I read quite a bit about how good paraplanners are so hard to find and retain. Over the last month I’ve been talking to quite a few paraplanners at lots of different firms.
Having been a paraplanner myself in the past and knowing how I was treated, I’ve been asking these paraplanners about how they are being supported in their roles.
The great thing is that, without exception, they all absolutely loved their jobs, most saying that they are career paraplanners and don’t want to do anything else. Some I met were paraplanners and then tried advising but found that they missed the analysis side of things and moved across to be a paraplanner again. That is quite refreshing to hear.
For firms, being able to support staff to develop in whatever way they can is a big step forward from my time as a paraplanner. We have realised that we all have different skills and drivers, and we need a mix of those in firms to stop groupthink and give the best service to the clients.
What was interesting was how paraplanners often didn’t have their own training and development plan. Only one firm out of nine I spoke to in one day said that they had a clear plan for their own development. Maybe this is because some of the paraplanners, whilst they held qualifications above Level 4, were not authorised to give advice.
But we all like to feel valued and supported in our place of work. Paraplanners love what they do. But they, like us all, would like to develop their skills further. No, I don’t mean to become financial advisers or planners. Perhaps there is a case for doing a skills analysis of your entire firm and establishing where the areas of development are for your firm and the paraplanners that work alongside you.
Paraplanners are not just technical people who love numbers. Yes, we are technical and yes, we love numbers, but there are other skills that can help. One such skill might be developing skills to build charts and other visuals in financial plans for clients. This is currently a real hot topic in the paraplanning community; how to enhance certain aspects of financial plans, how to write more succinctly and in plain English and how to show what we mean in pictures, so the clients understand and are not blinded by overly complex graphs and charts.
Speaking up at work can be hard for some paraplanners. Some are naturally shy people. So perhaps helping support those to develop their skills in speaking up at work can benefit all financial planning firms in the long run.
So, if you don’t have a clear training plan for your paraplanner that doesn’t just load them up with more technical knowledge, then you might be in danger of losing them to someone who will offer more.
These topics and more will be discussed at this year’s CISI Paraplanner Conference 17-18 June 2019 at Crown Plaza, Stratford-Upon-Avon.