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Jobs in finance: how to become a paraplanner

25 October, 2021Richard Cooper

If you’re interested in the world of investments and personal finance – and you enjoy gathering and analysing information and writing reports – a career in paraplanning could be right for you. This page covers all you need to know about becoming and working as a paraplanner, including skills and qualifications.

What does a paraplanner do?

Phone and computer screenA paraplanner works alongside a financial adviser to create and recommend a financial plan to meet a clients’ needs. They analyse and assess the information gathered from the client and discuss the possible solutions with the adviser before preparing the recommendation. The financial adviser then presents the recommendation to the client.

Within some financial planning businesses, paraplanners are present at client meetings, to take notes or present part of the meeting.

Where does a paraplanner work?

Working as a paraplanner offers great flexibility. You can work anywhere in the UK. Many roles now provide flexible working arrangements where you can work from home.

Financial advice firms vary in size from substantial to boutique. As paraplanner, you might work either at an established financial advice firm or for an outsourced paraplanning company. 

How do you become a paraplanner?

There are a few ways you could become a paraplanner.

Some people join in an entry-level position and work their way up. Many paraplanners have gained experience as a financial services administrator before moving into a trainee paraplanner role.

Many companies are looking for trainee paraplanners and look to develop them into the role. 

What skills do you need as a paraplanner?

As it is a varied role, paraplanning requires a varied skillset. To succeed as a paraplanner are you will need to be able to:

  • write good English, because you’ll have to write ‘suitability’ reports about financial investments and options in a way that clients can understand
  • speak clearly and confidently, so that you can discuss your research and complex finance matters – such as tax and trusts – with the financial adviser
  • be a good team player, because you’ll be working closely with financial advisers and other teams
  • pay attention to detail so that you can identify clients’ real needs and spot when small details might have big impacts on their finances.

You’ll also need to be comfortable with the technical side of finance. As a paraplanner it’s important to keep your technical knowledge up to date on all areas of financial planning through continuing professional development (CPD).

What qualification do you need to work as a paraplanner?

You don’t need to go to university to become a paraplanner, though some people get a degree first. But you will need to do some qualifications, which many firms will support you to do while you work in a trainee paraplanner role.

There are two qualifications you could consider:

  • Diploma in Paraplanning (DipPP) which will give you all the knowledge and skills you need to work as a paraplanner, and
  • the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA), which is perfect if you’re thinking of possibly becoming a financial adviser at some stage too.

Both of these qualifications are equivalent to a first-year degree programme.

How long does it take to become a paraplanner? 

As you need to gain experience and take exams it takes around 18 months to two years to develop from a trainee paraplanner to a competent paraplanner.

From there it takes another three years to become a technical or senior paraplanner, dealing with involved and very complex cases. Senior or technical paraplanners are very much in demand so if you want to progress your career, there's plenty of opportunity.

What’s the best thing about this role?

Paraplanning is a very rewarding career. First there’s the satisfaction of helping advisers to help people and their families secure their financial future.

Secondly there’s the flexibility a paraplanning career offers, which is valuable if you need to fit work around your life or changing circumstances.

Related content

More about the Diploma in Paraplanning (DipPP)

More about the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA)