What are the biggest drains on paraplanner productivity?

26 February 2024

Financial advice firms need productive employees to be successful but official figures have shown that UK productivity has fallen among the lowest of the G7 countries in recent years. In an increasingly busy world, how do paraplanners juggle their responsibilities and what are the factors that are inhibiting them from maximising their output?  

For Professional Paraplanner’s Parameters Survey, we asked paraplanners about the biggest drain on their personal productivity.

Respondents admitted that the requirements of the role means they are often “pulled in multiple directions”, with paraplanners expected to work across several clients at the same time.

Dealing with various clients also means dealing with different providers and a clear trend that emerged from the findings of the survey was difficulty in overcoming the various challenges posed by providers. These include a lack of clear communication, minimal online functionality and slow timelines.

One paraplanner told Professional Paraplanner the biggest drain on their productivity is the ongoing servicing of clients that used to be dealt with by providers but is now the remit of the advisory firm.

“Each platform /provider has different processes that don’t make it easy. They are all very helpful when investing new money but fail dismally when it comes to the ongoing servicing, which for our client bank is imperative.”

Another said the biggest barrier to productivity was time spent chasing providers.

“For example, chasing missing information, chasing transfers etc. Small things like providers not communicating turnaround times so then having to call to chase things or platforms not having the functionality to carry out certain actions online,” they explained. “It’s always the small things that add up.”

The sentiment was echoed by a fellow paraplanner, who commented: “Inefficient providers taking ages to provide information, deal with requests and answer the phone. Slow systems and antiquated product administration, for example having to call for basic information such as values and charges.”

Other paraplanners agreed that a lack of information from advisers was also problematic.

One commentator said the biggest drain on productivity is advisers “not passing on information” and having to wait for advisers to give “concise instructions following meetings as to what is happening next and what client objectives are in a timely manner.”

Another paraplanner said their biggest productivity challenge was receiving poor quality notes from advisers on client files, which can lead to more work being done than is necessary and a great deal of time focused on trying to understand the client’s situation.

And while the past few years has seen digitisation within firms gather momentum, with the financial advice sector under increasing pressure to keep pace with other industries, many firms continue to deal with slow and archaic systems.

One paraplanner told Professional Paraplanner: “Our CRM system doesn’t open documents properly so we need to screenshot every part of the letter. Today it has taken me four hours just based on a 7 pension transfer report.”

The survey also shone a spotlight on the various day-to-day pressures placed on paraplanners’ time, including needing to help junior staff, juggling client meetings, training and fielding emails.

One said their day was continuously interrupted by junior members of the team asking questions.

“Not that these are unwelcome as we all need to learn but it does affect my productivity,” they explained.

Another respondent said the biggest impact on their productivity was “helping and training others in job roles peripheral to my main objective.”

Others attributed a drop in productivity due to “small and urgent tasks” distracting from larger pieces of work, as well as external phone calls and general office disruptions disrupting their thought process, making it harder to throw themselves back into the task at hand.

One added: “The biggest drain is the bombardment of calls, team messages, team calls and 200 emails a day.”

Main image: simon-hurry-Lhx_5_DJajE-unsplash

Professional Paraplanner