Brian Knight

Solely relying on graduate new entrants into advice is going to be a slow process and Kaplan Professional has responded by launching a dedicated qualification for paraplanners.

The Advanced Diploma in Paraplanning has been created for both existing and new paraplanners, giving those a pathway into the financial advice industry.

Kaplan chief executive Brian Knight tells Professional Planner the education provider met with licensees and advice practitioners to build the course.

“It was built with a lot of input because licensees and planners said they wanted something that was really rigorous.”

Paraplanners do not fall under the education standard required by financial advisers, but nevertheless, Kaplan wanted to include them as part of the education process.

“At the heart they’re at the engine of where planning occurs,” Knight says. “We wanted to a mirror an increase in what happened in financial planning education standards.”

It’s the first fully digital qualification the provider has built and will feature written and oral assessments, as well three statements of advice produced during the course.

“The final subject has a complex multi-strategy [SOA] across life, super and managed investments. It’s supported by an actual practitioner as a tutor.”

Serving new and old

Knight says paraplanning has generally been considered the normal pathway into planning and the course has been designed for those who want to enter the role or already working as one.

From the Advanced Diploma they can get entry into the higher educational qualifications that are required under the education standard.

“It gives licensees the confidence they what the program they’ve done is,” Knight says. “For existing paraplanners they can get a qualification which they’ve never been able to get before, which recognises their status and importance in the industry.”

The industry is yet to be blown away by new entrants coming through the university system – former financial services minister Jane Hume described the pipeline as “thin” – and Knight says this will give another avenue to help improve adviser numbers.

“We can go on about new entrants from universities and career changers, but it’s paraplanners that have traditionally been the source because they get such a good grounding,” Knight says. “This gives them real recognition.”