- Paraplanners are generally strong supporters of technology
- Most paraplanners are not worried about their roles being replaced by automation
- As principal users, paraplanners want more influence over their firms’ tech decisions
Paraplanners are firmly of the view that technology is a net positive in their roles. Three quarters of paraplanners believe the technology they use helps them to deliver better advice to clients.
As principal users of tech systems, platform tools and software applications they experience first-hand the benefits and drawbacks of technology in all its guises. Anecdotally, paraplanners make a distinction between incredibly useful modern tech and less useful, older, clunkier tech that can involve rekeying of data. So, it’s not a surprise to see that two-thirds of paraplanners believe the tech they use can be improved. The dream state for paraplanners is seamless connectivity between systems that allows information to flow smoothly between the research, analysis, and report writing aspects of their roles.
So what technologies are paraplanners mostly using? Cashflow modelling software comes out a firm favourite, described by several paraplanners as transformational in helping clients to visually understand the impact of withdrawals and market corrections on their pension pots. This is followed by the use of pension and investment research tools (67%), risk profiling (51%), and platform tools (40%).
While much is made in the media of robots and automation displacing certain roles, it’s interesting that paraplanners don’t fear technology – only 15% fear the negative impact of tech threats like robo-advice and report automation. Paraplanners generally see technologies disrupting specific activities within their role rather than their entire roles – a compliance suitability report could be automated to a degree but even that would require a qualitative check.
As paraplanners have moved from a historically more dominant focus on report writing, they have added a range of interpretative analysis and research activities that are more difficult to automate. These require not just a fundamental understanding of financial planning but also a human touch in the way that they make complex financial ideas accessible to clients.
Looking at the same issue from another angle, 66% believe new developments in financial planning will help deliver better advice, with 30% unsure and only 5% believing it will lead to worse advice. As regular users, the majority of paraplanners (89%) want to be more involved in decision-making about new technologies, with only around half of respondents having some influence at present. However, they do not always feel they are up to speed with latest developments, signalling there is a need for technology providers to engage more with paraplanners about how the latest platform tools and software can help them.
Most paraplanners work with 2 or 3 platforms on a regular basis (although a sizeable 35% use 4 or more platforms). Nearly three quarters of those who have contact with platforms are satisfied with the way platform providers engage with them. What are the key criteria they judge platforms on? There is a wide range of factors to consider, but paraplanners believe the speed of response to enquiries and the technical know-how of support staff are the most important factors in the platform service funnel.
“Paraplanners are significant and frequent users of platforms, so platform providers must be relentless in finding out what matters most to them. By engaging regularly with paraplanners and seeking closed-loop feedback that can inform the technology roadmap, platform providers can invest in the areas that count.
For our part, we are investing heavily in platform technology, service capability and UX, areas which align closely with the priorities paraplanners are feeding back to us through our regular channels and reporting in this survey.”
CEO, Embark Platform
As part of our Paraplanner survey report, watch part 3 where we look at the use of technology by paraplanners. Key points: