10 years ago, when I started my business, we paraplanners would speak to advisers who didn’t see the need for us, whether in-house or outsourced.

    We would find ourselves explaining that, if you pass your research, analysis and report writing to a specialist (because that’s exactly what we are!) you’ll free up your time to see clients – which is what most advisers want to be doing with their time, right? It’s win / win.  

    The paraplanner will usually do the paraplanning to a higher standard than an adviser, whose skills lie elsewhere. That’s not a criticism, we just do better with different parts of the process based on our skill sets.  

    But setting out your stall as a paraplanner 10+ years ago was still essentially a sales pitch, with a few forward-thinking advisers who ‘got it’. Over time, the niche role of the paraplanner has become a trend, and we’ve never looked back.

    How much things change in a decade!

    These days there’s a shortage of good paraplanners and there are very few advisers out there who don’t appreciate the value a decent paraplanner can add to their business. Many employed paraplanners have quit their jobs to set up outsourced paraplanning firms. And any outsourced paraplanner who’s any good at their role is more than likely fully booked. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to find good people. 

    So, if you’re looking for paraplanning support, where do you start?  

    If you’re looking to recruit in-house, you’ll likely need a specialist recruitment firm to place some suitable candidates in front of you. There are many generalist firms out there, but using them runs the risk of being presented with candidates who don’t fit your business. The specialist firms are great at digging down into the detail of your needs and finding the right type of paraplanner for your firm, not just in terms of skills, knowledge and experience, but also cultural fit.

    Using a recruitment firm is expensive; it’s not something you want to repeat, so it’s worth working with a specialist recruiter (and never shy away from asking for a fee rebate if the person you hire turns out to be the wrong person for the firm). 

    If you’re struggling to find the person to fill that vacancy, or if you don’t want or need a permanent member of staff (and all the costs involved), then outsourcing is an option. There’s less risk involved, because if you select a firm and decide they’re not right for you, you can simply switch to a different paraplanning provider. But having to switch is frustrating at best, and potentially time consuming (and therefore expensive). 

    Arguably, selecting the right outsourced paraplanner for you is complicated

    We don’t all do the same things, and we don’t all do things in the same way. We have different areas of knowledge and expertise, and different views on how things should be done. There are so many options, it’s difficult to know where to start. There are some directories out there that will summarise details of a number of firms and this might help narrow the field, but it’s still hard to really gauge what you’re going to get.  

    Over the course of my next few articles, I’m going to dig down into the points to consider, such as what a paraplanner can do for you, how to undertake due diligence on the firm you want to engage, and what you can expect from them. Hopefully this will help you to find the right paraplanning firm for your needs and it might be the start of a beautiful relationship, which works for all involved.  

    Unlike in the early days of paraplanning, there’s no longer a need to explain or justify working alongside a paraplanner. The paraplanner and adviser are working as a team, looking for the same thing – the best outcome for the client. 

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