What happens behind the scenes at Cullen Financial Planning?
The role of paraplanner is an important part of the business. Our paraplanner team provide background research and write reports enabling our advisers to deliver the best possible advice to our clients.
To help understanding of the paraplanner role we thought we’d let Richard share a typical day…..[hr]
As I cycle the four miles to work, it’s always a good start to the day when I look out of the window in the morning to see it’s dry outside. There’s nothing worse than arriving at the office soaked through. Today the clouds threaten but it looks like we’ll be ok
I arrive in the office at 8.30 and get straight down to planning my day, prioritising my workload.
We work within a team, meeting weekly to discuss workloads, sharing best practice and chatting about any new products or funds on the market. These meetings really help in understanding what’s available for clients, identify emerging trends and ensure that as a business we’re delivering the best possible advice to clients.
My first piece of work today is quite a complex case involving a number of legacy pension plans. It’s not uncommon for us to find plans that the client didn’t realise they had, often where the client has had a number of employers over the years.
This case has me sourcing information relating to plans from Pearl Insurance, Sun Life of Canada, Friends Provident and AXA. Often, the Company with whom the original policy was taken out no longer exists in its original form, so just finding the right contact number can be a challenge in itself.
The task of understanding and comparing plan charges on older contracts is time consuming and complex. How the client would ever understand some of these plans is beyond me, but I suppose that’s why we’re here.
After fours hours of investigation and report writing I’m now in a position to discuss the report with the adviser before they present it to the client. On more complex cases, it’s important that we discuss the case so that we both agree on the best way forward for the client. Having all the background also helps the adviser present it to the client in an easy to understand way, helping the client come to an informed decision as to the next steps.
Lunch! Some time to relax a little after the complex report I’ve just produced.
I spend some time catching up on emails and returning calls to advisers who require updates on the progress of cases. We can often wait weeks for information to come back from insurance companies, which of course slows down the whole process.
On to my next case of the day – a far simpler report. It’s for a member of a company pension scheme where they are considering moving their old scheme pension plan into the new one we have established for the Company. It’s a reasonably straightforward case, the new plan charges are lower, there’s no cost to transfer and investment performance on the old plan has been less than disappointing.
Just to ensure the advice is correct, we use a number of software packages that model and compare different products. It helps to support the advice we give and often helps the client understand the recommendations.
We’ve some training to attend. One of the insurance companies has come in to deliver a session on Fixed Term Annuities. They’re a relatively new concept but with annuity rates so low they may be relevant for some clients. An interesting and informative session.
More emails and calls to catch up on previous work. Some outstanding information has come in that enables me to complete a report that’s been on hold for a few days. This client will be delighted, we’ve found out that one of his plans has guaranteed annuity rates and he’s just coming up to retirement. It means he’ll have an additional 15% increase in retirement income. A great way to end the day!
That’s my work day done. I’ll get home for a quick bite to eat, help put our two little ones to bed and then it’s out for a squash match. Looking forward to it already.