Paraplanners: Career & Qualifications

paraplanners career qualifications

Paraplanners: Career & Qualifications

I have been around paraplanners all of my career. I began my career working in a paraplanner role, then managing teams of paraplanners and now through my roles as a consultant with The Patterson Group and Head of Mentoring at The Paraplanner Club. I also interact with financial planners and business owners from all around the country, Whomever I speak with, it’s very common for exams and qualifications to come up in conversation, particularly when speaking with paraplanners.

What exams and qualifications should I do next? How should I revise for exams? How important are qualifications and exams for a paraplanner’s career development?

And it’s the last question that is often hardest to answer, because I think qualifications are important for paraplanner’s career development, but not for the reason that you might think.

First things first, I don’t believe qualifications automatically mean competency or lead to a promotion. But, I can hear you say, ‘qualifications mean you will improve your technical knowledge right?’ Yes, to an extent. In my experience, whilst there is no doubting exams do help individuals to learn technical knowledge, unless a paraplanner continues with regular CPD or works in and around that technical area, this knowledge can disappear over time, especially as regulations change.

So then, if it’s not for technical knowledge, why do I think that qualifications can help with a paraplanner’s career development? I believe that qualifications help to bring a level of credibility. Can you gain credibility through other means? Absolutely! But having a qualification, whether level four or level six, can be seen as a badge of honour that demonstrates you have dedicated hundreds, if not thousands, of hours (normally out of working hours) to improving your knowledge and investing into yourself. It’s that demonstration of dedication that can help with paraplanner’s career development, instead of just having a qualification to your name.

I did a poll on Linkedin to gather the thoughts of others on this matter. Do you believe exams are important for a paraplanner’s career development and if so, up to what level? Of the 176 votes, 45% said ‘yes until level 6/Chartered’, 49% said ‘yes until level 4/Diploma’ and 6% said ‘little/no importance’.

The results of the poll weren’t too surprising and I was inundated with messages that supported these results. But what did stand out to me was of the 6% who voted little/no importance (10 votes), four had achieved Chartered or Fellow qualifications. A further three had achieved Diploma qualifications. It would seem that I’m not alone in thinking that qualifications alone don’t automatically equate to career development, even if they can help demonstrate a dedication to personal development.

If you’re a paraplanner reading this, you may be thinking, if qualifications alone aren’t the answer to career development – what is? Here are three other tips for you that can help with a paraplanner’s career development:

 

1 – Where would you like to develop?

My first tip in terms of helping with a paraplanner’s career development is asking one simple question: where would you like to develop? This could be in relation to your profession job role, or a personal goal!

I’ve always found that when you specify your destination, it’s easier to identify the steps to get there and you begin to dedicate time and energy in the right places. So, first step is specify your destination. This is where communities such as The Paraplanner Club and NextGen Planners can come in hugely helpful, as you can draw on the experiences of others to help plot your career!

 

2 – What ‘image’ would you like to project?

A second tip for career development is your image. Now this isn’t physical appearance. What I mean by ‘image’ is the thought that people think when they hear your name. Are you known for being a hard worker? Do people see you as someone that can spin multiple plates at once? Are you seen as the go-to person for a particular area?

Concentrating and working on your ‘image’ can help you gain the recognition that you deserve from those around you, and in my experience can help hugely with a paraplanner’s career development.

 

3 – What is your niche?

And my final tip relates to what your niche is. This is one of the quickest ways that you can improve the ‘image’ you project. If you dedicate time and energy into developing a specialist area, you will quickly find that you become the go-to person within a firm for a certain thing. You will find other paraplanners, financial planners and even directors will come to you for your perspective on this area, which will help gain exposure to those that can unlock different career opportunities for you.

Your niche area could be a technical area, such a trusts or pensions, or it could be in relation to the servicing of vulnerable clients or the implementation of the Consumer Duty. It’s not really for anyone else to tell you what your ‘niche’ could be, but it’s something for you to consider.

 

As always, my inbox on LinkedIn is always open. Alternatively, should you wish for ongoing support and guidance, why not sign up for The Paraplanner Club?

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Marie Patterson
Sam Patterson