- Paraplanners are confident about the future
- They are enjoying a strong sense of identity
- Paraplanner confidence reads across to client satisfaction but mind the gap with advisers
Paraplanners are in a good place. They are reporting impressive confidence levels in their role and its value within financial planning, thanks to growing professional influence across adviser firms combined with greater levels of recognition for the work that they do.
A landslide 93% of paraplanners are confident to some degree about the future of paraplanning while 88% are confident about the future of the broader advice market. This optimistic view on their profession and their industry is reflected in a strong sense of stability in their position, with 82% also confident in their own future in paraplanning.
Confidence is one of most revealing status checks in any survey, since it is typically the outcome of strong results or improvements in a range of other measures. And that is certainly what we see in this survey. First off, paraplanner optimism is rooted in a greater sense of identity, with 85% of respondents seeing paraplanning as a career in its own right; a convincing result that should remove lingering doubts over the standalone value of the paraplanner role.
Indeed, this greater comfort with the career status of the role is backed up by a strong commitment to existing firms with less than 10% of respondents interested in moving jobs in the next 12 months.
We can also look to the Embark Investor Confidence Barometer (Q1, 2022) to tease out further important drivers behind Paraplanner confidence. Advised clients reported very high levels of satisfaction, with 85% satisfied with the advice they received over the last 12 months. High satisfaction scores were also recorded for ‘ability to understand my needs’ (86%), ‘communications received’ (84%) and ‘investment recommendations’ (81%). It is not difficult to see how contented clients would translate to confident and happy paraplanners. Indeed, this is something of a virtuous circle, with the greater involvement paraplanners are having in the advice process enabling a stronger sense of contribution to positive client results, and hence greater confidence about their role and its value.
When it comes to confidence, there is an interesting divergence to note between paraplanners and advisers. The Embark Investor Confidence Barometer revealed a relatively marked drop in confidence among advisers. Only 69% of advisers were confident in the future of the advice market – a significant fall from 81% in the previous survey in 2021 and a notable gap to the 88% of paraplanners who are confident about the future of advice.
What could account for this? Well, it could reflect justifiably greater concerns among advisers than paraplanners over growing costs and competitive threats. The ability to charge enough to cover rising technology, regulatory and labour costs (including paraplanners), while margins are pressured from robo-advice and self-serve investing models, remains a front-of-mind issue for advisers against a general backdrop of price inflation and slowing growth in the UK. Interestingly, the dip in adviser confidence was also coincident with an initial pullback in stock market performance so it could reflect a greater sense among advisers that we have had some outsized investment returns in recent years and a more even-handed outlook might now be warranted. If so, recent performance in the stock market would certainly vindicate the more cautious view of advisers.
“It’s great to see paraplanners report such strong engagement and confidence levels. Confidence can also be a function of age, of course. And with an average age of 39 – compared to a financial adviser in their mid-50s – paraplanners may be justifiably more confident in certain areas – for example, in dealing with younger demographics. This could be a particularly important asset when it comes to intergenerational planning. Their ability to connect and empathise with the younger, similarly aged, beneficiaries of an estate when it comes to inheritance tax planning, for example, could help build relationship in areas where some advisers might find it more difficult to bridge the demographic divide.”
Intermediary Distribution Director, Embark Group
As part of our Paraplanner survey report, watch part 1 where we look at paraplanner confidence. Key points: