What is the route to becoming a paraplanner?

by Heat Recruitment

Until approximately 20 years ago, the role of a paraplanner was non-existent. Hopping between client-facing and back-office tasks, independent financial advisors were faced with endless to-do lists prior to the creation of this now-critical role.

In recent years, paraplanners have made themselves indispensable by enabling independent financial advisors to concentrate on writing new business and addressing their clients’ needs. In a 2018 study, nearly two-thirds (65%) of advisers said paraplanners free them up to concentrate on more valuable activities, while just under half (47%) said they added value in non-financial ways.

Today, talented paraplanners are in high demand; the part they play in the successful running of a wealth management firm is indisputable. However, the route to becoming a paraplanner is not clear cut, and entrants come from various career paths. In any case, budding professionals eager to become paraplanning superstars should aim to have the following:

A relevant qualification

Although there are no set professional qualifications you need to be a paraplanner, most employers expect a certain level of technical competency and accreditation. Naturally, graduates of business, economics, finance and mathematics schools will boast the most relevant vocational experience in the talent pool, and degrees in these subjects will be necessary for those seeking to enter the profession as a trainee financial adviser.

Certain employers may be precise in their educational requirements, seeking only candidates who have completed or are working towards a qualification such as The Chartered Insurance Institute’s (CII) Certificate in Financial Planning (Cert FP) or The Institute of Financial Planning’s Certificate in Paraplanning.

The creation of these specialist qualifications highlights the growing need for well-skilled paraplanners in the industry – whichever you choose, strengthening your knowledge will certainly help to build a foundation for your career.

Hands-on experience

Naturally, previous experience in the finance sector is an advantage, and many paraplanners move into this career from an administration role in a wealth management firm. This makes for an excellent starting point, and candidates coming from this route will come equipped with experience in the day-to-day running of the office and have already received an introduction into this fast-paced sector.

By combining their general administration skills with external financial services qualifications, candidates with administration experience become highly desirable paraplanners. Similarly, firms looking to fill a paraplanner vacancy will favour applicants who have experience as a trainee financial adviser, though it is possible to enter this work through an Advanced Apprenticeship in advising on financial products.

On-the-job training

Paraplanners will come from a range of backgrounds; they will differ in their experience and mode of entry into the profession. However, irrespective of their experience, new paraplanners will receive training in the technical aspects of the role as well as the particular financial products offered by the firm.

Senior paraplanners and financial advisors will tend to take charge of the training, involving new recruits in tasks such as researching relevant  products for their clients. New paraplanners will usually be encouraged to attend seminars and workshops to expand their knowledge and get accustomed with the key responsibilities of the role.

Looking to kickstart your career as a paraplanner? Teaming up with a specialist recruiter can open you up to opportunities and find a firm that’s right for you. Give Heat Recruitment a call today.

by Alex Russon