If you are good at paraplanning you can find you become swamped with tasks. Then it’s time to get things back in order, says Michelle Hoskin, MD of Standards international
(First published in the July/August edition of professional Paraplanner)
By nature, financial advisers and financial planners are mavericks Not in a bad way – in fact, if they were any other way they probably wouldn’t be so great with their clients. Their ability to think on their feet and bounce from one conversation (or drama) to another (depending on the client) makes them who they are… BUT… it doesn’t make them the most organised or the easiest people for paraplanners to work for.
We all know that ‘para’ means ‘beside’ or ‘alongside’, but sometimes financial advisers both dominate the relationship with their paraplanners and dictate the way that things get done.
It is very rare that I meet a financial adviser or financial planner who has award-winning organisational skills, which means that I always encourage paraplanners to take the lead role in setting the standard and deciding how stuff gets done.
Be warned, though… this is no easy task. Financial advisers are hard-wired and skilled in ways of working they have maintained for decades, so you are going to have to stand your ground and prove that, as we all know, there is always a more effective and efficient way of working.
The chances are, if you are any good at your job, requests for tasks to be completed will come in thick and fast. Each task is likely to require a different set of deliverables with a different set of timescales, so it is essential that you understand why the task is being requested and what the desired outcomes are. At this point I don’t need to remind you that – once you have the confidence and are given the autonomy to actually do the job you are being paid for – you shouldn’t need step-by-step instructions on how to complete it.
Paraplanners are doers and people-pleasers by nature but DO NOT under any circumstances ever forget that managing your time effectively is an art form. It takes skill, practice and dedication to get it right. It may require a different mindset but it will support you in the achievement of every task, regardless of size.
But, remember, you are not super-human You can’t stop time or give yourself an extra 48 hours a week (although I know at times you wish you could), so never over-commit and then under-deliver on your promises. Sometimes there is simply too much work to do in the time you have been given to do it. No one wins and, worse, trust breaks down. Be honest and open and work within the parameters that have been set; always do your best but do not over-work yourself; and never, ever take on the work of another member of the team if their failure to complete the task stems from a lack of care, skills or ability.
So, always remember:
- Being busy doesn’t mean you are being productive
- There is always a more effective and efficient way of doing something – so strive to find it
- Learn to love lists and structures
- We are not designed to multi-task or multi-focus – so don’t even attempt it
- Always try to start the day with some planning time– set out your stall and get your head around the day to come; decide on the key things you need to do before the end of the day
- Learn to love a deadline – everyone needs a deadline, so if one has not been set for a task or project you are working on, either get one or make one up.
Handovers and delegation that are done at top speed or which are full of holes are useless. Adequate time should be allocated to the handing over of key tasks. If you are not clear about what needs to be done or you don’t have all the information or the full picture… kick it back until you can move confidently to complete the work you have been asked to do.