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New way of working – Cooper Parry Wealth

31 January 2019

Rob Kingsbury spoke to Chetan Ravalia , paraplanning manager, and Codie Smith, paraplanner at Cooper Parry Wealth, about where their roles fit in the firm’s new operational structure, and their approach to paraplanning, including the onboarding of a new client.

In the July issue of Professional Paraplanner I talked to David Carroll, financial planner manager at Cooper Parry Wealth about the new structure brought in by the firm. David explained that it was designed to play to each individual’s strengths. As such, it split the paraplanning role between paraplanners who relished client contact, which were renamed financial planners, and paraplanners who prefer the more technical, non-client facing role (see the box for more detail on the firm’s roles post the restructure).

But I wanted to get a deeper picture and so arranged to talk with Chetan Ravalia (Chets), paraplanning manager, and Codie Smith, paraplanner, about how they are adapting to the new structure and provide some insight into their approach to paraplanning day-to-day.

I met Chets and Codie at Cooper parry Wealth’s Birmingham office. Like the firm’s East Midlands office, it is far from traditional, being open plan with themed meeting rooms and areas, designed to help break down traditional modes and inspire creativity and an open-minded approach to working, where everything can be challenged to make it better for clients and staff and so the firm. That is reflected in the recent blank-piece-of-paper approach that was taken to restructuring the business .

The new structure in practice

So how does the new structure work from the point of view of paraplanners now sitting in the financial planning and technical roles?

Chets explains that those within the firm’s paraplanning team are “what you could call a traditional paraplanner… we analyse investment and products, provide financial plans, undertake any ad hoc suitability reports, and prepare annual documents for financial reviews and so on. We are the paraplanners who love writing the reports and putting the advice together.”

The paraplanners now termed financial planners, he adds, have responsibility for finalising the reports the paraplanners produce, they sit in on client meetings, are the second point of contact with the client after the relationship manager and have the day-to-day liaison with the client.

Using as an example the bringing on board of a new client, Codie says, that there is a defined five stage onboarding process. Once it has been determined that the client is the right fit for the firm and the fact find has been undertaken, it is the responsibility of the financial planner and the paraplanner assigned to that client to liaise and project manage the whole work. “So it will be with us to deliver on time, to a high standard. As paraplanners we’ll complete the work based on the fact find and meeting notes. We like to complete our work to a 99% completion standard, the financial planner will go that extra mile adding finer detail and checking our calculations and recommendations, and then finally over to the relationship managers, aiming for 110% completion”.

“From the fact find we need to understand what the client wants and what their objectives are – enough to build a financial plan,” Chets continues. “The emphasis is on the paraplanner to take all the information from the fact find meeting and start putting our draft recommendations together.

“Once we have those recommendations we’ll organise a case conference. We’ll meet with the financial planner and the relationship manager and put forward our draft recommendations. When we’re in agreement, the paraplanners will start to build a cashflow and put a financial plan in place and then have the finished article ready to give to the financial planner and the relationship manager to present to the client.”

An important part of the financial planner role is to project manage the rest of the team to ensure everything is running smoothly, Codie adds. This requires liaising with the client support associates, who work alongside the relationship managers in terms of obtaining all the paperwork that is needed as well as making sure the meetings are booked with the client, the meeting room is sorted, and all the necessary the letters of authority have been sent off and returned in time. The paraplanners will then liaise with the portfolio analysts and client support associates to ensure all analysis and information is in and we can start the planning process.

“We have a spreadsheet where we collate all the technical information, to ensure it is all analysed,” she says. Part of that analysis is of the client’s existing investments and that will be undertaken by a dedicated portfolio team, who analyse the investments both at outset and for review meetings.

Once the recommendations have been presented, before signing the client to the firm, a further meeting is arranged in order to give the client an opportunity to ask questions about anything they do not understand or on which they want more information.

“It gives the relationship manager and the financial planner a chance to chat things over with the client,” Codie says. “It’s really informal. We check the client is ok, where they stand, where we stand, and then the papers are signed. All our meetings include a tax adviser as well, who will look at any tax and estate planning issues.” “Our client support associates attend these too, to ensure all the relevant paperwork has been signed and everything is in hand”.

We will meet with the client six weeks after our implementation meeting to give an update of the current position. This is great client face time – we give our clients peace of mind that everything is in hand, follow up on any further or outstanding actions and generally have a chat about the ins and outs of where we are at”

Once the client has signed to the firm and the financial plan is in place, six monthly meetings are arranged with the client, Chets explains, “for a general catch-up around how they are getting on and how their portfolio has performed. Then, on an annual basis, we’ll review their position in depth, their objectives and make sure they are still on track to achieve their goals.”

“We really focus on where the clients are now, what they want to do in the future, what they have going on, in order to form part of that ongoing annual process. It is about their bigger picture,” Codie emphasises. “We want to know our clients, understand them, help them meet their dreams and goals. We have this five-stage planning process in place to ensure we capture everything but it’s difficult to put into words the extent to which we go for our clients. Knowing what wealth they have helps us write the financial plan but knowing our client drives it. It’s the backbone of everything we do for our clients, it’s our Bigger Picture.”

The new role structure at Cooper Parry Wealth 

Relationship managers (previously financial advisers): Responsible for maintaining the relationship with the existing clients, bringing in new clients and business development. Ultimately responsible for the regulatory compliance of advice.

Financial planners (previously paraplanners): First point of contact for day-to-day queries. Accountable for the quality of all reports and suitability. Support the relationship managers.

Paraplanners (technicians): Responsible for analysis of clients’ financial position, construct the advice underpinning each financial plan and creating the initial and ongoing and ad hoc suitability reports.

Client services associates: Responsible for administration, obtaining information, keeping clients up-to-date on progress and arranging meetings etc. Key members of the client-facing team.

Portfolio analysts: Undertake investment analysis, ongoing performance reporting and trading.


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