When we take a job brief from a new client, what are the top 3 essential skills and the top 3 ‘nice to haves’ advice firms are looking for?
Lewis Byford writes regularly for Professional Paraplanner and contributes to their online publications frequently! Read more from them here.
Top 3 Essential Skills (must haves)
Diploma in Financial Planning is the number 1 essential skill (or qualification) ;
This is a conversation I have with some candidates who have over 10 years’ paraplanning experience but do not hold the diploma. From an financial planning business’s perspective, when they are up against a candidate who does have the Diploma, they never get past the first stage. 9/10 Paraplanners must hold the diploma to be considered for an interview.
Producing quality reports with a high attention to detail:
Now I know most people will say they have a high attention to detail, but can you prove it? A lot of advice firms have put together very technically detailed tests to show an individual’s attention to detail. We then move on to the quality of the Paraplanner’s report writing, many advice firms use templates; however, a Paraplanner’s creativity is needed to extract the important information to satisfy compliance and to write the report a client can understand. That’s the real skill.
Complexity and diversity of cases:
This comes up in our client briefs, do they have the exposure to a wide variety of cases, know we do understand this isn’t easy, if your current employer doesn’t work in specific areas. Is there someone in the office that you look up too? Is there someone who is working on more complex cases? Can you get some time with them? If you voice that you would like to learn and develop you will be surprised at the response, most people love to help others. It’s the ones who actively voice they want to learn who take in the most information.
Top 3 Desirable
DB Transfer Experience:
The DB qualification and exposure is number one on my Top 3 desirable skills. Even though you will hear in the news and press articles that firms are no longer holding permissions for the DB transfers, firms still want to have the skills in-house to review cases.
Taking ownership of the reports and challenging the proposed advice:
Some advice firms are putting more responsibility on the Paraplanner, enabling them to have a voice in the advice process. The Paraplanner has access to all the information available, has the fact-find and soft and hard facts to hand and should understand what the client’s requirements and objectives are. Advice firms want them to take a third-party view of the information and take appropriate steps. Is the current proposed advice path the correct one to take once the Paraplanner has carried out all the research? Paraplanners sometimes forget that they are not just collecting information; they are highly skilled at looking at the data and need to do what is suitable for their client’s circumstances and objectives.
Cashflow modelling experience:
This is also a very hot topic; more and more firms are now using cashflow modelling as part of their essential advice process. It is a fantastic tool that visually shows the client’s shortfalls. A Paraplanner who has this experience is always of interest to clients. Particularly a Paraplanner who has studied the software like Voyant, we work with some clients who will introduce the Paraplanner to go through the cash flow forecast when holding client meetings, and if you have done this before, fantastic!
When sitting down and writing this, It was challenging to think about the top 3 of both, as everything is very important. Still, I tried to think about what is most valuable to clients and when we go through the interview process the feedback from clients about a individual’s experience. If you have any thoughts around this or have any questions, I would love to hear from you.
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