How many suitability reports do you write a month?

....or maybe the discussion title should be how long is a piece of string!!

I would be interested for everyone's thoughts on this and what you are achieving on an average month.

I am becoming extremely frustrated with my boss at the moment who has an expectation of each paraplanner to complete 20 cases per month.

Am I right to feel this is unrealistic and depends on the type of case we are dealing with at that time.

This thread does link in slightly with my other post of managing workflow and time keeping as i am trying to pull together enough MI to prove my point.

Comments

  • Your first sentence hits the nail on the head for me as there's just so many variables to consider e.g.:

    • Whether you do pure report writing or more general PP role i.e. how much time do you have to spend actually report writing vs doing other tasks such as calculations, meetings, preparing meeting packs, processing applications etc
    • Quality of file e.g. KYC, objectives, meeting notes
    • Experience of paraplanner
    • Tools available e.g. dual screens, decent report templates, the right software for the job (cashflow, Selctapension, FE Analytics etc)
    • Distractions e.g. phone calls, questions, location (e.g. office vs home working)
    • Type of case; clearly an ISA top-up is going to be a lot quicker to write than a DB report

    However, "it depends" is an easy answer so I'll try to give you a bit more to work with. I currently target my team with 5 cases each per week, but there's a number of caveats that go with that so I'll explain my thinking as I suspect that isn't the answer you wanted!:

    • I came up with a simple grading system to try and get around the problem of comparing the varying workloads of different paraplanners. I based this on the fact that if you've got a half decent file from the adviser and allowing for a bit of admin either side of writing the report and other small tasks, an experienced paraplanner should be able to write 1 pension switching report a day (say with 3 existing schemes to analyse).
    • So, a grade 1 case is an 'easy' case that takes less than half a day e.g. ISA top-up. A 2 is a normal case that takes between 1/2 and 1 day e.g. the pension switching example above. And a 3 is a hard case that takes more than 1 day e.g. DB transfer, or multiple advice areas or complex cases.
    • This means I might have 1 paraplanner who's done 10 x grade 1 cases (10), another who did 5 x grade 2 (10) and another who's done 3 x grade 3 (9). At first glance it looks like 1 person is smashing it and another is not doing too well. However, they've all got broadly the same 'score' of 10 so I'm happy.
    • In my experience, for our paraplanners a target of 5 grade 2 cases a week is actually closer to 4 when you factor in other tasks, report amends, answering phones, meetings etc.

    20 cases a month might be a perfectly reasonable expectation. Then again, it might be a bit of a stretch. How many are you managing to do and what type of cases are you working on?

    Jonny (paraflex)
  • Average of 1 a week for new business/new client.

  • Some cases require a lot more work pre-report than others, and I would feel 20 per month to be very high, unless they're all straightforward ISA reports!

    I have many many hats in our business and I'm struggling to get on top of the end of year ISA reports alone, especially since the discovery that "top-up" reports are no longer a thing. :(

    Ruth Baker

  • We average about a dozen each a month, although as has been previously pointed out, there are many variables to consider, including report complexity. The grading system is an interesting one but to be honest, I think it becomes apparent quite quickly if someone is struggling with activity.

    @arongunningham can you elaborate a bit on your 1 a week? Do you have other responsibilities away from report writing, or is it typically a very complex piece of advice?

    Thanks

  • @ruthiebusybee If your advisers are doing 'end of tax year' ISA business then a long hard conversation with them needs to be had.
    We get all of ours done over the course of April to Dec. Some obviously get overlooked / missed / delayed so this March I have had to do 3.
    Advisers waiting until Jan / Feb to do this are being led by investment company marketing departments are doing client's a disservice as well as making everyone's life difficult!
    Top Up reports have always been 'simple', not full investment reports.

  • Going off on a slight tangent here but i'd say get the ISA recs done at review stage. Even if the review is in June and the clients don't have the funds until March, as long as their circumstances haven't changed, a letter won't be needed.

  • NigelONigelO Member

    Definitely a case of "How long is a piece of string"....

    For me, the time taken to write a case would be down to how much of the 'peripheral' activity has already been completed for me. So, taking a simple DC pension switching case as an example:

    1. Has the factfind been completed and all the values updated?
    2. Is there an adviser handover document / process, including fund / portfolio recommendations?
    3. Has the ceding scheme(s) information been obtained and checked for completeness?
    4. Has a critical yield calculation been performed on the ceding scheme(s)?
    5. Has comparative performance information been obtained?

    In my 30+ years as a paraplanner, I've found a huge variance in working practices between advice firms and sometimes even between advisers at the same firm. The 'Holy Grail' for me (which I don't think is unreasonable) is to be presented with a completed factfind, a documented handover including ATR & Capacity for Loss, a recommendation from the adviser and a full set of ceding scheme information (i.e. #1, #2 and #3 already done). If that was the case, I could probably do the CYC, performance comparison and suitability report in a day, depending on how many schemes there are.

    In practice, I tend to find that #1 has been partially addressed, but there's still a lot of old data to be updated. Some of #2 will also have been addressed, but there will still be information I'll have to work out for myself. The rest will be down to me. In this scenario, the job could easily take a couple of working days, spread over a couple of weeks.

    Another significant consideration is data integration. If your back office system is getting data feeds from providers, its a huge time-saver for the practice (as well as minimising data input errors). Similarly, if your suitability report writing software (if you use one) has client and plan data imported from the back office system, the time saved can run into hours per case.

    Going back to the OP - 20 cases per month would only be possible under my 'Holy Grail' scenario and even then, only if they were relatively straightforward cases. As soon as there's replacement business, vulnerable clients, CGT / carry forward / LTA / IHT etc considerations, I'd say 20 a month is unrealistic.

  • NathNath Member

    I agree Nigel, it does depend on so many variables. I would expect 1 and 2 to be completed certainly. However, as a paraplanner in our firm, we would be expected to complete 3, rather than this already being done. I appreciate our administrator would send LOAs and get the replies and let us know once this is in, but wouldn't have the knowledge to check for completeness, or whether something 'doesn't look right' or contain valuable guarantees etc. That would fall on us as paraplanners.

    As you say, so many firms (and advisers within the same firm!!) work in differing ways. Some may be comfortable with their administrator gathering and checking everything in point 3. I suppose if you have already been given all of 1 to 5, you would purely be a report writer and not a paraplanner. This is another issue altogether....what firms want from a paraplanner. Are they are they a true paraplanner that assists the adviser in analysing data and coming up with potential solutions etc (as well as many other things), or do firms just want a pure report writer.

    Entirely agree in that the 'Holy Grail' scenario you mention with good templates in place, 20 is doable, but in most cases this is definitely unrealistic.

  • I agree with the above comments. Any paraplanner, especially outsourced wants to get the case and write it up the moment the brief is assessed, but it doesn't work like that. New money from cash possibly, but any transfers, technical cases take longer, normally weeks.

    However, normally a combination of missing data from the provider and brief adjustments as the case is assessed, will mean cases get delayed.

    You also need to consider Paraplanning is not report writing, its case management from brief, policy, data assessments to research and calculations.

    It's why we use the term 'case work; in the business to get across the depth of the work involved.

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