Why paraplanning is not just about report writing.
Back in the early days of my career, I was provided with a laptop (cutting edge in the early 1990’s) which was used to fact find, obtain quotes off the exchange and write my own reports. Back then I had no idea that I was actually doing my own ‘paraplanning’, it was just part of the adviser role.
That all changed when I joined the financial planning team of the accountants PwC (or Coopers & Lybrand as it was when I joined). For them, like the accountants, there were clear client-facing and technical roles. As a financial planner, I needed to engage with clients, obtained by persuading partners that they should allow me access to their clients. It was therefore assumed that spending time sat a desk doing research and writing reports would get in the way of me earning important fee income. I was therefore allocated a paraplanner! 20 years ago In 1999! A technically competent and qualified one too, who just had no desire to be client-facing!
What a revelation, suddenly I could focus on the client in a meeting, not spend time scribbling down copious notes or try and ensure I completed a fact find. I was able to spend time with my paraplanner discussing the planning opportunities and add value by personalising the reports that had been drafted on my behalf.
From that day on until I finally stepped away from an advisory role in 2015 I was never without a paraplanner again. Many advisers, even recently, are still of the mindset that paraplanning is a junior role with the main duties being to prepare their reports and obtain illustrations. I agree it is possible to train an intelligent person to undertake these tasks quite quickly, but it is not paraplanning. Paraplanning is about the desk-based activities that are essential for providing and evidencing suitable financial advice.
I believe a paraplanner should be technically able to be a financial planner if they so wish (indeed many use it as stepping stone already) but the path to becoming a client-facing planner should not be assumed. That is why I believe that is why paraplanning is not just about report writing..
To conclude I believe the evidence is overwhelming, that a financial planner and the right paraplanner is a partnership that improves client outcomes and productivity significantly.