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What a time to be a paraplanner

29 August 2019

With the ability to freelance and better control your work/life balance, there has probably never been a better time to be a paraplanner. But going it alone can be daunting. Jonathan Dawson, paraplanning director, 1to1 Paraplanning, looks at the opportunities and how a paraplanning network can help people make that leap from employed to freelance career.

I remember returning from Austria after a sabbatical deliberating on whether I wanted to return to the front line of being an IFA or a 9-5 in the financial services sector – neither appealed to me. I always wanted to start my own business. With my advice and technical background, I was presented with two options; start a small advice practice or an outsourced paraplanning business.

In 2015, outsourced paraplanning businesses peppered the industry rather than coated it. Fortunately for me, I was able to quickly establish business with several advice firms who provided me with a regular flow of cases. Selling my years of experience working with HNW clients and complex financial planning scenarios, I formed a bond with boutique wealth managers in the City and 1to1 Paraplanning was positioned as a premium paraplanning service to high flying advisers.

The beauty of working for myself was that I could work from anywhere in the world and this yielded the luxury of working remotely in some warm and sunny European cities whilst incrementally building my reputation and portfolio of wealth management businesses.

In the summer of 2018, I was working remotely from Aticco a stunning co-working space in the heart of Barcelona. I’m 99.9% sure I was the only paraplanner amongst designers, developers, and fashion heads. I could see that the freelance movement had reached most sectors in a big way but was this is also true for the UK paraplanning sector?

In 2019, I started the UK’s first Paraplanning Network with the mission and vision of helping those who want to transition from employed to freelance. Our structure, tried and tested, takes a lot of the stress and anxiety out of this transition and enables freelancers to build successful relationships with advisers which will bear long term fruit.

Overwhelming within 12 weeks of launching, we had over 30 enquiries from existing freelance paraplanners or curious employed paraplanners looking for an alternative work/life balance and a route to market which fulfilled their aspirations.

Being a freelance paraplanner provides a high level of flexibility but it’s not without its challenges and advisers today expect a high level of professionalism, compliance and business operations awareness, as well as a secure means of sharing and managing data in line with GDPR requirements. For the newbie freelancer, going to market with a suite of re-drafted suitability templates and Dropbox doesn’t fly in the current climate with established firms who are going to be your ticket to a sustainable workflow.

The 1to1 Paraplanning Network provides the following benefits to vetted and RQF level 4-6 qualified members in exchange for a minimal fee share on billable work.

  • Professional website, business cards, and email address
  • Adviser collaboration software
  • Professional onboarding process
  • Suitability report writing software and content manager
  • All billing is handled on behalf of members
  • Member system training and business coaching
  • Extended network of paraplanners and third parties
  • PI cover

My message to wannabe or newbie self-employed paraplanners is don’t go it alone and re-invent the wheel, when you don’t have to. It burns a lot of money, earning time and energy in the initial stages and the build, measure and learn loop thereafter is a prolonged one before you reach a finely tuned outsourced paraplanning structure

1to1 Paraplanning Network equips members with a much stronger paraplanning proposition, solid business processes, a wider market reach and as a result, enabling them to build relationships with established wealth management businesses far easier and quicker than possible as a single entity.

Freelancers typically work from home, a coffee shop, or they may be fortunate enough to find a low cost office share. It can be a lonely gig if you haven’t interacted with another adult for 8 hours. The secondary benefit (primary benefit for some) of a network is members are part of a close community of likeminded people who are all in the same boat and face similar challenges. The buddy system was one feature we introduced and it works really well; if a member is on holiday, needs to take time off, or has overflow, they have a fellow and trusted member who can back them up.

What I would love to see in the next 12 months is a group of network members who live in the same area all come together in a co-working space. Everyone is their own boss and can set their own working hours but they can still feel part of a team which can really help keep momentum and create a culture of share, learn, and grow together.

It’s an exciting time to be in financial services with technology reshaping the way advisers work. Being one step ahead of where WealthTech is pulling the market naturally gives us and our members a competitive edge when adding value to wealth management businesses.

Network website:https://1to1paraplanning.co.uk/network/

Enquiries: [email protected]

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