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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Alex Hopkin on the Evolution of Paraplanning

Simply Paraplanner's Alex Hopkin details what paraplanners do to make an advisory firm more efficient and effective.



Welcome back to the 212th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Alex Hopkin. Alex is the founder of Simply Paraplanner, a job board and training portal for virtual paraplanners across the U.S. What’s unique about Alex, though, is her vision for Simply Paraplanner—not just as a way for paraplanners to find job opportunities and firms to find virtual paraplanning help—but to support the ongoing evolution of paraplanning from an entry-level support role into a dedicated professional services career path unto itself.

In this episode, we talk in depth about what paraplanners really do in an advisory firm to make it more efficient and effective, the best way to divide tasks between a paraplanner and a lead advisor, how the internal process of crafting a financial plan must change when a paraplanner develops the initial plan but the lead advisor has to get up to speed on the details and recommendations in order to actually deliver it, and how the technical demands of the paraplanner role have risen in recent years to the point that designations like the Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional are no longer necessarily sufficient, and firms increasingly want someone with CFP certification or at least who has completed the CFP educational requirement and passed the CFP exam to be in the paraplanner role.

We also talk about the Simply Paraplanner platform itself, how advisory firms become split about hiring part-time or full-time paraplanners based on their own current size and needs, the support services that Simply Paraplanner provides for firms that aren’t sure how to pick the right paraplanner for their own firm, and the portal that Simply Paraplanner has developed to help newer virtual paraplanners get the training they need to be successful, from guidance on how to set up a virtual paraplanning practice to training in key financial planning software like eMoney and MoneyGuidePro.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Alex shares her own path through the financial services profession and building the Simply Paraplanner platform, from the frustrations of trying to get paraplanner work herself as a stay-at-home spouse and military mom that led her to founding Simply Paraplanner so others could have an easier journey, the emotional roller coaster that is founding and building a business, the turning point where Alex decided three years ago to turn Simply Paraplanner from a hobby into a full-time focus by taking on a partner so that they can build together, and Alex’s advice to newer financial planners trying to enter the profession today who want to get started on the right foot.

So whether you’re interested in learning about the education and designations needed to become a professional paraplanner, how hiring a paraplanner can benefit your firm, or the challenges that Alex faced trying to find work virtually as a military spouse, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.

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