There are two very distinct answers here. Inside the industry, paraplanners are certainly seen as the cog that keeps the machine going. Anyone working in financial services, from financial planners to the admin team, can see how vital paraplanners are. It’s difficult to miss the value they add. Ten years ago, those same people might have described paraplanners as report writers, but now they’re generally seen as crucial in ensuring we get the right outcomes for clients.
Outside of the industry, however, it’s a very different story. When I first started out and I’d tell my friends I was a paraplanner, they would universally respond with ‘what’s that then?’ I would end up asking if they’d ever watched the TV show ‘Suits’. I’d tell them I was basically Megan Markle in that show, but for financial advisers. We’re the ones that do all the groundwork and get all the information advisers need in order to present to, and advise, clients. I still have to explain the role now.
There was a stat in last year’s Embark Paraplanner Survey Report that said 88% of paraplanners agreed that they got the right amount of recognition from their advisers, but only 29% of them felt that they got the same recognition from clients. ¹ So people outside the industry still don’t understand the role.
I think that has a major impact on the recruitment of paraplanners. There isn’t a firm out there that’s overstaffed in the paraplanning department. There’s a lot of pressure and responsibility that comes with the job and if you’re not being recognised and appreciated outside the industry, this can lead potential paraplanners to look elsewhere.