Firing line  

'I don’t say I’m a paraplanner, people don’t know what it is’

'I don’t say I’m a paraplanner, people don’t know what it is’
Liam Chapman-Lyes, paraplanner at Succession Wealth

Liam Chapman-Lyes has been paraplanning for five years, it’s a role he loves but in his view it is in need of a rebrand. 

The Milton Keynes-based paraplanner told FTAdviser that despite ample opportunity within the profession, it is one that suffers from a perception problem. 

“When I go to social gatherings or parties, and someone asks me what I do, I don’t say I’m a paraplanner because people just don’t know what that is,” Chapman-Lyes said. 

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“I just say I work in financial planning and then if they probe more I say it's the research and report side and I work with financial planners.” 

In Chapman-Lyes' view, renaming the role would help attract fresh talent into the sector and would better reflect the work done. 

His preference would be to opt for ‘technical financial planner’. 

“At the moment, as an industry there is an image problem with paraplanning," he said.

"You could be a new associate paraplanner with little experience, you could have a hybrid role where you’re doing half administration/half technical and there is no real defined career path if you wanted to stay in that technical role.

“So to make it sound more appealing it needs to be broken down, with a technical financial planner role created that people who want to stay in a technical role could work towards."

Chapman-Lyes is currently a paraplanner with Succession Wealth having previously worked in retail banking for Royal Bank of Scotland and Metro Bank. 

He started paraplanning in 2017 when he took up a trainee paraplanner/financial planner role in a small IFA having just obtained his level 4 financial planning diploma.

But for now moving from paraplanner to financial planner does not appeal to Chapman-Lyes. 

However, he said this does not mean he is not interested in career progression and wants to challenge the idea that moving from paraplanner to financial planner is the best progression route.

Earlier this year, research by Quilter showed that 41 per cent of male paraplanners would like to become financial advisers, while 21 per cent said they might like to. 

But Chapman-Lyes would prefer to remain on the technical side of the industry and believes there is plenty of opportunity to be had here. 

Over lockdown he studied for the level 6 diploma and achieved chartered status in January of this year. He has also recently been promoted to senior paraplanner at Succession. 

For Chapman-Lyes, it is the technical element of the role that really appeals to him and he said nothing brings him joy like a case that originally looks like a mess.

“I had one a few months ago. A husband and wife who had 16 plans between them including pensions as well as old investment legacy bonds.

I had to review all of them and it took absolutely ages, but in the end the couple became our client. So it was worth it."