Asendium to help grow paraplanning businesses

paraplanning paraplanner tanngo advice statement of advice Asendium

10 February 2023
| By James Mitchell |
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Financial advice technology provider Asendium believes paraplanners are the key to unlocking growth and efficiency for the Australian advice sector.

In a market saturated with technology offerings, Asendium had carved out a niche by focusing on Statement of Advice (SoA) production and driving efficiency to ultimately lower the cost of delivering advice.

Asendium firmly believed if all eligible Australians received financial advice, it would have a $630 billion impact on the economy, as referenced in the Value of Advice Report by CPA Australia. But capturing the attention of an ageing profession that had been battered by inquiries, regulatory changes, education requirements and a Royal Commission was no easy feat.

A recent survey of Australian paraplanners by Tanngo found that the average SoA took four to six hours to produce. Asendium said it can produce a fact find, strategy paper with research, and an SoA within two to four hours or a single-scope SoA in 1-2 hours, empowering the paraplanners (likely to be the one undertaking this task) to either have more time to focus on strategic requirements or quite simply be more productive in less time.

While many advisers were keen on the idea, the decision ultimately lay with their licensee. And trying to find the agent for change in a licensee could be tricky, said Asendium co-founder and chief executive officer, Scott Miller.

“Licensees are currently and will continue to be heavily focused on compliance as it is part of their obligations, and so ultimately the responsibility for producing more advice falls onto the adviser. It doesn’t matter how many SoAs an adviser writes, only that it’s compliant. This is one reason we developed our Statement of Digital Advice (SoDA) system to help licensees manage compliance more efficiently and consistently while allowing more financial planners to deliver advice more affordably,” Miller told Money Management.

“Where we are seeing significant demand is from paraplanners. Our tool is used by those who need to execute and produce SoAs. While financial planners use us, the industry also outsources that workload to a paraplanner. And paraplanners are starting to realise that we are here to empower them to create more advice documents, consistently, and in a shorter amount of time.”

Asendium was currently focused on the customisation and management of SoAs and their SoDA system allowed any licensee, financial adviser or paraplanner to upload their template into Asendium and be easily deployed, compliantly managed, and ready to be updated at short notice.

“Technology providers haven’t focused on paraplanners as a user of their technology,” Miller said.

“But it is so much easier to train a paraplanner than it is an adviser on new technology. The reason being is paraplanners traditionally use Xplan, Midwinter or AdviserLogic so often, they can pick up Asendium very easily. We’ve hardly had to do any training with them. We encourage the financial planner to focus on their biggest asset and skillset, their engagement with the client and developing the strategy to help them reach their goals”.

A paraplanner’s role varied widely from practice to practice. A good paraplanner should generate a compliant SoA ensuring the strategies and products are viable and meet the clients’ goals.

The value to advisers was a reduction in the amount of time spent on backend research and document creation as outsourcing paraplanning gave the adviser the freedom to focus on building a trusting relationship with the client. Ultimately, paraplanners should save advisers time and money.

Brittany McBean, senior paraplanner at Clique Paraplanning, said she could see paraplanning eventually becoming a profession in its own right, rather than the poor cousin of financial advice.

“We need to get the word out that this is an eligible profession. If you ask what roles are available in the industry, the answers can usually be split into an administration role and an advisory role” she said.

“Paraplanning is in the ‘Goldilocks zone’ for individuals who want to take on more responsibility than a typical administrative role, but are not wanting, for whatever reason, to have a client-facing career. A career paraplanner is best suited to someone who enjoys research and problem solving.”

For groups like Asendium, paraplanners were viewed as professionals to be championed, rather than competitors in the market.

“Paraplanners are often overlooked and not seen for the value that they bring,” Miller said.

“As technology evolves and we move to automate a lot of the manual documentation, I see paraplanners becoming strategists in helping with research, product selection and other areas of financial planning businesses,” he said.

“We are excited about partnering with more paraplanners in the future and seeing how their insights can help us develop unique offerings that suit their needs.”

 

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