The unsung heroes of financial planning

16 November 2023

Paraplanners are the unsung heroes of financial planning. The question for firms in an ever evolving landscape is whether to employ in-house paraplanners or outsourced paraplanners. Michelle Hoskin, managing director Standards International, looks at the pros and cons and where AI fits into the picture.

Ah, the world of financial planning! A landscape that’s ever-changing, ever-challenging, and ever-rewarding. But let’s not forget the unsung heroes who make it all possible: paraplanners. These are the individuals who dot the i’s and cross the t’s, ensuring that financial plans are not just good, but exceptional. So, the question arises: should you have these invaluable assets in-house or should you outsource? Let’s dive in.

The evolving landscape of financial planning

  • Increasing Complexity: With the advent of new financial products and regulations, the role of a financial planner has become more complex than ever.
  • Need for Specialisation: This complexity necessitates specialised roles within financial planning firms, and that’s where paraplanners come in.

What is a paraplanner?

Paraplanners are not merely financial planners in training; they are specialists in their own right. They are the architects behind the scenes, laying the foundation upon which financial planners build. They handle everything from data gathering and analysis to preparing financial reports and recommendations. So, what’s the best way to incorporate these specialists into an advice firm?

In-house paraplanners: Pros and cons


  • Seamless Communication: Having a paraplanner in-house means they’re just a desk away. The ease of communication can be invaluable.
  • Control Over Client Data: When a paraplanner is part of a team, there is more control over client data, ensuring it’s handled with the utmost care.
  • Company Culture: An in-house paraplanner can be fully immersed in a company’s culture, which can be a significant advantage.


  • Overhead Costs: Salaries, benefits, office space—these add up.
  • Training Requirements: In-house staff will need ongoing training, another cost to consider.
  • Limited Scalability: If a firm grows, its in-house team will need to grow, and that’s not always feasible on short notice.

Outsourced paraplanners: Pros and cons


  • Cost-effectiveness: Firms pay for the service, not the overheads. Simple as that.
  • Scalability: Need more hands on deck during the busy season? Outsourcing can provide that flexibility.
  • Broad Skill Set: Outsourced firms often have paraplanners with diverse expertise, offering a range of skills that a firm might not find in-house.


  • Communication Barriers: Emails and video calls can’t replace face-to-face interactions. Are firms willing to compromise on that?
  • Data Security: Outsourcing means client data is in someone else’s hands. Which raises issues of company trust?
  • Company Culture: An outsourced paraplanner won’t be part of the daily office life, which could be a cultural loss for a firm.

Training and development: In-house vs. Outsourced

Training is a non-negotiable, whether a paraplanner is in-house or outsourced. The financial world is not static, and neither should be a team’s skill set. In-house training programmes can be tailored to a firm’s specific needs, but outsourced paraplanners often come with a broad range of training and may require less time to get up to speed.

The role of AI in paraplanning

Artificial Intelligence is not the future; it’s the present. AI can handle routine tasks, freeing up paraplanners for more complex activities. But can AI replace the human touch, the nuanced understanding of a client’s needs and fears? That’s a rhetorical question, by the way. The answer is a resounding “No.”

Data Security: Safeguarding client information

Whether in-house or outsourced, data security is paramount. In-house may offer more control, but it also requires a robust IT infrastructure. Outsourced services often have stringent data security measures, but a firm is placing trust in an external entity. It’s a delicate balance, one that requires careful consideration.

In-house or outsourced, each option has its merits and drawbacks. The decision should align with a firm’s goals, culture, and operational needs. Training, the role of AI, and data security are not mere footnotes; they are critical chapters in a firm’s story. So, what will it be? The comfort of in-house familiarity or the allure of outsourced expertise?

At Standards International, we’ve witnessed first hand the transformative power of the paraplanning profession. Recognising its significance, we’ve crafted The Paraplanner Standard™ of Excellence, a certification scheme designed to elevate the role of paraplanners within the financial planning industry. This standard not only acknowledges the critical role paraplanners play but also provides a framework for their development and recognition.

More about The Paraplanner Standard™ can be found HERE.

Professional Paraplanner