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Does experience trump Level 6 qualification in ‘real world’ paraplanning?

11 March 2019

Over half of paraplanners say aspiring to chartered status is not necessary, according to a recent Professional Paraplanner para-meters survey. However, 36% believe all paraplanners should seek to become chartered.

Asked whether all paraplanners should aspire to chartered status rather than be content with the certificate or diploma, 55% of respondents said paraplanners could be content with a certificate or diploma and building their experience, rather than attain chartered status.

One paraplanner explained to Professional Paraplanner: “I don’t think [chartered] is necessary to do the job. I’ve come across paraplanners who have all the qualifications on paper but can’t think in real world terms to save their lives. Learning exams to pass exams is a completely different skill to using it on an individual basis for real clients.”

Fellow respondents echoed the importance of experience over qualifications. One said: “Exams are no substitute for experience on the job. Those who wish to develop to this level should be supported in doing so, however it should not be mandatory by any stretch.”

Another added: “I’m diploma qualified and feel I get more from working and applying knowledge to clients’ individual cases than I can from doing further exams. The proof is in the pudding, not a certificate saying I can take exams. I am constantly evolving and developing in the real world of planning and not from a case study in a text book.”

Role and aspirations

The general consensus was that the level of qualification attained was felt to be a personal choice and should never be a mandatory requirement. Many felt that the need to be chartered depended greatly upon the role and aspirations of the individual paraplanner.

One respondent pointed out: “It’s a personal choice. I do believe all paraplanners should be diploma status, but there is nothing wrong with being content with that, nor with striving to achieve chartered or fellowship status. But company remuneration packages should take this into account accordingly.”

The view was shared by another paraplanner, who said charted status was not for everyone and while some paraplanners would be happy doing their role and going home, others would strive to achieve more, but to get a “good balance in an office you need both types of people”.

Chartered benefits the profession

From an individual point of view one paraplanner flagged the benefit they had seen in their own circumstances: “I have achieved chartered status and it’s hard work but completely worth it. I can see the difference in my knowledge and quality of work compared with the other paraplanners that I work with.”

Another added: “I think ambition and challenging yourself is a very important part of this job and thus Level 6 is a great bar that many of us should aim for.”

Amongst those who were firmly in favour of paraplanners striving to achieve chartered status, many felt it would benefit not just individuals but the wider industry.

“As the role of paraplanner is more focused on technical knowledge than previously, I believe the continuance to chartered level is beneficial to the individual, company and the industry. It shows an employer and a client that the paraplanner has the knowledge and technical ability above that of an administrator.”

Others said paraplanners should look to gain the highest qualification possible “to give the best possible outcome or solution for their clients.”

And seeking to attain higher qualifications should not be restricted to paraplanners, as another respondent pointed out: “I think everyone who works in this profession should look to achieve the highest status and technical knowledge.”

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