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New Diploma in Paraplanning launched

13 January 2020

The London Institute of Banking & Finance has launched a new Level 4 qualification in paraplanning, developed in consultation with the industry.

Mark Heaton, managing director of Corporate & Professional Learning at The London Institute of Banking & Finance (pictured), said LIBF had launched the qualification in recognition that “the skills and knowledge being demanded of paraplanners has grown extensively, particularly post MIFID II”.

He said: “Whereas in the past [paraplanning] may have been a ‘stepping stone’ to becoming a financial adviser, it is now a career in its own right. It is a highly technical role, and paraplanners are relied on by those in advisory positions as well as clients themselves.

“It’s time to reflect that in our qualifications and support paraplanners in getting the recognition they deserve. We’ve worked very closely with the industry to ensure we achieve that.”

Heaton added that what distinguishes the LIBF Level 4 Diploma in Paraplanning, is that it takes “a practical and blended learning approach, including case studies. We’ve also mapped the qualification to the paraplanner apprenticeship standard.

“By taking this practical approach, Heaton said, it is hoped that the qualification will help the sector recruit a new generation of paraplanners “to help fill the skills gap”.

The qualification opens for registrations today (13 Jan) and the start date is 17 February 2020. It replaces the existing Level 3 Certificate in Paraplanning & Financial Administration (CertPFA). Students currently studying the Level 3 qualification will be able to continue their studies or transfer to the new Level 4 qualification.

There will be four exam sittings a year and the qualification will comprise of two units covering:

  • the UK financial services industry, in its European and global context
  • the FCA’s responsibilities and approach to regulation
  • different types of risk and how they relate to institutions and individuals
  • ethical, legal and vulnerability considerations
  • impact of taxation on investments and other recommended solutions
  • skills required to produce a suitability report that meets your customer’s needs and aspirations.

Unit 1 – Financial Services Regulation and Ethics (FSRE). This looks at financial institutions and services, the nature of risk and the FCA’s approach to ethical behaviour in financial advice.

Unit 2 – Paraplanner (PARA): This will help students relate the broader market to the role of a paraplanner, along with helping students to understand the influencing factors for client recommendations and how to demonstrate the required research to produce a suitability report to a high standard. It takes a practical and blended learning approach, including case studies.

The qualification should take nine months to obtain.

Commenting on the launch, Michelle Wilson-Stimson, managing director of eParaplan, who was consulted with in the development of the course, said the new qualification is “very much needed in such a fast paced and ever-changing profession.

“LIBF are really keen to introduce qualifications that have both great merit to not only individuals but the businesses they work for also.

“Being aligned to the paraplanner apprenticeship standard provides a fantastic opportunity for trainees to have both hands-on experience as well as passing examinations that truly reflect their day-to-day role. This is a path we will be introducing for new trainees going forward due to its perfect alignment with skill and qualification to the paraplanning role.”

David Owen, Wealth Director at Lifetime Connect, said: “Arguably, paraplanners need to be more technically proficient, competent and with better written skills than advisers. Having a Level 4 qualification that focuses on the practical skills, as well as the technical knowledge, will provide paraplanners with the recognition they deserve. This qualification is a gamechanger.”

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