Why should highly qualified IFAs do large amounts of administration when most would prefer to be client-facing? Surely, clients expect advisers to advise, not to do admin.
To my mind, what allows them to do that is the prudent deployment of paraplanners and administrators. Add the adviser to the mix and you have the holy trinity for a cost-effective, client-centred model: a small, well balanced financial planning team consisting of a consultant, paraplanner and sales administrator.
As with all successful teams, each member brings individual strengths and skills and has a clearly defined role which they are encouraged to perform to the best of their ability.
The paraplanner invariably has some client contact but the primary focus is on researching existing contracts and funds. Working closely with the consultant, paraplanners produce a tailored suite of recommendations that, when pulled together, form the bulk of the financial plan.
Pivotal throughout the process is the administrator, who not only provides all the facts needed by the other team members but is also responsible for ensuring recommendations are accurately transacted and that clients are kept up to speed.
This arrangement allows each member of the team to be involved in the entire financial planning process, providing them with a more fulfilling role but also an obvious career structure – something clearly lacking in our profession.
Sales administrators wishing to become paraplanners, for example, gain valuable experience in dealing with clients and are able to observe the advice process up close. They are then better able to assess whether a change in role is something they wish to pursue. Importantly, it becomes easy to identify suitable candidates for further development.
I was so convinced of the benefits of this structure that I modelled my own business around it long ago and have never looked back. It continues to amaze me more advisers have not done the same.
So my spirits were buoyed when the IFP confirmed it was finalising exams for a QCA level-4 paraplanning qualification for launch by the end of this year. Not only will this encourage more IFAs to use paraplanners but it should also ensure a steady flow of new blood into the industry.
We often talk about wanting parity in professional terms with lawyers and accountants, and this should go some way to help achieve that.
Sheriar Bradbury is managing director of Bradbury Hamilton