Many people ‘fall’ into financial services, myself included.
After graduating with a qualification in business and marketing, I am not sure how I found myself working in an airport, but in a bid to escape the most unsociable of working hours, I joined a life company in the beautiful Cheshire countryside.
You may not believe it from my youthful appearance, but I’ve been in financial services for 20 years now, 17 of them in paraplanning.
If I am being honest, when I joined the paraplanning profession, I did not know it was even a profession to join.
I moved from that life company to an adviser business, then a financial planning practice.
Like many, I began as an administrator, passed some exams and then, bitten by the planning bug, I decided to see where this career could take me.
I am still finding out now.
I have gained qualifications along the way and occupied virtually every permutation of the in-house role, from trainee to senior paraplanner and then to manager.
Last year, I took the plunge and set up my own outsourced paraplanning business.
It felt like a huge leap, but was definitely the right thing for me.
Seven months into the outsourced life, I absolutely love it.
It is very different to being in-house and there are certainly things that I miss.
Client contact was a big part of my previous role and no longer seeing first-hand the difference your planner and you can make to a client’s life has been a big adjustment.
My clients now are obviously financial planners and advisers and I love helping them to help their clients.
While it is very different, there is still nothing more satisfying than hearing from a planner that the client really appreciated the work you did for them and the difference you made.
I have seen the role change and grow so much and, like many paraplanners, I cannot imagine wanting to do anything else.
Perhaps the reason is, as there is not really a standardised paraplanner role, how it fits into a business will largely depend on the needs of that business.
Paraplanners can often really influence their own destiny, shaping and developing their role in an organisation to best support clients and the business.
This builds huge amounts of loyalty, not just to the company they work for, but also to the profession itself.
Businesses that have embraced paraplanners often have them as key senior staff, sitting on investment committees, management teams and in other pivotal roles.
In my experience, where this is the case, the client experience is enhanced.
Planners are given the time to focus on maintaining a fantastic client relationship by leaving the ‘tech’ to the paraplanner, and when everyone takes ownership of their part of the client’s journey, the client receives the best service possible.