While the majority of the UK has embraced the value and contribution made by paraplanners, many pockets of the sector globally have yet to catch up, says Michelle Hoskin, managing director, Standards International.
For our qualification-focused community of planning and advisory firms, the value of standards as a method to raise the game and a framework to be measured is still being overlooked.
Why? Because, for so many, professional standards for paraplanning at an international level may just be a little too far for them right now.
While many firms across the world have these ‘superpowers’ (paraplanners) currently working tirelessly every day in their businesses, they still go unnoticed and are therefore sadly undervalued.
On a global scale the sector continues to be crippled by factors beyond its control.
- The regulators are well and truly awake, the global wave of change continues to make its mark!
- The regulators continue to conduct reviews, audits and sector surveys.
- New policies are being introduced to raise professional standards.
- Qualifications, designations and industry achievements are mistakenly becoming a global obsession.
- Administration is overwhelmingly restrictive, time-consuming and in many cases totally unnecessary.
- Commissions are being cut, and even banned in some countries.
- Consumers are becoming smarter, more demanding and more powerful.
- Employees and people in general are no longer motivated solely by money and significance…
- … and most importantly, your clients, due to their complex and often overwhelming lives, continue to have a deeper reliance on their intimate relationship with their planners and advisers.
With time against us, the profession needs to find the critical changes that could tackle – or, even better, eliminate – some of the global game-changing challenges that we face.
I believe that enhancing our understanding and depth of engagement with a new world of financial planning is the solution that will do exactly this.
So, what is The New World of Financial Planningä?
Think about your typical client’s journey and think about the key stages that they go through during their relationship with you. You will recognise that, in one way or another, most of these stages rely on the financial planner or adviser. This dependency has come about because of a lack of thought-through processes and planned growth in the support teams that surround them.
Perhaps in the past they could just about pull off all the tasks that were considered to be theirs – but not anymore! With the constant onboarding of new clients, the increase in administrative demands and the greater intimacy their clients require… it’s simply too much.
But they still struggle to let go!
The answer is – we fundamentally have to change the way we think and work as a global industry and profession. The New World of Financial Planningä shows a new way of supporting prospects and clients through that journey and to do that we must start by breaking down each stage of the journey… one step at a time.
First of all, the sale!
It’s not a dirty word – and it’s a function that exists in every profession and sector on the planet. The sale needs to become a function of the business, not the function of one person. It’s time to consider ‘sales’ as a team sport!
To help, the business needs a marketing strategy and plan that promotes the brand and generates awareness and interest to ‘pull’ new prospects, clients and partnerships towards you!
Then we have the building and nurturing of relationships. Again, this is a team sport which involves every member of the team – each and every one should engage with the clients, in whatever structure works best!
And remember… a happy team makes happy clients. It doesn’t work the other way round.
Then it’s coaching.
Over recent months – thanks to the passions and work of so many – coaching has been gaining traction and making a positive impact in many people’s lives. Living in today’s world can be challenging and life seems to be getting busier and more complicated every day – which is why a truly independent and objective view of the world (and the clients) is winning both the hearts and minds of those who need it the most.
Next comes strategy.
It’s becoming more and more popular for financial planners to spend extended time, talking with clients about their life dreams, aspirations, future plans, future goals, and things they would love to achieve in their life.
This holistic approach is the job of a financial planner: planners plan and financial advisers advise (I will come to that role next).
The role does not need high technical designations or accolades; it needs skills in mentoring, coaching, and life and lifestyle planning.
Then we have the tactical.
This is where a new shift will happen. The tactical task of moving the pieces around the chessboard of the client’s life is the job of the financial adviser.
This approach is more logistical, less high level, more factual and more about execution. This role has traditionally required the skills held only by a financial adviser – but I believe that is about to change!
Then there’s the technical.
The technical element of their current role continues to put more and more pressure on financial advisers – if,of course, it hasn’t broken them already.
We all know that compliance has increased, as well as a need for knowledge about a broader range of products and solutions.
This is where I believe the paraplanner really comes into their own! Now, if you are reading this and your firm has this sussed, then that’s great. However, with the challenges due to remote and distant working, we have seen many financial planners and advisers taking back elements of the work that should have well and truly stayed delegated!
The role of a true international professional paraplanner creates super leverage and value for the firm that they support.
They are geniuses in their area and, quite frankly, I know that those financial planners and advisers who have remained focused on maintaining the right work patterns and relationships with their paraplanners have no idea how they would manage without you.
I believe that, globally, over time, paraplanners are likely to replace the role of the financial adviser – clearing a path for financial planners to truly take the right place in the lives of their clients while creating a career path for paraplanners to become an unlimited profession in their own right. This is a global professional superpower that will emerge!
Next up, administration.
Administration requires the highest level of organisational skills. Administrators generally have some basic technical knowledge and are reasonably IT literate. They love paperwork, application forms, and typing letters/emails and general correspondence to clients and those they support; they love organising filingsystems, and they love clients!
Then you have relationships again, and that same job of maintaining and nurturing those relationships is a team job. It’s about the business, and about the business’s way of getting stuff done; it’s not about his, her or your way – it’s the business’s way!
Think about this new way of working as a massive business relay race where one person/role starts the job,and then hands over to the next person/role and the next.
It is this collaborative approach to the delivery of financial planning and advice services that will make the difference. Consider these the key players in the game!
A hand-picked, highly skilled, super capable team, a team working together by design to deliver positive outcomes for the business and for the clients, is what is going to change the future of financial services.
So many of your current team are in limbo! If you don’t believe me, ask them to describe their role.
For decades, financial planners and advisers have been justifiably respected and celebrated, but while we’ve been telling the world how great they are, we have also been suggesting that anyone who isn’t a financial planner or adviser simply isn’t worthy.
Our mission is to continue to build a global marketplace of paraplanners, all certified to the international standard for professional paraplanners* and all working to a consistent role profile at the same level of professional excellence. They would support financial planners and financial advisers across the world, enabling them to do the job that they came into this magical profession to do – that is, to change the lives of their clients.
Without a high level of support for and clarity about the roles within their team, this is merely a pipe dream. As much as they want it, they won’t get it by simply hiring more of the same type of people doing the same types of tasks.
Without the right team, a business will never achieve its true potential on its own.
It’s time for the change to happen…