How to escape from the ‘paraplanner mindset’?


How to escape from the ‘paraplanner mindset’?

“But you’ve only been a consultant for 18 months?”

This was a comment made by an individual that I mentor as part of The Paraplanner Club. And for the record, it was not meant as a criticism. Instead, they were trying to understand two main things. The first, how did I have the confidence to make the step into consultancy? And second, how did I overcome the inescapable fact that yes, I have only been an external consultant for 18 months.

The answers? Well,  the two questions actually have the same answer and it’s something that in general we as paraplanners can fall victim of; it’s the imposter syndrome mindset and how you can escape it.

What is the imposter syndrome mindset?

According to Dr. Valerie Young, co-founder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, there are five basic types of imposter syndrome mindsets:

  1. The Perfectionist – “unless you are perfect, you could have done better”
  2. The Expert – “unless you know everything and anything about a subject, you don’t know enough. The more you learn, the more you realise you don’t know”
  3. The Natural Genius – “can feel like a fraud simply because you don’t believe you are naturally intelligent”
  4. The Soloist – “you have asked for help from friends or colleagues to help reach a certain status. Because of this, you question your own abilities”
  5. The Superperson – “you believe you need to be the hardest worker and to reach the highest level of achievement”

Sound familiar? Well feel reassured that you are not alone, as in my experience, the majority of paraplanners can slip into these mindsets from time to time!

How can you tackle it?

Now before I answer this, my background is paraplanning. I’ve been an in-house paraplanner, I’ve managed a team of paraplanners and I am now Head of Mentoring at The Paraplanner Club, which is a paraplanner community that offers free mentoring to paraplanners around the country. But whilst my background is in paraplanning, these tips are not limited to those only in the paraplanning profession. These three steps may or may not work for you, but they are steps that I found helpful for my own development:

1. Share your feelings

I always think it’s a shame that I can’t speak to my younger self, as in the past I would have needed someone exactly like me now to help give some guidance. Sharing your feelings with others can help to gain a perspective from an impartial party. This is what The Paraplanner Club as a resource can offer, and with over 25 mentors and approximately 100 mentees around the country, we are perfectly placed to offer support to paraplanners around the country.

2. Assess your abilities

Hold your employer to account. If you feel that you wish to develop in a particular area, make your team leader or manager aware of this and ask what they can do to help. An effective and supportive team leader or manager should help provide a realistic assessment of your abilities and put in place steps to support you in your personal growth and development.

3. Stop fighting it, grow from it

And finally, once you’ve found support from a third party, worked with your team leader or manager to develop a growth plan, you should stop fighting the mindset and instead seek to grow from it. Reframe your perceived weaknesses as positives.

Taking my conversation with a mentee as an example; yes I’ve only been an external consultant for 18 months. But that means that only 18 months ago, I was…

  • attending approximately 60 client meetings a year, listening to their questions and concerns.
  • completing annual reviews with my team members, developing individual growth plans.
  • reading CVs, undertaking interviews and making hiring decisions.
  • processing Letters of Authorities and authoring suitability reports.
  • undertaking product and fund research and developing cash flow modelling.
  • ‘agreeably disagreeing’ with financial planners relating to planning strategies.
  • working in a full-time employed role, managing a team of paraplanners, servicing clients, as well as studying for exams.
  • developing my firm’s internal processes and undertaking training, for example servicing vulnerable clients.

And then I reframed this to my mentee. What some may perceive as a weakness, my clients and the firms that I work with see as a real benefit and unique quality. It was only 18 months ago that I was doing the job that I am now being hired to fix. Whether that be to help coach employees through the CII exams, helping to upskill and develop in-house paraplanners, complete training sessions on the Consumer Duty or servicing Vulnerable Clients, or assisting those in that step-up to management positions.

My role is to make businesses more profitable. But I believe this is best achieved by investing into your people. Invest into your staff, they will provide a better and more efficient service to a firm’s clients. A better and more efficient service to clients will lead to greater referrals and therefore increase the business’ profitability.

Should you be a paraplanner looking to deal with an imposter mindset, feel free to reach out to me via LinkedIn. Alternatively, if you are an employer and wish to understand how we could work together to support your team, click below:

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Marie Patterson
Sam Patterson