Paraplanning in 2022

Despite the shifting landscape, paraplanning is not a dead profession. If we've learnt anything from our research, paraplanning is quite resilient.

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The path to paraplanning is different for everyone

Paraplanning always has been and continues to be, a lucrative career. If you work in client services, it can be the next step on your career ladder, and if you are an associate adviser, paraplanning provides you with a well-rounded set of skills to become an adviser.

For some, paraplanning is a career. It sits nicely between the administration and advising and provides a space for you to be analytical and hands-on, minus the client interaction. It’s also a great middle ground if you want to test the waters before moving into advising.

As we’ve also learned, being a paraplanner is rarely a conscious decision. Few paraplanners who contributed to this article actively chose it as their first career choice. Every person “ended up in paraplanning” via one of the following ways:

  • Started in administration, and:
    • was promoted into a paraplanning position thanks to a manager, or
    • actively chose to progress from administration and into paraplanning to advance their career and skills:
      • in their existing place of employment, or
      • at a new place of employment.
  • Chose financial planning as the end goal and worked as a paraplanner to gain the necessary experience on their path to being an adviser.
  • Moved into paraplanning from an entirely different profession due to transferrable skills and attributes.

So, what does it take to be a paraplanner?

It’s always been an attractive role because you don’t necessarily need qualifications to start the work. 80% of our surveyed paraplanners agree that half of the job is understanding financial planning software. However, the remaining half of the job is theoretical, and while it’s not essential, obtaining a qualification will undoubtedly increase your skill base and job opportunities.

Financial planning qualifications have become the standard when recruiting a paraplanner and this has even prompted many universities to create diplomas specifically for this profession. We did some research via Seek, which brought up just over 250 results when we filtered the search by ‘paraplanner’. Not only did the majority of advertised roles require the suitable candidate to at least have a graduate diploma in financial planning, but many were also entirely hybrid in nature.

Paraplanning statistics for 2022. Image showing that 50% of paraplanners employed in 2022 work remotely. 50% are employed as contractors. Jobs currently advertised on Seek show that only around 20% of paraplanner jobs are advertised purely as paraplanner and the remainder are advertised as hybrid roles involving client services officer responsibilities, and associate adviser responsibilities.
Paraplanning in 2022

Of the roles advertised under ‘paraplanner’, only 20% were purely paraplanning. Around 22% are promoted as “Paraplanner/Associate Adviser” and 60% as “Client Services Officer/Paraplanner”.

Outsourcing your paraplanning is becoming an increasing trend as more financial planning practices look to streamline their processes and maintain profitability. And for those choosing not to outsource, there appears to be a push toward hybrid roles that ensure a cost-effective form of ‘business as usual’.

This is important when considering moving into paraplanning and what you want to do daily. If you’re looking to be a career paraplanner in a financial planning practice, the job market appears to be very competitive these days. But if you’re happy with a hybrid role, the employment pool is much broader and deeper.

If you’d instead work remotely, an outsourcing company might be a better option for you. If you are recruited as a paraplanner, it is unlikely that you’ll be asked to moonlight as a Client Services Offer as well. But if you’re looking to do something out of the scope of your role, then your employment pool may be smaller and shallower.

Contractor or employee?

Another consideration is job security. 50% of our surveyed paraplanners will continue to work as contractors for as long as possible because it provides geographic flexibility, which is an increasing trend.

Contractor paraplanners have also listed the following benefits:
“The onboarding process tends to be much quicker.”
“Ability to build extensive networks and increase my job prospects.”
“Higher pay rate.”

The biggest concern is uncertainty and negative financial impact if their contract is terminated. There is always a risk that your next contract isn’t around the corner, and you may be left without an income.

Paraplanners who are employees of a business remarked that “being part of a team”, “job stability”, and “access to leave entitlements” is why they avoid contract work. However, while our contractor paraplanners worked remotely, the employer paraplanners were required to be in the office for at least some of the week. For two of our interviewees, this was an incentive to consider moving to contract paraplanning instead.

How do paraplanners feel about the Quality of Advice Review proposals?

When it comes to the Quality of Advice Review’s proposal to scrap Statements of Advice, there appears to be a sense of relief for many. Removing some red tape means paraplanners can focus on producing sound strategies and easy-to-understand documents. Some are concerned that their paraplanning roles will become entirely different, but the vast majority look forward to working with their advisers in a whole new way.

Despite the shifting landscape, paraplanning is not a dead profession. If we’ve learned anything from our research, paraplanning is quite resilient. It has evolved from the traditional 9 to 5 office role that limited many people into an inclusive profession with flexibility and choice. And we can’t wait to see what it looks like in another ten years.

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