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Embark survey reveals paraplanner profession in rude health

Our latest survey takes the pulse of professional paraplanners and the diagnosis is very positive. Paraplanners are in great heart, confident about the future of paraplanning and its value within financial planning, thanks to growing influence across adviser firms combined with greater levels of recognition for the work that they do.

Here, we reveal the four key insights from our survey relating to paraplanner confidence, adviser relationships, use of technology and some interesting gender gaps.

The confident paraplanner

Paraplanners are in a good place. 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. The optimism of paraplanners 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.  Find out more about this theme

A strong partner to advisers

Paraplanners are reporting strong alliances with their advisers. 87% of paraplanners rate their current adviser relationships as either good or excellent. Strong relationships are also laying the groundwork for debate, since an impressive 9 out of 10 paraplanners feel confident enough to challenge an adviser’s recommendation.

The vast majority of paraplanners (88%) feel that their firms value paraplanning more highly now than in the past. The reasons are clear: paraplanners are making greater contributions in a range of adviser support activities. They feel they add most value on report writing (61%), adviser support (53%), technical analysis (46%) and advice recommendations (42%). But, they also feel they have more to offer, especially on technology decision-making (35%), technical analysis (31%), and advice (31%).

Paraplanners see technology as an enabler not a threat

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. 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. Find out more

The gender gap in paraplanning

There was a notable gap 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. Considering that 45% of women but only 35% of men want their firms to hire more paraplanners, 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 not overworked. More on this theme

“It has been fascinating and gratifying to witness first-hand the rise of the paraplanner. It’s not just a story of paraplanners wanting to take on more – adviser firms, for their part, have embraced their paraplanners and encouraged them to contribute in areas like research, analysis and advice. This has allowed advisers and business owners to focus their efforts on meeting clients, growing assets, and running their businesses.”

Ranila Ravi-Burslem, Intermediary Distribution Director, Embark Group

Find out more – listen to the podcast & webinar and download the full report:

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