How We’re Changing the World of Paraplanning
In the past few years, we have grown from a simple job board to a thriving community of hundreds and hundreds of virtual paraplanners.
But even as recently as a few years ago, the idea of virtual paraplanning simply didn’t exist. In fact, paraplanning as a job is such a modern development that there’s still plenty of confusion over what the work entails, whether or not it’s a career in its own right, and how to get started in the position.
We created Simply Paraplanner to change that—and along the way, our founder Alex Hopkin and COO Jen Pritchard have made it their mission to change the industry entirely. On a recent episode of The Paraplanner Podcast with Michelle Hoskin, Jen and Alex explained how the world of paraplanning has shifted in the past few years, and how Simply Paraplanner has played a role in that. You can check out the podcast yourself, but here’s a little of what they had to say!
First off, what is a paraplanner?
In theory, this sounds like an easy question—but it’s actually surprisingly complicated. Once upon a time, “paraplanning” meant something a little different from what it means today. For example, paraplanners were originally expected to handle basic admin work in a financial planning firm, including filling out forms and filing documents. In addition, the educational standards weren’t the same back then as they are now.
Today (in the US), paraplanning has developed into a career path—even if it isn’t always recognized as such. The modern paraplanner is heavily educated, with the technical skills to tackle the nitty-gritty details of financial planning while working to support their advisors. And like many other jobs, paraplanning as an industry has moved online to a certain extent, allowing paraplanners to use their skills from all over the world. Career changers, military spouses, travelers—nowadays, paraplanners can come from anywhere.
How did paraplanning go from traditional to virtual?
Back when Jen and Alex first started as paraplanners, there wasn’t much of a community for virtual paraplanners. As Jen states on the podcast, she felt “done” with the traditional office setup—but she was the only person she knew who had even considered taking her paraplanning work online. Meanwhile, as a military spouse living overseas, Alex also felt alone working as a virtual paraplanner.
Over time, Alex realized there was a real need for a support system for virtual paraplanners, and Simply Paraplanner was born. In 2015, Simply Paraplanner started as a simple job board. Back in a time when online paraplanning was a brand-new concept, the job board offered listings of 100% virtual paraplanning opportunities across the country, allowing virtual paraplanners to connect with the advisors who needed them.
Today, our site has expanded, redesigned as a one-stop shop for virtual paraplanners hoping to develop their skill sets, as well as for financial planning firms searching for the perfect virtual paraplanner. At present, we boast over a thousand members on our website—and growing! The recent addition of the Paraplanner Portal allows anyone interested in becoming a virtual paraplanner the opportunity to grow their skills online. As a virtual academy, the Paraplanner Portal offers webinars, live Q&A, and (perhaps most importantly) software training on some of the most popular software programs in the financial planning industry.
So, how are we shaking things up and changing the world of paraplanning?
Well, we are determined to help paraplanners create the work environment that fits their lifestyle. We want virtual paraplanners to have more control over their schedules and tasks, and be able to work from anywhere.
We are also redefining what it means to be a paraplanner. Back when Simply Paraplanner was first launched in 2015, we quickly learned that our audience didn’t like to be associated with the term “paraplanner.” The word had too many connotations with basic admin work, and the members wanted to move beyond this type of job.
Abandoning alternative terms like “financial planning specialist” and “associate financial planner,” Alex and Jen have instead worked hard to redefine the paraplanning role, embracing the term “paraplanner” as a title. Ultimately, the idea is to change the perception of paraplanning. It is not only an entry-level position, or a stepping stone toward a career as a financial advisor. Many paraplanners find that they prefer the technical side to financial planning, enjoying the work right where they are—without feeling the need to have their own clients or launch their own firm.
The value a paraplanner brings to a financial advisor is often underestimated. Another key goal of ours is helping firms realize how critical a paraplanner’s support can be. We want to help firms grow their business without expanding their office. By hiring a paraplanner, firms can free up time while growing their business’s revenue. That’s why we offer personalized help to financial advisors searching for their perfect paraplanner through our hiring services. Working closely with advisors, we help to narrow down the candidate pool to the top three paraplanners for a position—making it easier than ever for a financial advisor to hire their very first remote paraplanner!
Listen in for more from Jen Pritchard and Alex Hopkin!
On the podcast, Jen and Alex cover a huge range of interesting updates about the paraplanning industry, the goals of Simply Paraplanner, and the history of paraplanning. Take a listen for a deeper dive into the topics covered above and more, including:
- Are paraplanners really getting paid what they’re worth?
- What are the most important “soft skills” for a virtual paraplanner?
- What are the differences between paraplanning in the US and in the UK?
- What does the future hold for the paraplanning sector?
- What are the pros and cons of virtual vs. traditional paraplanning?
Check it out here for more info!
If you’d like to learn more about paraplanning, or if you’re interested in becoming a paraplanner, join the Simply Paraplanner community.