IFP’s Sue Whitbread: So, what makes a good paraplanner?

A recent survey conducted by the Institute of Financial Planning revealed that paraplanners are both very well qualified and valued by colleagues as an integral part of a financial planning business. So it seems logical to lift the lid on the role and see what makes a great paraplanner. In the early 1990s, the term paraplanner was widely used for anyone working in an administrative or supporting role within an advisory firm. Thankfully, we have moved on and paraplanning has deservedly gained recognition. A few years ago, the IFP drafted a paraplanner job profile which focused on four key areas: preparing and maintaining the client file; preparing recommendations; implementing the recommendations; and review. To achieve this, paraplanners need a sound understanding of the financial planning process and need to be able to:  
  • Work accurately within defined business processes, independently or in a team;
  • Achieve agreed outcomes without supervision;
  • Multi-task, prioritise and plan own workload effectively;
  • Pay attention to detail and communicate articulately;
  • Demonstrate excellent interpersonal skills;
  • Demonstrate strong analytical, IT and report-writing skills.
Also required is a broad knowledge of the financial services world as well as up-to-date and detailed technical knowledge on all key product and business areas, including taxation, regulation, legislation and compliance. That is quite a list and it shows why so many paraplanners are as experienced and qualified as the advisers or planners they support. Businesses looking to recruit will seek candidates with qualifications and any who have won prestigious paraplanning awards. The award was created in 2008 by The Paraplanner.com and it is quite a test. Entrants must first complete a technical online questionnaire and then submit a 1,000-word response to one of two questions set by the judges. Finally, they must supply a testimonial from an adviser colleague. Reflecting this, the IFP is pleased to assume responsibility for organising and judging this year’s Paraplanner of the Year Award. It is a natural fit for us and we are keen to extend its reach to encourage even more entrants. The IFP is also developing a new section on its website – going live later this month – which will include a regular paraplanner blogspot. Entries for the Paraplanner of the Year Award open on 5 August and close on 6 September. More details  can be found at  www.financialplanning.org.uk.   Click Here to see the Full Video Interview: Sue Whitbread Interview   Sue Whitbread is communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning