Is Paraplanning fast-becoming a career of choice for the financial services sector?

by Heat Recruitment

In 2014, the Institute of Financial Planning (now CISI) paraplanner conference warned of a shortage of skilled paraplanners within the financial services sector. Three years later and those shortages still persist despite rapidly rising salaries and increased responsibility for the role itself, but the tide would appear to be turning.

It is well documented that Paraplanners are in high demand and short supply. This is pushing salaries upwards as employers seek to attract the best paraplanning talent that is both on the market and in it, but why is this? There are a couple of key reasons.

Firstly, there could be a lack of understanding of what a Paraplanner actually is. The conventional view is that paraplanning is not a stand-alone profession in its own right; rather, it is still seen by some within the sector as being a stepping-stone into financial advisor roles.

However, the role has evolved in recent years into something more technical. This in turn, has seen firms relying more and more on paraplanners who not only support financial planners, but also client services and other key client facing teams within the organisation.

Secondly, we need to remind ourselves that the role of paraplanner is a relatively new discipline when compared to many other roles within financial services. It was only recently that the profession was recognised as being a role in its own right, with the development of training programmes and resources specific to paraplanners gradually giving greater credence to this as a career of choice.

But a career of choice it most certainly is becoming.

Indeed, we’ve been working with a London-based firm who are looking to hire for a Chartered Paraplanning Manager position and the package being offered is reflective of a growing trend within the sector.

The role comes with a higher-than-average salary of up to £70,000 per annum and an attractive benefits package the likes of which we haven’t seen for some time. This is because firms are all too aware that while the number of available paraplanners is in short supply there is still great talent out there. So to attract the best people to join them, they need to make their offering more attractive – it’s basic economics.

Moreover, the salaries being offered are not simply serving as the proverbial carrot, they are indicative of the growing importance of paraplanning and the increasing dependence placed upon them by financial advisers – many of whom would struggle to perform their role without the support of a paraplanner. As such, we are starting to see the wage gap between the two roles narrowing.

Against this backdrop, we should perhaps be arguing the case that as the role continues to evolve into a more technical and demanding one which is increasingly becoming client-facing, why not encourage professionals to carve out a career over the long-term as a paraplanner, rather than treat it as a springboard into another role…and get paid a great salary for doing so?

The role of paraplanner may not quite be as high on the list of most desirable careers within the financial services sector just yet, but it is edging its way up there slowly and surely and the returns to be gained by pursuing a paraplanning career are clear.

As we have been seen ourselves with the Chartered Planning Manager position mentioned above, the demand for paraplanners is high and this is pushing salaries up; even part-qualified Paraplanners now able to command significant uplifts on their current basic earnings.

By Edward Holdaway, Senior Financial Services Consultant

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