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Paraplanning – more than research and report writing

ABR interviewed Alex Lannin, technical services manager at Francis Clark Financial Planning, about the paraplanner’s ability to not only take the strain of research and report writing off the adviser but to bring much more to the table 

ABR: Why do you think paraplanning is becoming more popular with adviser firms?

AL: There is no doubt that the use of paraplanners has been rising over the past couple of years or so. Many more adviser firms are realising the benefit of the paraplanner role and adopting paraplanning into their business structure.

Primarily, I think advisers are seeing the real benefit of having someone to do the research and the reports for them. I don’t think I’d want to be a financial adviser these days, having to go to see clients, give advice and then having to come back to the office and do the research and reports as well. It’s an awful lot of things to try to juggle and with that much pressure something at some point is going to slip. Potentially, that’s going to be the quality of the reports and ultimately, that’s going to affect the client.

If you’ve got a paraplanner doing all those tasks for you, life is going to be much easier. It means the adviser can focus on the client-facing role and that can help build the business.

ABR: Do paraplanners undertake more than research and report writing?

AL: Yes, it’s not just about the research and the report writing. The advantage of having a good paraplanner, someone who is technically competent and can think outside-of-the-box, is that they can benefit the advice process as well by having input into individual cases.

In my experience, advisers like that ability to talk things through, particularly where the cases are quite technical, and in terms of the route to take and the products, funds etc, to use.

It’s having someone else to talk to, to bounce ideas off, someone who can have informed input into the process. It can only help firms in the solution the adviser presents to the client at the end of the process.”

ABR: Should paraplanners take part in client meetings?

AL: That’s a decision individual firms will have to make. For smaller firms where the paraplanner is in the same office as the adviser then it might make sense. When you’re a company the size we are, with paraplanners strategically sited around the region, then that is not always practical or efficient.

Our paraplanners don’t sit in on client meetings. Our view is that if you have a paraplanner sat in a client meeting with an adviser that is time they could be spending writing reports and researching.

The exceptions to this is where a paraplanner is working towards being an adviser. As they get closer to doing so then they will attend meetings with the adviser for the experience. We’ve had two paraplanners in the past few years who have progressed in this way.

I think you can get a good grasp of the client’s situation by looking at the fact find and by the paraplanner regularly meeting and catching-up with the adviser, where they can discuss cases and get to know more about the client.

You can do enough without meeting the client to come up with a good solution for the client.

As technical services manager Lannin oversees a team of six paraplanners at Francis Clark Financial Planning in three strategic offices and serving 16 financial consultants spread around the south west of the country.   



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