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What could 2018 bring for paraplanners?

7 February 2018

The introduction of a benchmark for the paraplanning role and one set of qualifications would help, says Jamie Evans, Business Development Manager, Seven Investment Management

2017 was a year that Seven Investment Management (7IM) will use as a benchmark for our future plans in support of paraplanners. We attended the September Powwow, our fifth time at one of these gatherings, and also organised five of our own one day training sessions, including more held outside of London. And it’s support that we plan to continue, sitting alongside the many other industry events that we organise and sponsor.

That support is there because of the talent that we see at these events, and the useful conversations we have with this important group of individuals. The people we meet are often key to the success of their adviser firms – in fact, we regularly see people who are the driving force of many a business. Working with paraplanners also helps us as a business improve as to how we partner with adviser firms, getting valuable feedback on the way that our processes actually work.

There is, however, hopefully another role for us to play – in helping the industry form better benchmarks for paraplanners to make use of. At the moment few benchmarks exist. So, for example, each time we organise or attend a gathering, we note that the role varies widely from firm to firm, that the level of accountability within firms differs and that the role exerts varying levels of influence on processes. Some are able to make a difference to the benefit of advisers and clients alike, others want to but don’t have the mandate. Even the job title can vary with some holding administration titles rather than that of paraplanner, which causes confusion when they interact with anyone outside of their own firm.

Standardising these across the industry will help paraplanners, advisers and clients. It will help paraplanners as they appreciate what standards they need to meet as they learn the intricate details of client work, how regulatory influence changes the industry and, for those lucky enough, begin learning the skills needed to help manage the clients themselves. It also helps those starting out as they can choose what qualifications they want to take and know that they will achieve the set standards without then coming up against personal biases which can happen at the moment between institutions e.g. personal preferences between a Chartered Insurance Institute qualification versus that of the London Institute of Banking and Finance.

It will also help advisers as they will be able to become more certain of what support they can expect and appreciate what the best practice is for that support. It will also help those who needed paraplanner work done, but have chosen not to employ in-house, or simply haven’t because of their firm’s size. While there is now a great selection of experienced paraplanners available to outsource work to, greater alignment on standards and what advisers can expect helps both sides of a subcontracting situation.

Clients can benefit as it will be easier for them to understand the role that paraplanners play in helping them with their money and investments and, as a result of that recognition, allow for paraplanners to step in when clients have basic demands without the client feeling that their request was delegated to the lowest level of support.

For 7IM, therefore, the introduction of one standard and one set of exams should only be encouraged – we fully support both measures. And it would only help the strong community of paraplanners as they could share more best practice and prompt better conversations that could improve the industry as a whole.

 

 

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