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A paraplanner is a financial services professional who researches, recommends and implements detailed investment plans for clients. He usually reports directly to one or two financial planners. This position is commonly found at banks or investment and financial services companies.
It is generally believed that this position was originally created to relieve financial planners of some of the administrative task burdens of their jobs. A paraplanner used to be little more than a clerk who collated papers and verified facts and figures for his superior, a financial planner. His expertise regarding finances and investments was rarely utilized.
As financial planners became more popular, the bulk of their time was generally spent meeting with clients to determine their general short and long-term goals and developing appropriate strategies. Many started to rely on paraplanners to intercede at this point to help the client make specific financial choices. This delegation freed up the financial planners’ schedules to move on to new clients in need of general guidance.
Investment clients traditionally have their initial meetings with a financial planner who assesses their financial needs and risk acceptance levels and recommends general investment routes. Once these parameters are in place, a paraplanner normally suggests specific funds and investment plans. If the proposed investment plans are acceptable to the client, the financial planner typically turns the client over to the paraplanner, who makes the purchases.
From that point forward, the paraplanner commonly keeps a close eye on the portfolio and answers the client’s questions on an ongoing basis. If the client desires changes to investments, he normally makes those adjustments. An experienced person in this position ordinarily makes financial and investment suggestions to the client independent of the financial planner.
A paraplanner normally sets up a schedule with each of his clients to review portfolios and discuss market trends. These appointments are commonly set at six-month intervals. If a client needs guidance or information in the interim, the paraplanner or financial planner is generally available to provide assistance.
Success in paraplanning usually requires excellent research and analysis skills. The paraplanner is typically expected to be a great communicator, both written and orally. Since he is normally in charge of highly personal client information, integrity is generally considered a strong asset for people with this job.
A bachelor’s degree in financial services, accounting or business administration is frequently required to apply for this job. A minimum of two years work experience in a financial services or banking atmosphere is generally preferred. Continuing education and investment service certifications are normally recommended for paraplanners who aspire to positions as financial planners.
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