Although adviser numbers have been falling since the launch of the RDR, paraplanner numbers have increased, encouraging the launch of new learning and support services for the profession.
The Personal Finance Society Members Survey 2012 revealed that paraplanner numbers have grown in line with the organisation’s general membership, increasing from 1,644 paraplanners in 2010 to 2,310 in 2012. But the PFS says it expects to see paraplanner numbers start to increase at a faster rate over the next few years.
On the back of this, the PFS is launching a programme of new initiatives for paraplanners, which includes the launch of two paraplanning conferences in partnership with 7IM and Legal & General, due to take place in June and July this year.
The conferences are full-day events focused on developing specialist knowledge and paraplanning skills in the form of workshops and case studies.
PFS chief executive officer Keith Richards (pictured) says: “Paraplanning is a growing profession in the financial planning community. There are an increasing number of professional advisers utilising the service of paraplanners, which helps free up more of their own time to spend in front of clients helping to increase both efficiency and profitability leading to better consumer outcomes.”
The Institute of Financial Planning has been active in the development of paraplanning for some time and has been running its conferences for paraplanners for several years. Communications director Sue Whitbread also believes we will see significant growth in the numbers of paraplanners.
She says: “What is important for the adviser is that they have to spend as much time as possible with the client. To maximise that, what they need is some support behind the scenes to make sure all the background work is carried out to the required level.
“We think in fullness of time that there may even be advisers and planners that become paraplanners and we have seen that in the past. The new RDR regime means that if a business is going to survive then it has to rethink the way it deals with the service. A part of that will be the segmentation of roles to make sure people are clearly delivering on a particular area.”
The growth of services for paraplanners has not been confined to the big trade bodies.
Earlier this year, Panacea Adviser, an online community and resource service for advisers, also launched a dedicated paraplanner section for its site called the Paraplanning Zone. The zone is aimed at providing advice and resources to the paraplanning community, as well as forums where paraplanners can liaise with the adviser community.
Panacea Adviser chief executive officer Derek Bradley believes paraplanners are vital to the industry in a new RDR world, particularly in smaller firms. He says:“If it wasn’t for paraplanners in this ever-complicated regulatory world, clients could not be so well served. Although larger adviser firms see huge value in paraplanners and often employ their own, many smaller adviser firms may not fully appreciate that engaging with the paraplanning community presents a huge time saving opportunity to embrace yet is a vital, yet often confusing part of the business to resource.”