Recently I was told that the entire paraplanning process could be automated with the bare minimum of human interaction. I could not disagree more.

Paraplanning might seem ripe for automation; in a study scoring the probability jobs that will become automated from 0 to 1, the comparable paralegal role scored 0.94, one of the highest.

Last week, I popped into my local branch of a well-known high street bank to pay in some money. I was directed to a self-service machine. However, what at first seemed a quick and easy experience left me a little underwhelmed.

I want to be challenged over whether I have used my ISA allowance, informed about the latest savings rate, or reminded that my fixed rate mortgage is due to expire. I would want this to be by someone who truly knows what they are talking about.

Why should paraplanning be any different? Sure, software that can assist in the paraplanning process has it place. Perfect examples of this are critical yield and total expense ratio calculators. These can be used to provide factually correct results based on numerical objectives and inputs, but cannot provide the subsequent knowledge and experience-based steps, particularly when an anomaly rears it head.

Personal touch

However not all software is up to the job. My biggest bugbear is suitability report writing software. This is not paraplanning. It can be used to fill the gaps in providing the bare bones of a compliant report, but it will not translate the client or adviser objectives in a personalised way.

So long as paraplanners make the role about questioning assumptions, we should be immune from the rise of the robots.

James Eden is business development manager at The Timebank