Paraplanning is a relatively new concept within the financial community. Essentially, an individual engaged in paraplanning focuses on the administrative tasks that are necessary to accomplish a project, such as putting together a budget or arranging documentation for the execution of a stock order. Planners who provide these types of services may function as assistants to brokers and financial analysts, or as separate outsourcing companies that provide this type of support services to their clients.
While the concept of paraplanning is usually traced back to the United Kingdom during the 1990’s, the idea is now found in many financial circles around the globe. Nations like Canada, the United States, Brazil, Japan, and many countries in Africa have found the addition of the paraplanner to be extremely effective in increasing the efficiency of handling transactions of all types. Discount brokers, financial planners, investment advisors, and budget planners all find paraplanning a helpful approach.
Although there is no clearly defined process for paraplanning that spans across all applications, individuals who function as paraplanners are likely to function in some type of administrative capacity, perhaps as a liaison, assistant, or consultant. In terms of characteristics, a paraplanner will tend to be very organized, have an eye for detail, and possess a combination of educational background and experience that makes him or her an authority on the type of project under consideration. This positions the planner so that he or she can easily identify and handle any administrative tasks that are necessary to the successful achievement of the goals associated with the project.
It is not unusual for paraplanning to require skills such as the ability to gather and interpret statistics accurately, prepare written reports, structure oral presentations of those reports, and manage resources so that they are utilized to best effect. Paraplanners tend to be articulate and able to work well with others, sometimes acting as a facilitator as well as a leader. In today’s world, where so many tasks are handled using electronic resources, it is not unusual for a paraplanner to also be somewhat proficient with Information Technology protocols and various forms of software programs.
In terms of the types of projects where paraplanning may be helpful, financial planning is the most commonly cited example. This planning may be related to preparing budgets to meet long-term goals set by a business, or to aid an individual in effective retirement planning. The paraplanner may also be called upon to assist in completely reworking the financial structure of an operation, thus making it more competitive and able to generate higher profits after the restructuring is complete.