Pippa Oldfield, assistant manager and chartered paraplanner at Mazars Financial Planning, is the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment’s Paraplanner of the Year 2020. Financial Adviser caught up with her after her award.
What made you decide to become a paraplanner?
I discovered paraplanning by accident. After redundancy in 2009 in the aftermath of the financial crash, I was looking for a new career. While temping for a product provider I came across paraplanning through my contact with IFAs.
I was intrigued and, after quizzing paraplanners about their role, I had a strong instinct the paraplanner’s skillset would be a really good fit for my analytical mind and love of writing.
What do you love most about the job?
Paraplanning is so fulfilling. I love playing a key role in the advice process, getting to know a client’s life, goals and motivations and then using critical thinking and technical insight to put together a plan that helps them get to where they want to be, sometimes fulfilling goals they might not have thought possible before.
Has it been challenging to do your role during lockdown?
Mazars had embraced an agile working culture well before lockdown, so we had all the technology and support in place to make the working from home transition so much easier when the pandemic hit. The paraplanning role lends itself to working from home.
That said, I also help coach and mentor some of our graduate trainee planners. While Microsoft Teams is a great tool for collaboration, it is not the same as being together in the office and learning through observing each other.
How do you feel to be the CISI paraplanner of the year?
My motivation for taking part in the competition was to challenge and push myself out of my comfort zone. The CISI award is one of the highest professional accolades, so I was blown away to actually win it.
I put a lot of work into my submission, which was such a worthwhile learning experience, and has instilled in me a new sense of confidence in my skills. I’m also keen to use this as an opportunity to promote paraplanning and encourage more people into the profession.
What advice might you give to a newcomer?
• Talk to other paraplanners about their role.
This encouraged me to pursue it as a career. The paraplanning community is so welcoming and supportive, and there are lots of online forums for newcomers to engage with, including the Paraplanners’ Assembly Big Tent and the Personal Finance Society’s Paraplanner HQ.
• Be prepared to put in some graft.
There is no ‘official’ qualification standard for paraplanners, but by its nature it’s a technical role. Exams are the best way to build that knowledge, along with job experience. The Level 4 diploma is the minimum benchmark, but more paraplanners are working towards chartered status and beyond.
• Don’t put yourself under too much pressure.