Paraplanners – discovering the quiet achievers

Recruiting paraplanners is not easy because most have a low profile in the industry, Financial Recruitment Group managing director Judith Beck admits.

“Paraplanners are in big demand, but it is difficult to find good ones,” she says.

“They have to be headhunted as they don’t answer advertisements, but the search process is harder as they are invisible.

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“Paraplanners are hidden beneath the financial planning scene, so the search has to become more intensive.”

Beck says paraplanners normally work at the role for two years and then start searching for alternative opportunities.

Usually, they are recruited by the banks and other big institutions. However, they perceive the real opportunities lie outside these structures.

“Some are loyal and stay with the institution, progressing to becoming an adviser, but most make the move to boutique planning firms, as that is where they see the opportunities,” she says.

“They will not make a sideways move within an organisation as they are looking for a long-term career.”

AXA national manager, dealer groups, Andrew Waddell says paraplanning is seen as a transition role to becoming an adviser.

“I think paraplanner skills should be more revered and the transitional role reversed,” he says.

“It is costly to keep looking for paraplanners.

“We have a paraplanning unit with between eight and 10 paraplanners, but we can lose two a year as they go to practices as planners or to another profession.”

Waddell believes if paraplanning was a separate career it could open up opportunities for a variety of recruits who may not want to work as advisers.

“When you have an opportunity to make paraplanning a flexible workplace, that could attract part-time workers,” he says.

“That is good for somebody, such as an adviser who went off to have a family, who is looking to come back into the industry but doesn’t want to work full-time.”

Waddell says the industry needs to understand what drives paraplanners and what opportunities they are looking for to slow the constant turnover in this segment of financial services.

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