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Cathi Harrison: This is a problem the industry needs to fix

14 April 2019

The industry’s paraplanner pool is not growing fast enough to meet demand and by focussing only on experienced individuals adviser firms are not helping resolve the problem, says Cathi Harrison, MD, The Verve Group

I was recently on a conference practitioner panel at where one of the things we discussed was the need for more paraplanners. I talked about the need for more people in financial services generally; it’s not just paraplanning, or just advising, but a general lack of new, fresh talent coming into financial services, and bringing different ideas and perspectives.

However, after the panel, a guy came up to me to say that he has been trying to get into financial services for a long time (hence being at the event) and was constantly rejected from every job he applied for, as he didn’t have experience. It is obviously a vicious circle for him as there is then no way to get any experience. He was from a military background, very technical and analytical and thinks paraplanning is the career for him. But has no actual way in.

And it’s a really important point, and really brought me up short. There’s no point in harping on about needing more people (and everyone in finance says the same) but then not providing opportunities for those people! We have The Grad Scheme, but that targets people fresh out of uni. And while young people coming into the profession is a good thing, it’s not the only thing. People looking for a second career can bring different skills and knowledge, and how do they get in?

You may have seen we recently launched The Art of Finance, including a training programme for advising firms to put their paraplanners through ( https://theartoffinance.co.uk/course/the-art-of-paraplanning). And that’s one way of helping to develop the paraplanning talent in the industry, but it doesn’t address the issue above, how to give more people opportunities and the chance to get experience.

I understand firms looking for experience rather than training from scratch; the latter taking time and effort, and generally, when hiring, firms want people to be able to hit the ground running.

But that just means the existing people keep moving around and new people can’t get a toe in the door.
It’s something I’ll be thinking about and working on more with The Art of Finance, but it’s not something one firm alone can fix. It needs to be an industry wide effort and the opportunities need creating if we want to keep developing and thriving.