Us paraplanners have been banging on for some time about how important we are in a modern financial planning business and it seems others are starting to take notice now.
This week saw the exciting news that threesixty has bought at 25 per cent share in The Timebank – huge congratulations to all involved. What this shows is not just that paraplanning is a key service but is in enough demand to be able to build a saleable, or investable, business on.
Phil Young of threesixty commented on Twitter that he wouldn’t be surprised to see a raft of announcements of companies buying into paraplanning businesses and I think he could be right.
Paraplanning isn’t a flash in the pan phenomenon, contrary to some beliefs. It is a vital element to the way modern financial planning firms are run and part of what helps them service their clients so effectively. The level of demand is so great that we even have a waiting list of firms who would like to use our services.
Attracting a third party investor is testament to the long term viability of the service which the business is offering.
When we consider this together with the paraplanner qualifications that are now available, along with the awards, seminars and paraplanner specific segments in trade publications, it is incredibly heartening to see the profession grow, thrive and prove the doubters wrong.
So where next in the paraplanner sphere?
Within our business, we have recently had a bespoke project management system buil,t as there is no paraplanner specific technology out there currently, and I personally think this is an area which could see a lot of development in the coming years. Additionally, service providers are seeing the benefit in offering paraplanning as one of their core services and so more investment in paraplanning companies seems inevitable.
While all of these are incredibly positive indicators, the number of paraplanners countrywide is still very low.
As with the industry generally, most paraplanners have fallen into this role with little known about it outside the industry. This means that new entrants are rarely attracted into this role and this should also be a focus in coming years.
Ongoing support from the IFP and PFS certainly helps as does the emergence of financial services qualifications at universities around the country. I think this weeks news could just be the start of things to come in the paraplanning world.
Cathi Harrison is director of Para-sols