplanners who are looking to develop and step up to full consultancy position within 12-18 months. Croydon / London location. If you are interested, please get in touch.

Sandy 17 September 2012 at 23:12

Hi Ian, I have my diploma in financial planning, very keen to use this to enter the paraplanner role, please let me know more about the opportunity you have shared many thanks sandy.

Leah Thorne 27 September 2012 at 22:48

Threesixty are hosting various Paraplanner Masterclasses over the Uk.
Excellent day & an chance to speak with other Paraplanners & gather some hints & tips.

The event is free to those who use Threesixty as compliance.

James 1 November 2012 at 22:52

I am looking at employing a Paraplanner in the Sutton Coldfield area if you would like to email me

James 1 November 2012 at 22:53
Elise 6 November 2012 at 19:00

I am a fully diploma qualified adviser but prefer to work as a paraplanner and am currently working on a self employed basis for a firm that I used to work for. Does anyone else work on a self employed basis and if so what rates do you charge as I cant help feeling that I am too cheap.

Dominic 24 January 2013 at 12:51

Hi,
I hope people are coping well post RDR! I am an IFA , diploma (level 4) qualified, 7 years experience, looking to move into the paraplanning arena. I live and work in Newton Abbot, South Devon. Nearest cities: Exeter (20 miles) and Plymouth (30 miles). Any info, opportunities, advice for a newie greatly appreciated!

Rob Skeens 25 January 2013 at 13:57

I have no experience but I’m currently studying the ifs Level 4 Diploma for Financial Advisers. I would like to become a financial adviser and I was wondering if being a support paraplanner would be a good way to start gaining experience before I cross over to becoming a regular IFA.

Any tips on where to begin my career would be very much appreciated indeed.

Thank you.

Rich 30 January 2013 at 4:52

Excellent, well-structured definition. Great job Richard and defining What is a Paraplanner for everyone.

All the best for 2013!

Guy Swinnerton 20 March 2013 at 9:45

We are a well established Chartered firm of IFAs looking for a paraplanner. Based in St Albans Hertfordshire. Please send enquiries/CVs to Guy Swinnerton.

Vedavalli Ranganathan 21 March 2013 at 3:01

Hi
I am an ex banker with 25 years of experience and also a law graduate. I am interested in Financial Planning and I am preparing to appear for CFP course under Challenge status as I have both CAIIB and LLB qualifications.
I want to work under Certified Financial Planner as Paraplanner so that I will gain more experience. I am in India and I have experience in working with international clients on projects as a freelancer.
Can anyone guide me ?
Thanks
Veda

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