Leading paraplanners have said that setting a standard for the role would help more young people enter the profession as they renew calls to rejuvenate the paraplanning brand.
In a panel discussion with Money Marketing, EQ Investors head of technical Dan Atkinson and Lime Outsourced Paraplanning director Rebecca Lucas welcomed recent discussions on setting a more formal benchmark for the role of a paraplanner.
Lucas said: “I think it’s a great idea to have a standard, to have that framework, especially for new entrants coming in so they can actually see how they progress, that these are the competencies they need to work towards.”
EQ Investors head of technical Dan Atkinson said that paraplanners have developed a real “passion and pride in their professionalism” over the past few years.
“What would be useful is having this running track to see how you progress, and I think that’s a really positive thing around some of these discussions about a paraplanner standard.”
However, both noted the difficulties of having a one-size-fits-all solution for paraplanners.
Lucas said: “It’s quite hard to have a standard, because there isn’t such a thing as a standard paraplanner. We are all so different and all the advisers we work with are so different as well, so I think we need that individuality so that you have got paraplanners and advisers that fit well with them.”
Atkinson added: “You have got the academic side, and lots of paraplanners will be working towards that chartered level, but in terms of a standard, there is no real standard of this is what a paraplanner is, because what one firm needs from a paraplanner is very different to what another firm needs.”
Lucas added that forcing paraplanning to become a regulated role might discourage some new entrants.
She said: “I can see the benefits of that, but what I wouldn’t want to do is say that people can’t become paraplanners. Some people out there aren’t as interested in the technical side but are great report writers, so I wouldn’t want it to be a barrier to entry for those guys coming in.”
The pair agreed that the “paraplanner” title could be updated to better reflect the nature of the role, but that there was no consensus around what a new brand would look like.
Atkinson said: “I haven’t come up with the right one yet – we call our paraplanners technical consultants, which is getting closer to the idea, in that they are technical and consulting with the advisers, but we are not quite satisfied there. It would be good to have a bit of a group think on ideas from the paraplanning profession.”
Lucas said: “I’d like it to have a bit of a revamp. If you think about paralegals, paraplanners are really quite different. Quite often paraplanners will be as qualified as the advisers they are working for, something more qualified, so I think something more like a technical analyst would be good. Because then, when you’re at a wedding or a party, people will actually know that says what you do.”
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