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Professional touch

Darren Mackle, Consultancy View

Paraplanner has become a buzz word within the financial services marketplace. It is used to describe a hotly valued professional who is able to impact on the profitability of any IFA business. In any service industry, the ability to focus on customers and to give 100 per cent satisfaction in a time-effective manner is the key to customer retention and hence profitability. Paraplanners heighten service standards – and this impacts directly on the bottom line.

Industry regulation has created a big amount of paperwork and time spent on admin. This can distract IFAs away from their more profitable core advisory skills. How long does it take to write a bespoke report or to research all the options for a large portfolio? How long does it take to check everything is compliant so you will not get the FSA knocking at your door? Without question, the ability to rely on someone else to complete these functions is an asset to any IFA practice, saving the adviser valuable time and resources.

The term paraplanner is now used to describe a spectrum of professionals with varying levels of experience – from senior sales support administrators to top-end AFPC-qualified technicians. The position of paraplanner also provides a link for staff to overcome the void between sales support and the position of IFA. It should be noted paraplanning is now a profession in its own right – not just a passageway of becoming an IFA. Senior technicians now realise that they are a very valuable cog in the business wheel and that it is worth dedicating time to study and to perfect the skills and knowledge required for the role.

Experienced paraplanners have become highly sought. Due to limited supply and high demand for good talent, salaries have increased significantly in recent years. A good senior support/junior paraplanner with FPC3 and three or four years of experience would command salaries in London in the region of 24,000 to 28,000. A senior paraplanner with extensive experience, AFPC qualified and able to advise and carry out most of the duties of the IFA will command a figure of almost double that – with bonuses and benefits on top.

Envision operates a specialist division, focused on the recruitment of paraplanners. It has become apparent to us that some companies are offering these extra incentives described above in an attempt to reduce the basic salary. Companies that try to do this will find their job offers rejected. Incentives need to be offered in addition to a decent rate of pay in order to attract the best candidates. Clients offering a good basic salary, team and individual bonuses, employee benefits and support for progression consistently secure the best talent.

A good paraplanner will often support two or three IFAs. In our experience, the calculation shows that the ratio of paraplanners to IFAs out there in the recruitment marketplace is one for every two to three IFAs and we all know how easy it is to recruit a good IFA.

But do not despair! These people are out there. But to entice them away from the devil they know, you may need to be quite creative in putting together your employment package. You also need to appreciate what they want – which is support for day-to-day work, financial and professional progression and recognition from the people they work with. These people are more than administrators.

Darren Mackie is senior consultant at Envision

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