The debate over the validity of paraplanning in the adviser community continues to rumble on. They justify their existence by telling advisers it is stupid to spend so much time on administration and reports as this valuable time could be used to see clients. Personally, I see admin and reports as part of my job.
On the same basis I should employ a chauffeur as time spent driving could be used to make client appointments. You could use the same argument for 90 per cent of the tasks undertaken by an adviser.
Paraplanners, with the help of the Institute of Financial Planning, are trying to build themselves into a profession. The problem with this brand-building exercise is no-one really understands what paraplanning is.“We do not just write reports,” is the common retort to accusing any paraplanner of doing just that.
There appears two factions – report writers and those who do offer a complete holistic service which could include report writing, research, fund portfolio construction, complex tax and trust work and analysis of group pensions or complex corporate pension schemes.
The majority fall into the first camp. A quick scan of paraplanning websites results in pages offering pension switch reports together with completing all that boring administration.
Like many professions defining exactly what a paraplanner does is difficult, I would suggest they can offer real benefit in supporting an adviser (or team of advisers). But in my experience they never ask the right questions or take the time to dig deep into what the individual adviser needs. Without this process it is impossible for the paraplanner to match the adviser needs with real tangible benefits.
For me to use a paraplanner I need real benefits to my business (in terms of increased turnover and profits). Saving a few hours a week typing reports is not worth paying for. It does not add real value.
Paraplanners need to stop marketing themselves as report writers. They should have far more to offer in partnering with the financial adviser and adding real value to client outcomes and my bottom line.
Richard Bishop is director at Premier Practice