The advice industry would benefit from helping paraplanners develop specialisms in their fields, Kate Morris, winner of CISI’s paraplanner of the year award has said.
In an interview with FTAdviser, Morris, who is a senior paraplanner at Bristol-based Paradigm Norton Financial Planning, said she does not think there is enough support currently out there for paraplanners looking to specialise in a certain area of financial planning.
Morris herself specialises on care in later life and personal injury awards and as a result has a lot of face-to-face time with clients and their caregivers.
When it comes to specialist areas like this, she would like to see more of a focus on the actual practical application of the role rather than just exams on the subject matter.
“When I talk to other paraplanners about long term care, there's fear in their faces,” Morris said.
“The exam itself is not a difficult exam but you still don't know how you're going to apply the knowledge to clients. It's very overwhelming.”
This is partly the reason why Morris loves her job. Knowing that she has helped a client’s family during a difficult time is something she finds very rewarding.
“It can be very emotional,” Morris admitted.
One of the first cases she worked on when she started out was for an elderly lady who had lost capacity and was in a nursing home.
The client’s care was managed through her daughter who Morris said “absolutely adored her mother”.
“It was a very hard thing for her to deal with and I remember we did all of this work - we did the recommendations, and we were in the process of implementing our recommendations when the client passed away,” Morris recalled.
“The daughter called me up to tell me and I managed to keep myself held together whilst on the phone. But I was also about 12 weeks pregnant at the time and as soon as I got off that call, I just burst into tears.
“I've got a bit more hardy since then,” Morris admitted.
“Unfortunately, it is part and parcel of the job role when you're working with long term care clients that they do tend to pass away within sort of two to five years.
“So you get a bit more used to that happening, and you come to expect it so that you don't get so emotional. And it helps when you don't have a lot of hormones.”
In October of this year, Morris was awarded paraplanner of the year by CISI with the judges commending her for her "great passion for the paraplanning role and the added value that the profession can offer to clients with a wide range of needs and complex combination of needs".