Employers need to recognise alternative skills

Insurance and financial service companies need to take off their employment blinkers if they are to snap up the best candidates, according to the UK’s fastest growing recruitment consultancy.

Search Consultancy says there is a shortage of paraplanners who hold the relevant Advanced Financial Planning Certificate (AFPC) qualification that many companies see as essential.

Kathy Wiffen, managing consultant for financial services at Search, explains: “Insurance and financial service firms need to realise that there is a wealth of suitable candidates in the market for jobs who would be a valuable asset to their company, but they may not have the ‘appropriate’ qualifications. Employers need to see past this and look objectively about the skills set that the applicants possess.

“If, for example, they have good experience of report writing, processing new business or general technical knowledge, these are all excellent transferable skills that are easily adaptable to the sector.”

Search says that paraplanning is an attractive and viable alternative to being an IFA as it avoids the sales pitches and long hours associated with a career as an advisor.

Wiffen says: “Over the last couple of years we’ve seen paraplanning become a rewarding career in its own right, whereas before it was thought of as a back office admin function.

“IFAs haven’t been slow to notice how much value paraplanners can add to their business. A good paraplanner frees up the IFA to spend more time with clients, as well as enabling them to see more clients. Not only is that valuable to the practice in terms of additional fees, but it means the clients get a better service and are therefore more likely to give the practice repeat business.

“Unfortunately there is a real shortage of AFPC-qualified paraplanners, hence the dramatic inflation of salaries. If you have four firms recruiting for a good paraplanner, for example, the right candidate can more or less name their price because the competition is so fierce.

“We’d encourage IFAs to take a longer-term view by bringing in trainee paraplanners and giving them the right support and resources to achieve full AFPC status; in this instance holding out for someone who already has the qualification is not necessarily the most cost-effective way to resource for your organisation.”