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What’s holding paraplanners back?

24 December 2018

Michelle Hoskin decries the attitude to paraplanning development she still witnesses amongst seemingly progressive financial advice firms

The financial services sector in general (and I am yet to be proved wrong) really still hasn’t got it!

This week, I had an email from a really nice guy (a paraplanner) who had attended one of my recent roadshow sessions. His email to me came following our general ‘it was nice to meet you’ follow up.

So far, nothing out of the ordinary, but it was what came next that literally blew me away; and not in a good way.

He shared with me how passionate he was about The Paraplanner Standard™ and how keen he was to raise his game further and push his personal development, and therefore his potential, to the max.

He was already undergoing a study plan towards level 6 (in his own time and at his own cost) and he felt the penultimate achievement that would demonstrate both the application of his knowledge and the all-round attributes needed to excel in his role was the international standard, so he was more than happy to personally fund his development further.

So far, so good… yeah, not quite!

He applied online, we sent him over the fee schedule, he activated his direct debit… winner! He was on a roll and chomping at the bit to get going.

THEN… he emailed me to say that despite his enthusiasm his firm was not willing to support him.

WHAT!!?? I read the email and hoped to goodness he was kidding… but it didn’t stop there.

He went on to tell us that his boss is a great planner, BUT doesn’t believe in developing his team outside of the academic base line qualifications (level 4) and has now stopped the team doing any further study in their own time AND at their own cost, because he feels that it would impact on their work. He says they are too busy and he needs their total focus on the role! #givemestrength (…and yes, that deserved a #)

Right, I get it; tired, exhausted and over worked/studied staff don’t always make for a happy business, but do we have any guesses on how this story is going to pan out?

Yep, you’re absolutely right… the thwarted Paraplanner will use his role to get practical experience and then he’ll be gone!

And quite right…

Planners are a different breed to Paraplanners – their learning style for starters, but then you have their approach to their role, their focus and need for ongoing professional development, and also their whole outlook on our magical profession.

Now, this story is as extreme as I have ever seen it and after 20 years in this business it literally did knock me for six. How sad!

So what can you do if you want to push your potential to the limits and strive to achieve global excellence?

  • Buy a copy of the standard. It costs £97. This document is your personal training and development plan.
  • Turn straight to The Role Profiles(Appendices 4, 5, 6 and 7) and check your current role against the Job Description in the standard. Address any cross overs or any areas of your current responsibilities which are not so clear for you. The tools in the standard will provide you with a great opportunity to enter in fruitful discussions with your adviser/planner or line manager. A word of warning… don’t be disheartened if they don’t understand exactly where you are coming from at this point. Hang on in there!
  • Complete The Training Needs Analysis (Appendix 9) and when you are doing this be honest. If you lie, you are only stunting your own growth. Remember no one is judging you.
  • Then grab yourself a copy of The Best Practice Training Programme™ (Appendix 10). Take it slow but start at the top and work your way through. By focusing on each section, you will be able to build a full picture of the business, what it is trying to achieve and then, most importantly, how you can leverage your genuine interest in the business and the roles within it to better understand how you can add more value to your own personal and professional growth.
  • When you get to the latter part of the programme use the outputs of The Training Needs Analysis (Appendix 9) and start to map out the areas of your technical knowledge, application and all-round abilities and attributes that you wish to develop further. This then becomes your own ‘whole person’ development plan and one which SHOULD NOT be only focused on academic knowledge.
  • Take the lead on your training and development plan. Own it! It’s yours! Your development and growth are no one’s responsibility but your own.
  • Request time with key people in the business. Sit down with your line manager and talk through your workings and the plan that you have put together.
  • HOPEFULLY… if you have got this far, you will have won them round! Your enthusiasm for the role and your growth will be sure to WOWW! them.


For more information on the standard go to:  http://standardsinternational.co.uk/certification/theparaplannerstandard/or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5nDBVA8f2w 

Professional Paraplanner