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7 tips to ace your day as a Paraplanner
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Many contract Paraplanners work on a ‘per SoA’ rate of pay. The benefit of a fixed rate is knowing what you get paid, and it makes it easier for the client to digest this also. If you are super speedy and efficient, this will increase your effective hourly rate. However, if you are inefficient and don’t structure your time properly, your hourly rate might be comparable to the one you got as a part time shop assistant in high school!
So what are some tips and tricks that can help you improve your productivity and ace your day?
Speak to the Adviser about the SoA. Sounds simple. What if I say, “Don’t send an email, task request, text message…either see them face to face or call them”. Big difference. I always remind Paraplanners that the knowledge you get in a 5-10 minute verbal summary from the Adviser is worth a dozen emails. Minimum. And it’s a win-win-win. It will reduce time spent on the SoA, it will improve the quality of the SoA (more client info) AND you are building your relationship and rapport with the Adviser. Yes!
Check your SoA request documentation within 24 hours of receiving it. Think about it, if you have 5 business days to get the work done, and you leave it until the 4th day to figure out you are missing key details that prevent you completing the SoA, where does this leave you? The ‘Day 1 check’ will not only prevent you wasting time scrabbling to fill in the blanks but it will also give your client, theAdviser, time to get any missing info to you without affecting the completion date. And that right there is about commercial acumen and professionalism, both of which you need in abundance if you are to succeed in this increasingly competitive space.
Re-work is the bane of our existence. Whatever you can do to make sure the first SoA submission is the last, is going to free up your time for days. Don’t submit rushed, first drafts to your client. Not only does this diminish your brand but it chews up time in review and re-submission. My advice is always to draft the SoA and then leave it, for at least a few hours, and come back to review. Fresh eyes find the errors in the detail.
Plan your day. I have one of those Kmart weekly schedules and each morning on my first of five coffees for the day, I plan what I will do in my day. I’m not saying I always get through the list but I am saying it helps guide my priorities and know my capacity. You will often be asked what your capacity is and if you aren’t planning your activity and schedule… well we’ve all been in the overcommitted territory of 1am SoAs and its not pretty and does nothing for the efficiency and quality of your work.
Be curious and offer solutions. Advisers are watching you Paraplanners and they know you now have as many letters after your name as them and do the same CPD training and assessment. Say no to the instruction takers! Rise to the occasion and think about each strategy you are presented and offer genuine alternatives, modifications and improvements. Be an ambassador for improving the quality of advice(and it might just make your day more interesting too). This is where you show true value to your Adviser clients and set yourself apart from the pack. Oh and it avoids the Adviser coming back to you to re-work the SoA when they figure out the alternatives / modifications / improvements for themselves!
Be a Tech Adopter. Think of it this way. If you can use tech that will save you 2 hours on each SoA and you do around 5 per week for 45 weeks of the year, you have an extra 450 hours to yourself each year (nearly 19 full days!) If I can find ways to reduce my time spent writing SoAs so I have an extra 19 days per year with my family, I’m pretty happy! Check out online reviews of new fintech, and other tools to manage your day. Think doc creation, review tools, communication, modelling and charting. Follow them on Facebook, LinkedIn, read the industry articles and attend the conferences.
Always learn. It’s just as important that you keep up your knowledge as it is for the Advisers. Whether you do the CPD program with Ontrack or choose your own way of keeping up to date, doit. Reference books also cut out a lot of research time for us as Paraplanners. I always have the latest copy of the Master FP Guide by Wolters Kluwerand the FirstTech Super and Retirement Income Stream Guide also.