Paraplanning is still a pretty new job.
I still find myself having to explain to friends and family what it is I do (no, it doesn’t involve parachutes/paragliding/parasailing).
However, even in a short space of time, the role has changed a lot, and continues to do so.
This is never more obvious than at the current time, when we're all finding that our job roles, and the way we do them, are changing out of necessity.
Paraplanners have often been seen as glorified administrators, or just report writers.
But the role is branching out more and more, and this looks set to continue.
The innovation in technology, back-office systems, and report writing software means very simple paraplanning tasks often don’t need much human input.
The value in paraplanners therefore, now and even more so in the future, is in the roles that technology cannot fulfil.
The complexity of the role has increased, and is much more multi-faceted.
This is reflected in the fact that many paraplanners hold the same qualifications as advisers, and more in some cases.
The relationship between adviser and paraplanner is becoming much more collaborative, with the paraplanner more intrinsically involved throughout the advice process.
We find many advisers like to simply have a sounding board when dealing with unusual cases; to have someone who will push back and bring new ideas to the table.
Being more involved
The advances in technology, especially during the pandemic, also mean it's much easier for paraplanners to adopt more client-facing roles.
Video calling software has been invaluable in recent months, and this can also be used to allow paraplanners to easily attend adviser meetings.
Previously, this has been the practice of some in-house paraplanners, but it's now also an option for outsourced paraplanners too.
Para-Sols has recently launched its virtual paraplanning service for this very purpose.
This brings us on to another change in the paraplanning role which is likely to become more and more important - soft skills.
As a more integral part of the advice process, and with a more client-facing role, a good paraplanner needs excellent communication and listening skills to enhance the client experience; so no hiding in our report writing caves!
The lines between adviser and paraplanner are becoming increasingly blurred, with paraplanners being more involved in the presentation of advice.
It may be in terms of running and presenting cashflow, as part of an adviser/client meeting, or presenting the suitability reports themselves.
The suitability reports that are our original bread and butter are also evolving.
As well as changes in legislation which require report content to be regularly updated, there's also the challenge of improving how client-friendly reports are.
With the amount of important information that needs to be provided to the client, striking a balance between being compliant and being easily understandable is hard.
At Para-Sols, this is something we are always striving towards, and our traditional templates are regularly updated.
However, technological advances, as well as the rise in the number of clients being tech savvy, has encouraged the creation of new interactive reports, a format which should (hopefully!) better engage the client.
Overall, I think the lines between paraplanner and planner are blurring. This likely continue to be the case as we all find our feet again in the new world.