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Career Transitions: From Paraplanner to Financial Adviser

The role of a paraplanner has undergone a significant transformation, evolving into a distinct career path of its own and serving as an ideal stepping stone for those aspiring to become successful financial advisers. 

While the two roles often overlap, in recent years, following a push for professionalisation and industry regulation, the roles have become more distinguishable. Paraplanners are primarily responsible for handling more of the administrative heavy tasks, while financial advisers take on more client-facing duties and focus more on relationship building. 

In this blog, we explore how you can transition from a career as a paraplanner to a financial adviser, focusing on the skills and qualifications that can help you get there. 

Understanding the Difference: Paraplanners vs. Financial Advisers 

Before deciding to go ahead with your career transition, it’s vital to identify and understand the ins and outs of each role, along with the tasks and responsibilities it comes hand-in-hand with. While both roles are essential elements of a successful financial planning team, there are some core differences between the two roles’ day-to-day tasks.

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What is a paraplanner?

Firstly, paraplanners are essentially financial experts who work closely with and assist financial planners and advisers with their daily tasks, freeing up time for them to help clients individually and deliver the highest quality customer service. 

Their duties tend to be more clerical and administrative, and while they may not interact with clients regularly, they play a crucial role in indirectly supporting clients through:

  • Performing essential research, 
  • Preparing client reports, and 
  • Undertaking financial analysis.

Similarly to the support paralegals offer practising lawyers, paraplanners offer support to financial advisers. They’re essential in ensuring the long-term success of financial advice organisations. To put it bluntly, financial advisers simply don’t have enough hours in their day to research, analyse and write a report, all while having regular meetings with clients. This would seriously affect the quality of service clients receive and impact the overall success of the business. 

What is a financial adviser? 

A financial adviser, on the other hand, is a finance expert that provides you with management tips and advice related to your financial goals. Whether that’s managing your retirement savings, assessing risk tolerance, or offering investment advice, financial advisers refine your financial objectives to help you stay on track and manage your portfolio successfully. Similar to how you would hire an architect to create a plan of your dream house, based on your desires and ambitions, a financial adviser is there to help you create a plan for your finances. This means that it’s vital that they understand every aspect of your financial health, to offer you the most accurate advice.

As a result, much of their day is spent conversing with clients to gain a better idea of their circumstances and what they can do to help. Factors considered include:

  • Current income
  • Spending and saving habits
  • Mandatory expenses
  • Financial vulnerability
  • Risk appetite
  • Financial fears, and
  • Aspirations for the future.
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So, what are the key differences? 

As discussed, the majority of paraplanners’ tasks can be of an administrative nature and they’re usually responsible for doing the “behind-the-scenes” work. Contrastingly, financial advisers are the representatives of financial planning projects, responsible for giving advice and making recommendations. They are in charge of presenting plans for approval, communicating with clients and managing the finance team, which paraplanners are part of. 

However, it’s important to keep in mind that while some of the tasks and responsibilities may vary from industry to industry as they pertain to paraplanners and financial advisers, the skills required to be either tend to overlap.

Skills for the Transition 

Paraplanners and financial advisers actually share several common skills that make a career transition between the two much easier and smoother. 

  1. Analytical Thinking and Research: They’re crucial parts for both of these roles. With new products continuously emerging in the finance industry, financial advisers and paraplanners often need to provide clients with the most up-to-date and relevant solutions to their financial planning. 
  2. Detail Oriented: Attention to detail is an important aspect for both roles when developing financial plans to ensure the most accurate reporting and advice is provided to clients. 
  3. Interpersonal Skills: Financial advisers must excel in building and maintaining client relationships, while paraplanners benefit from strong writing skills for report preparation. 
  4. Communication Skills: Financial advisers must explain complex financial concepts to clients in a clear and understandable manner, while paraplanners focus on effective written communication. 
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Update your skillset on your CV

When considering a career transition, start by updating your CV to reflect the skills expected of financial advisers. 

Highlighting both your soft and technical skills in your CV often creates a good first impression on the hiring manager, while referencing the skills listed on the job description can help you stand out and suggest that you’d be able to meet the job expectation well. 

If you need additional support, Indeed provides lots of great tips on how to update your CV in order to get your dream financial adviser job, along with examples to help you get started. 

Choosing the Right Qualifications 

After having gained first-hand, practical experience in financial planning through the role of a paraplanner, many find that a career transition to financial adviser is a natural, more fulfilling career progression option. According to Research in Finance’s ‘Paraplanning in a Pandemic 2021 Report’, a quarter (25%) of paraplanners stated that their career aspiration is to move into a financial adviser role, either full-time or part-time, suggesting that it’s a popular career transition for many. In fact, many employers encourage paraplanners to take additional qualifications, to work their way towards becoming a Chartered Financial Adviser.

Building into more specialist knowledge skills through an industry accredited qualification can undoubtedly increase your hiring potential, as well as prepare you for the career transition itself. 

Given that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) serves as the regulatory authority overseeing the financial services sector in the UK, the DipFA, recognised as the industry standard, aligns with the FCA criteria for financial advising. This means it’s the ideal starting point to build on your existing paraplanning knowledge and skills, to help you move up the career ladder and into your first financial adviser role.

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Awarded by The London Institute of Banking and Finance, the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA), is the ideal qualification for a career transition from paraplanning to financial advising, setting you on the right path.

Designed to help you develop fundamental knowledge and skills and required to kickstart your career as a financial adviser, the DipFA covers topics such as:

  • Financial regulation and ethics,
  • Data analysis,
  • Managing and creating financial plans, understanding risk, and
  • Communicating financial advice

The bottom line is that paraplanning and financial advising are two distinct career paths, and while they tend to fall under the same umbrella, they have varying career expectations, tasks, skills and knowledge requirements. 

A background in paraplanning, however, provides a solid foundation for those looking to enhance their career in the finance industry, making the transition to a financial adviser role a natural step forward. 


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