Human finger touching a virtual circuit board creating a digital reaction of blue and orange technology waves

The Connected Paraplanner

Ranila Ravi-Burslem
Ranila Ravi-Burslem
Intermediary Distribution Director, Scottish Widows

Welcome to the Scottish Widows Paraplanner Survey, a temperature check on the health of the paraplanning profession and an insight into the increasingly crucial role that paraplanners play within the advice value chain.

Our survey of over 400 paraplanners reveals how they feel about: their role; their relationships with advisers; their use of technology; the challenges and opportunities within the industry; and their aspirations for the future state of paraplanning.

Indeed, it is those technology aspirations– and the strength of their adviser relationships – that inspires our title, ‘The Connected Paraplanner’. Paraplanners are reporting that many back-office systems remain unintegrated with calculations still carried out off platform, which carries a risk of data errors from the re-keying of information. It is clear they want to sit at the heart of a more seamless, integrated adviser back office. One where connectivity brings disparate solutions together into an end-to-end system that can power both full and hybrid advice journeys.

In the last decade, paraplanning has moved from being an administrative black box to the academic face and technical engine of financial advice. It is now rightfully viewed as a distinct profession rather than a stepping-stone to becoming a financial adviser. The role is only slightly tilted towards women – who make up 55% of our survey respondents, with an average age of 41.

Demand for financial advice is growing and technology, including artificial intelligence, offers huge promise in closing the advice gap. Our results on AI are particularly interesting: it is seen as both an opportunity and a threat – a reflection perhaps of the fact that we are still at an early stage of development, with dedicated AI financial planning tools still to be developed.

At Scottish Widows, we are listening carefully to the aspirations of paraplanners as we build out our platform development roadmap. We are putting the principles of seamless integration and connectivity at the heart of our platform innovation plans as we look to deliver on our ambition of being the easiest adviser platform provider with which to do business.

It is clear (paraplanners) want to sit at the heart of a more seamless, integrated adviser back office.