The Evolving Paraplanner

The evolving paraplanner by Jon Dodson FPFS, ACSI, CIPD, Technical and Propositions Manager, Redmill Advance.

It’s fantastic to see that Paraplanning now gets the recognition it deserves as a profession in itself – this is not in a small way thanks to the work of a number of pioneering and determined individuals in our industry as well as a mind shift from some of our well-established larger organisations and bodies.

It certainly wasn’t always that way.

One factor that contributed heavily to the problem was the variations across the industry within the expectations of the role – the size of the firm had something to so with it, but a Paraplanning role could range from a senior administrator to a key attendee at a client meeting and beyond (and indeed everywhere in-between).

One thing that remains is the question of career progression for a Paraplanner once they have attained competency and/or mastery within the role.  The options are undoubtedly beguiling and numerous but here we’ll look in brief at a few of them and also think about how we can make the right decision.  This is particularly at the forefront of our minds as we start to set development goals for a new year.

All of this needs to be assessed in the context of the size and type of firm and what opportunities are available.

The Planner/Adviser route

In the old world, the Paraplanning role was often viewed as a stepping stone to becoming a regulated financial adviser.  This still works for some and indeed having an abundance of technical knowledge to hand can be very helpful.  Also, you may have had exposure to some key planning tools and strategies such as Cash Flow Modelling – depending on what being a Paraplanner meant in your particular firm. 

In truth, dependent on the type of business you work for, the skill set of the Paraplanner can look vastly different to that of an Adviser where the emphasis is on rapport building and behavioural talents.  Also, for many, it just isn’t what they want to do.

This doesn’t mean these attributes can’t be encouraged and developed in a Paraplanning role but this route of career progression is not your only option.

Top tip if this path is for you:  Get a great mentor!

Paraplanning Manager

You know the role inside out.  You’re the best in the firm.  So how about managing the team?

Well, absolutely.  It might be a great idea but again this can come with challenges. 

Like the transition from Paraplanner to Adviser, we are really talking about the bread and butter of the role being based on a different set of skills and talents – you are probably fully aware of what you’re great at and what you find difficult and challenging but if you’re not, a secondment into a managerial role may be a useful option.

There’s also the challenge of going on to manage your peers – many find this takes a while to adjust to.

Technical Roles

If you blitzed the exams and adore pouring over the FCA and HMRC websites for legislative changes maybe this is for you.

The opportunity to really focus on the technical elements of our industry is delightful to some – for others, it can feel like moving away from being ‘boots deep’ in client affairs on a day to day basis.

The continuously evolving Paraplanner

Our industry never stays still and for even the greatest Paraplanner to stay at the top of their game they will need to continue to stay up to date, evolve and improve. 

Loving the job and wanting to strive for a better outcome for clients in a Paraplanning role is in itself something noble to aspire to.

Key to getting this right is making sure you have clearly defined goals for the year – know yourself (with you manager) and set relevant and pertinent targets.

We’ve touched on just a few options there and it’s far from an exhaustive list of options. 

Like all great personal development journeys, you can break this down into a few simple steps….. 

  • Know yourself well
  • Identify your goal for development
  • Identify where you are now in relation to that goal
  • Set brilliant objectives (SMART, well-formed, whichever model you choose to use)
  • Find great learning resources
  • Review regularly

You’ve doubtless plotted similar journeys for achieving client goals many times.

And lastly, great coaching or mentoring where appropriate always helps – ask your manager for guidance on this.
Written for Professional Paraplanner and featured in the March 2022 magazine. 

About Redmill Advance
Redmill Advance is a regulated Financial Services training via a digital platform from a range of CII and CISI qualifications.

In addition, we offer a white-label learning platform solution. Our clients benefit from over 240+ digital programmes from CII and CISI exam-based training to Leadership, Regulatory, Compliance, Soft-skills, Behavioural and so much more. All accessible 24/7, on any device, and from anywhere in the world.

Our corporate solutions offer a large reporting suite and full admin capability putting you and your business in control.

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