Less than half of paraplanners (47%) see a clear career path in a recent parameters survey from Professional Paraplanner.
While respondents agreed that the learning structure has improved in recent years, many noted that the role of paraplanner continues to differ greatly between firms.
One respondent said: “The paraplanner role is defined by the company for which they work and that differs from company to company, so I can’t see how there can be a career structure when the role differs so widely.”
Another added: “I think that the career structure is improving, although it largely depends on how the individual firms treat this – paraplanning is such a broad term and can encompass a broad spectrum of roles.”
The size of the firm was also found to play a role, with larger firms considered to have more of a structured path in place.
However, a number of paraplanners said the role of paraplanner is still largely viewed by some in the industry as a stepping stone to becoming an adviser.
One paraplanner commented: “It is always deemed that paraplanners want to go and advise. Personally, I enjoy being the adviser support and being the person they can bounce ideas off.”
Another echoed the sentiment, noting that it is “assumed that all paraplanners want to become advisers” and beyond that, there has been little exploration around what other options there are for paraplanners.
While the introduction of the LIBF’s Diploma in Paraplanning has helped to create greater scope and a more structured path, one respondent said: “When you get to a fully fledged paraplanner and suitably qualified, what else is there to push for?”
For paraplanners who want to make the leap from paraplanner to adviser, respondents felt firms should allow them to attend client meetings so that the transition will be less “abrupt”.
Meanwhile, the survey found that those outside of the industry may also find it difficult to enter into the path of paraplanner.
According to one respondent: “For outsiders looking to step into financial services, there may not be as many avenues given that firms often want an administrator with some experience to train up as a paraplanner.”