Paraplanning is not just a report writing service. The best paraplanners provide specialist regulatory, technical and legislative advice and analysis to advisers. They play a pivotal role in the analysis and development of appropriate client solutions, giving advisers the opportunity and freedom to increase the time spent with clients. That’s exactly what Nadine and her team at NK Consultants delivers.
Paraplanning in the Australian and UK markets is established, respected and well received by advisers. Advice firms using paraplanners tend to know their clients and understand their client segmentation. This is because not all client types require paraplanner specialisation, but it is important to identify those clients that do, and ensure that they continually receive the correct level of technical input. I have worked with many inhouse and external paraplanning teams in Australia and have seen the growth of this profession over the last decade. This evolution has seen advisers access dedicated and specialist skills, providing more time to build and enhance client relationships. And paraplanners today are often highly qualified.
If we look back 15 or 20 years, there was no real paraplanner function. With the exception of application processing, advisers tended to complete each stage of the advice process themselves. This feels like a world away from the industry norm today. It is now not uncommon to see one paraplanner to every two to three advisers, in addition to an office administrator and a Client Service Manager. Clearly, this is a team of people working together for client deliveries and outcomes. The challenge with any team has always been ensuring all members are operating to the same high standards, have the right tools and skills, and deliver consistently high results in a timely manner. The adviser and paraplanner team relationship is no different, and this is where technology plays a key role. Today’s technology delivers an integrated solution that delegates work between team members, delivers the right advice tools to the right people and generates high quality, consistent and personalised advice for the client.
At IRESS, our teams regularly meet with paraplanners and advisers and it is clear that the greatest efficiency gains can be made through the use of integrated technology to bridge the process gap between the adviser and paraplanner. Research and quote data can be provided to the adviser at the touch of a button and cloud-based devices enable teams to instantly share and automate work regardless of location. Having mobile technology at the adviser’s fingertips allows them to gather client information at a meeting and coordinate this with the paraplanning or administration teams at the office before the adviser returns there physically. The advice process delegates tasks amongst the team and throughout the adviser journey there is transparency, control and consistency, ensuring that the client receives high quality consistent advice and service. Holistic cashflow strategies prepared by the paraplanner, and presented by the adviser via digital means is today’s reality.
As financial services firms continually strive to optimise the overall client experience with improved operating efficiency, the role of the paraplanner is increasingly central to how advice businesses operate. Technology is crucial in ensuring seamless interactions between the client and the advice team, stamping out inefficiency in business models and supporting the evolution of adviser businesses today.
Having recently attended the Institute of Financial Planning’s (IFP) Paraplanner Conference, it is evident that the paraplanning sector is on the rise, and it is a good thing for the industry, and most importantly, the client.
Johann Koch – Head of Business Development (IRESS)
*Source: NMG Paraplanner Report 2013