Ashley Wiltshire of Wiltshire Paraplanning, shares her top tips on the skills and personal qualities paraplanners need to be successful and to provide the best service they can to financial advisers.
In my paraplanning career, I’ve not known anything other than being an outsourced paraplanner. In eight years of developing Wiltshire Paraplanning – and speaking with my long-standing clients – I have established a good system. This is my advice on what you need to consider.
As a paraplanner and a leader, be supportive of others. Have a can-do mentality and remember, we are all human beings!
Find good in every situation and show passion in what you do.
This works both ways, encourage your clients to talk to you from the beginning. The paraplanner needs to:
- keep the adviser updated on where they are with cases
- provide realistic turnaround times, and
- never over promise.
The adviser can then manage client expectations.
And make time to check in with clients – to talk business and life – and to listen.
It’s by listening that I pick up on what matters most to our clients and implement new ideas to provide an even better service.
Clear service standards
Clients greatly appreciate clear service standards. It’s also important to manage the number of clients you are dealing with at any one time.
That way you can provide a consistent service. And, as a result, your clients will feel assured and relaxed that the work is in hand and being dealt with efficiently.
Attention to detail
I love the details! These include:
- a client’s personal objectives
- ensuring everything flows from the fact-find to the suitability report
- checking for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and
- most importantly compliance.
Don’t apply the same label to every report, watch the jargon and keep it personal! Creating a robust handover process will help with this.
The final product needs to be professional. This is your brand so your work needs to be as near-perfect as it can be.
Speed of service
The most common question I am asked is “How long will it take?”
Be realistic, set timescales that you can stick to and continue to communicate. And you need to be well organised so you can be efficient.
I’ve often found that, by the time we receive the case, the advisers have already spent weeks on it and it’s usually their first transaction with the client. That means time is of the essence.
Do all that you can within your control.
Certainly not a deal breaker but it pays to have built up a good reputation before charging the earth.
Do some research on companies in your area. But remember you’re always going to be too expensive or too cheap for some.
Give time and thought to what you charge but base it on your experience and ‘worth’.
In times like these, it’s important to adapt to changing circumstances, uplift and mentor, to enable people to help each other and the business.
Adapting means asking questions like where can we add value, in what ways, that our clients need now?
I have found this adds value to the service we provide, which in turn helps our clients’ business continuity in such a strange time!
Clearly, any paraplanner needs a good level of technical knowledge. But it is even better if you have a diverse range of knowledge across different advice areas. This will expand what services you can provide.
For 99% of the time, advisers will be looking for someone who is at least Diploma qualified. Get yourself out there, reach out to risk managers and build your own network.
Ashley has worked in the UK financial services industry for 14 years.
Since 2014, she has run her own outsourced paraplanning business, Wiltshire Paraplanning, which was shortlisted for the Outsourced Paraplanner of the Year Award 2019 by Professional Paraplanner.
Ashley is a coach and mentor to her team who consistently provide suitable submissions.
Find out about our Diploma in Paraplanning (DipPP)