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4 top tips for attending development events

28 May 2019

Caroline Stuart, head of Technical Solutions at DB Wood and member of the Personal Finance Society board, provides some top tips for paraplanners looking to get the most from the industry’s paraplanner events and in particular, for those looking to persuade their bosses that they should attend. 

I’ve been paraplanning for a while now and I’m very lucky as I have got to meet lots of terrific paraplanners. I mostly meet them at things like the Personal Finance Society Purely Paraplanning Roadshows, the Paraplanners Powwow and other types of development events*.

Something I’ve come across quite a bit is paraplanners who are not ‘allowed’ to go to these sorts of things. More than once, I’ve heard a paraplanner say they’ve had to take a holiday to attend an event as their boss doesn’t let them go.

There are a couple of observations I have here; firstly, a paraplanner taking a holiday to attend a development event shows a high level of commitment to their learning, their career and their clients.

Secondly, you shouldn’t have to. Learning and development is a huge part of most professional careers, be it medicine, accountancy or financial planning. It is how we grow, learn and improve. So how can you demonstrate to your boss that it’s worth their while having you go to the event you want to attend?

Here are some suggestions to help you convince them it’s a great idea!

1. Make sure you have a Development Plan

We tell all our clients to make a Plan! Everyone has both strengths and areas they could improve and creating a development plan will help to identify these and put learning goals in place with realistic timescales to work on those improvement areas.

Once you have your development plan in place, you’ll know areas to focus on, the type of learning and training you’ll need and the right sort of events to meet that need.

2. Check your agenda

All events will publish an agenda outlining what subjects are being covered and who is presenting them. Quite often, the specific learning objectives are also given in advance.

Have a look through and see if there are sessions where you will learn new technical info, develop new skills or learn best practice ideas that are specific to your Development Plan.

3. Make a case for your event

If you find an event that is beneficial to your learning, fits in with your Development Plan, and will help you to improve your skills and knowledge, but you’re not sure you’re going to be allowed to go, what do you do? Answer – build yourself a business case for it and pitch it to the boss, you’ve got nothing to lose!

In your business case I would include:

• How you think the business will benefit from you going (particularly where there may be costs involved), for example, you’ll learn:

– knowledge in an area the company is looking to move into and does not have a subject matter expert for

– new skills that will help you to be more efficient in your role

– about new tech that will help make the business more efficient.

• How you think it will benefit clients; for example, you will learn new techniques to write better Plans and reports than your already amazing ones that are even more engaging to clients.

• How it benefits you in your role, linking it back to the areas of focus in your Development Plan.

In short, let the boss know what the return on their investment in you is going to be!

4. Feedback after the event

So you’ve created your Plan, found your event, pitched your case and you’re off to do some learning! Now, so that this isn’t the first and the last of them, always make sure you feedback to the boss on what you learnt and the benefit it will bring to the business. Relate it back to the reasons you gave in your pitch.

If after doing all of the above, you’re still struggling to convince them that it’s worth you going, why not ask them their reservations to see what they are and if there is any compromise available.

If you don’t feel that their reasons are actually that reasonable and there isn’t a compromise, then perhaps its time to vote with your feet and find an employer who values the amazing paraplanner you are; there are certainly plenty of them about!

Good luck and hopefully see you at the next event!

(* and don’t forget the free to attend, structured CPD, Professional Paraplanner Technical Insight Seminars – Ed)

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