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By Alex Russon, Managing Consultant – Financial Services 

While the financial services sector is abundant with career opportunities and pathways for development, one role that is really emerging as a career of choice is that of a paraplanner. Hailed as the incremental and complimentary sidekick to a top-class financial adviser – these employees have rapidly increased in importance in recent years.

 What does a paraplanner actually do?

Alex Russon

Alex Russon

While a lot of people know that a paraplanner is a more junior member of a financial planning team, you could be forgiven for not knowing exactly what they do, day-to-day. The simple reason: it varies a lot depending on the size of the firm, responsibility level and workload of the paraplanner in question. But one thing that everyone seems to agree on is how much the role has changed over the last 15 years.

As financial advisers work hard to build their book of business, attend client meetings and retain long-lasting relationships with these clients, the paraplanner has become the reliable right-hand support to keep workloads manageable, accurate and by the book. The integral need for top-quality paraplanners has signalled a rapid rise in demand for this role. Cue, the rise of the paraplanner.

Benefits of a career in paraplanning

Many may underestimate the important role a paraplanner can play and are quick to write it off as an administrative function. This isn’t entirely accurate – in fact there is a great amount of technical ability required to do the job well and effectively. These more analytical skills are often nurtured and developed with compliance front-of-mind, allowing these workers to build and refine technical accuracy quickly and effectively.

Due to the increase in demand for these employees, many firms are shifting the traditional format of the role in order to be more competitive against rival companies and more appealing to candidates– particularly to the younger generation. As a result, a lot of firms are introducing more of a client-facing capacity to the position, allowing paraplanners to mirror skills often found in a top-tier financial adviser. This is not necessarily to accommodate a change of career in the long run, but more to polish and target particular skills and experience to better the candidate.

The nature of paraplanning in many cases is analytical, using technology to simplify processes, which means a lot of this work can be done remotely. At Heat Recruitment we are seeing an enhanced offering of flexible and remote working options offered to candidates as an incentive. Not only can this help employees achieve a better work-life balance, but itcould also help alleviate financial pressures linked with a lengthy commute.

We’re currently experiencing a candidate-driven market. High demand, coupled with a lack of skilled employees means that an experienced, or even an entry-level paraplanner will be faced with the opportunity to secure a solid salary and benefits package. As long as the candidate is motivated and skilled, they can end up having a very successful career in the financial services sector.

Progression and opportunity

As part of Heat Recruitment’s 2020 financial services’ salary survey we uncovered some startling statistics linked to the earning potential of a paraplanner. For more junior roles, salaries are sitting at an average of around £26,300 in London and £19,500 at a regional level which is fairly standard for the sector as a whole. However, as experience builds, and the years rack up – the scope for earning is high.

Paraplanning Managers, for example, are earning anything between £40,000 and £75,000 across the UK – a very generous salary for a position that doesn’t necessarily require qualifications to get into. In a sector that is focused on regulation and qualifications, this exemplifies what a fantastic career opportunity paraplanning is for candidates of all levels.

It is possible to secure a job as a paraplanner without a university degree, and many businesses are now realising the benefits of upskilling and training their workforce as a means to retain them. Many firms will offer opportunities to study the Chartered Insurance Institute qualifications that will enable ‘chartered’ paraplanner status – offering a skilled paraplanner the opportunity to climb even further up in the salary bandings.

Alongside qualifications and greater client responsibility, opportunities to fine-tune personal soft skills are also accessible to paraplanners. Assertiveness, time-management, communication and teamwork are just a handful of the soft skills that candidates can build on during their time in a paraplanning role.

 What the future holds for paraplanner

Firms are fast realising the importance of attracting, incentivising and retaining top-quality paraplanner talent. Not only to meet demand, but to future-proof the business and allow for growth. Additionally for candidates, paraplanning roles are opening more doors than ever.

Not only can a motivated candidate fast-track their financial services career, or move into roles such as management, compliance and advice, but staying in a paraplanner role also offers great long-term remunerative rewards. There has never been a better time to start a career as a paraplanner and with the market likely to continue in its candidate-driven nature, hard-working individuals should make the most of job security and the many progression opportunities on offer.

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