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Embark Paraplanner Survey Report

The Gender Gap

  1. Female paraplanners are more likely to be looking for a pay review
  2. Men are more likely to offer advisers views on advice
  3. Male paraplanners are also more interested in moving into the adviser role

The typical paraplanner is a 39-year-old female. This is a useful archetype to draw comparisons versus the average adviser, who is a male in his mid-50s. Yet, averages are averages – paraplanners are only slightly more likely to be female (54%) and have a wide range of ages and commensurate experience. And, before we point out the interesting gender gaps in the survey, one point is worth making. There was a reassuring amount of commonality in the responses between genders to most questions – here we discuss only the notable gaps.

The first important gap we highlight is in how the response varied between men and women to the question of how firms could be more supportive of their role. Overall, 62% of paraplanners wanted a pay review and 41% said their firm could employ more paraplanners. However, there was a marked difference in how men and women answered. Significantly more women (69%) than men (50%) wanted a pay review, indicating that the gender pay gap remains an important issue in paraplanning, as it does in many other areas. When we also consider that 45% of women but only 35% of men want their firms to hire more paraplanners, however, a picture starts to emerge that men are perhaps more confident in not only asking for pay rises but also in making sure they are supported and not overworked.

The second area in which there was a noticeable gender difference was in the areas in which male and female paraplanners feel they add the most value. While 42% of paraplanners believe they offer value on advice recommendations, for men it was a sizeable 51% but for women it was only 35%. So, again, it seems that men appear to be more confident to offer advisers their views on advice. It’s a tricky issue to unpick, but the reasons may at least partly be rooted in society as a whole, with many academic studies indicating that men tend to be more confident in their abilities and more likely to be self-promoters than women.

Lastly, we can look back to the strong survey result in those respondents who see paraplanning as a career; the overall percentage of those who did was 85%. However, the gender splits reveal an interesting divergence in those who saw it as a steppingstone to becoming an adviser. Of the 13% who saw it this way, only 8% were women but 20% were men. So, 1 in 5 men still see paraplanning as offering a route to advising but less than 1 in 10 women.

While significant progress has been made across the financial sector, the battle for equal pay and conditions for women is far from over. The fact that significantly more female than male paraplanners are looking for a pay review indicates that there is more to be done. This is despite the fact that female paraplanners are actually more loyal to their adviser firms, with women less interested in becoming an adviser than male paraplanners and less likely to consider moving firms in the next 12 months. If men really are more confident about promoting their strengths in the workplace, then it’s also a cop out to say female paraplanners just need to be more assertive as there may be reasons why they feel uncomfortable doing so. Rather, the onus needs to be on the employer, so some firms may need to be more proactive in reviewing compensation regularly against industry benchmarks to ensure that women are paid the same as men doing similar roles.

Jackie Leiper
CEO, Embark Group

The gender gap in paraplanning

As part of our Paraplanner survey report, watch part 4 where we look at the gender gap in paraplanning. Key points:

  • Female paraplanners are more likely to be looking for a pay review
  • Men are more likely to offer advisers views on advice
  • Male paraplanners are also more interested in moving into the adviser role

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