Advisers need to rethink how they view paraplanners to avoid a possible recruitment crisis, according to a financial services recruitment firm.
A senior paraplanning role promoted by Heat Recruitment in the City offering up to £70,000 a year has been vacant for months.
The salary for the chartered paraplanning manager position has been hiked by £20,000 compared to the industry average, but Heat Recruitment has yet to find any suitable candidates.
Up until last week, the firm had not seen a single interviewee, although some initial phone interviews are now underway.
The firm blames a growing shortage of paraplanners at all levels, and suggests that this will continue to push salaries upwards.
Senior financial services consultant Edward Holdaway said: 'While the last six months has seen a gradual increase in demand for financial planning jobs in The City and across the UK, paraplanners are in the shortest supply and it is these roles that are seeing salaries outpace those of others positions.
'There seems to be a lack of understanding of what a paraplanner is, with some still seeing it as little more than a varied administrative role and a route into advice. However, the role, which is still in its infancy when compared to other roles within the financial services sector, has evolved into something more technical.
'Its position as a career of choice isn’t quite there yet and the challenge facing the sector is how to ‘sell’ the role of a paraplanner to graduates.'
Cathi Harrison (pictured), director of Darlington-based paraplanning firm Para-Sols, has adopted a 'grow your own' approach to hiring paraplanners as a result of difficult industry conditions.
She said: 'We have always found recruiting experienced, qualified paraplanners extremely difficult. We still regularly receive CVs from paraplanners looking for work from us but nine times out of 10, they are looking for work on a freelance basis.
'At one point we opened additional offices in Leeds and London to be closer to those paraplanners, but still found the number of applicants to our job vacancies to be very low.
'We ultimately therefore decided to grow our own through The Grad Scheme, which aims to address the point Heat made about paraplanning needing to be seen as a career of choice.
'There is still very little understanding of the paraplanning role outside of financial services - and we find when we get grads in, and talk them through the role and how it sits in the profession they’re really enthused for it.
'So the issue isn’t that the role itself isn’t interesting enough for people - but that as a profession we’re not doing enough to promote it, to help increase the supply, which the demand clearly needs.'