Recruitment… the Para-Sols way

Wondering where all the good paraplanners are? You’re not the only one.


Most advisers I speak to are struggling with recruitment and retention, and not just of paraplanners. The dearth of people coming into financial services means many firms are finding it difficult to grow, not through lack of demand but because they are unable to find good-quality advisers, administrators and operational support to build the supply.

So, what to do? If you are determined to find someone with experience, rather than train a newbie from scratch, here are some things to consider:

Review your job advert.

Ours are written quite colloquially, and are ever so slightly tongue in cheek, and we get candidates raving about them all the time. They always say they applied for our role because the job advert jumped out at them against so many other bland ones. It really doesn’t take much to stand out, and therefore get the best people applying for your role.

Use the interview as the opportunity to properly get under their skin. 

Find out what makes them tick, and work out whether they’ll fit with your team. Don’t do this by intimidating them, but by putting them as much at ease as possible.

Think through their experience.

Are they welcomed warmly? Given a hot drink? Sat somewhere comfortable, with table dynamics not overly intense? You want them to relax and open up, not crumble from nerves.

Ask them to do a trial.

It can be a full day, or a few hours. Have a good task ready that will help assess their key skills. Not only does this enable you to test what they’ve told you at interview, but it allows them to see your environment and make sure it’s the right one for them. It’s easy to view your company through your eyes and sell it as the best place ever – only for them to start work and find it not what they were expecting. You want to prevent this from happening and save a difficult conversation six months down the line.

So, those are some tips for recruiting experienced people, but if you can’t even find them to begin with, then what?

I eventually settled on ‘growing my own’ as the way to scale Para-Sols because I just couldn’t find the right paraplanners to help build my business. And I’ve expanded that into compliance and now operations. So ‘grow your own’ can work phenomenally well – but you need to be prepared to put the work in, and accept it isn’t a super-quick fix.

Plot out the role, both at outset and for the career path.

People joining fresh from outside finance, in a trainee role, will want to know what opportunities are available for them to progress into, not just the initial role they will start in

Consider your age range.

We mostly recruit graduates. We tried college leavers; had an assessment day booked for 10 of them, and only one turned up. Of the other nine, one got in touch to apologise for not being able to make it, and the others disappeared, seemingly off the face of the earth.

Success rates with graduates have, in our experience, been far, far higher.

Think about how you will assess them. 

A traditional interview is unlikely to work as they won’t have much, if any, relevant experience for you to draw on. Likewise, a trial day can be difficult to manage if they can’t yet do the tasks that you are hoping to train them in.

We run assessment days instead, but ones that mirror our recruitment ethos of putting them completely at ease, so we can truly see their personalities and work out whether they’ll fit in with the existing team.

Be prepared to be flexible.

We’ve found that the majority of our graduates are sponges for information and want to learn and develop really quickly – so we need to be able to support that. Some, however, will want to pace their studies so they have a better work/life balance, and that’s just as important. We have a structure that enables them to go at their own pace.

Check out our recruitment tool, The Grad Scheme here.

Cathi Harrison – Founder & Director

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