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

Philippa Gee 160 byline

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.

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 award was created in 2008 by The 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. 

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

Sue Whitbread is communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. What makes a good paraplanner?

    1. Boring personality.
    2. Likes exams.
    3. Unable to sell.
    4. Ability to advise without responsibility.
    5. Good at typing.

    About covers it.

  2. Aww Bish! Nice to see you’re back! We’ve missed your witty comments….

    I know you’ll be proud of how well I’ve typed this comment too.


  3. Another quality and productive comment from a world renowned financial professional. Oh sorry wrong post.

    I think Richard can add the above comment to his long list of useless comments and opinions.

  4. What im seeing here is Sue trying to write a nice article about paraplanners which is rare and most welcome, and an hot headed IFA trying to make fun out of paraplanners and degrade them.

    Richard go and sell some FIB to small businesses and stop bullying the paraplanners you beta male.

  5. @Jo – It made me laugh typing it.

    We need to club together and get Rob a sense of humour. Poor chap is very depressed.

  6. Once a Richard…..always a Richard!

  7. Richard I have a sense of humour, I’m always laughing at your posts. I know your a bit of a joker, hence you worked at the CIS.

    The point is paraplanners add great value to any IFA, thats why many get paid really well. Salaries of £40k plus couldn’t be justified if paraplanners were not a valuable resource. I admit like any role many are better than others.

  8. I love paraplanners really. If I was still on commish I could afford one. On fee’s I’m broke.

    The RDR is bugg*r. :0))

  9. Whirling Dervish McPhee 5th August 2013 at 8:08 pm

    Richard Bishop are you tripping ? A good paraplanner adds significant value and benefits everyone . They adopt the practices ,principles and habits that we set out for them.Most of all they tend to act in your image .Credit where it’s due and set good examples to these young people.

  10. Richard Bishop | 5 Aug 2013 8:18 am

    I’ll add something to your list.

    6. Good at pointing out errors in advisers’ recommendations

  11. Ding ding! another round with Mr B…

    1. Boring personality. // I’m sorry, have we met? I don’t remember you (you must have really made an impression!)
    2. Likes exams. // How else do we demonstrate our professionalism? Oh.
    3. Unable to sell. // Different job mate. I’m also unable to lay bricks, fly a Boeing, etc. What’s your point?
    4. Ability to advise without responsibility. // No, just better at the written word. I’m not a people person. Is that ok with you?
    5. Good at typing. Hell yeah, but even better at making sure advisers are providing great advice, clearly presented, whilst covering their butts against the FCA and potential client complaints (justified or not). Get it down in writing and no one can argue with it.

    What makes a good Richard Bishop:

    1. Repeatedly giving your own stale opinion about that same subject.
    2. Making yourself laugh (ok, I had a bit of a titter too, but….)
    3. Being unable to charge fees to clients.
    4.Well, it’s the same as number one again really.

    I’m glad you have an opinion (yawn). I’d say it’s time to move on, but I’m getting to quite enjoy these little sessions!

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