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Outsourced paraplanner profile: Aleksandra Sasin, Navigatus

11 November 2018

Aleksandra Sasin, founder & chief paraplanner, Navigatus stood up at the CISI paraplanner conference earlier this year and told how paraplanning had changed her life, not once but three times. Here, Fiona Bond describes Aleksandra’s journey

Like many of her fellow paraplanners, Aleksandra Sasin, founder of Navigatus, fell into paraplanning by chance, but says the profession has changed her life multiple times.

Polish-born Aleksandra arrived in England in 2004 with the aim of spending 12 months improving her English before returning home. She accepted an entry-level position at an insurance company, carrying out basic administrative tasks. However, that role turned into another role and months turned into years. As such, England became her home.

Aleksandra went on to join a life office and it was while working there that she read an article about paraplanning. It would be an article that would start her on the path to a whole new career. When the life office Aleksandra worked for was taken over, she found herself without a job but within three months, she landed her first paraplanning role at a firm local to where she lived.

Aleksandra describes that paraplanning role as “the first time I had a job that made me come alive.” It provided her with meaning and purpose and made the prospect of going to work on a Monday morning an exciting one, she says. This ‘Monday morning feeling’ has since become her key measure of happiness and job satisfaction.

Aleksandra credits the firm for offering her much support, encouragement and the autonomy to establish a paraplanning department.

It enabled her to discover and utilise her strengths, providing the perfect combination of technical knowledge and love of learning with a need to be creative.

Most importantly, becoming a paraplanner allowed Aleksandra to see first hand what a difference proper financial planning can make to people’s lives. She relished the opportunity to help people achieve financial freedom and fulfill their dreams.

Greater responsibility

A few years later, the firm offered Aleksandra extra responsibilities as part of its growth drive. As a result, she sat on the in-house investment committee and took a more active role in paraplanner training and recruitment.

She describes the opportunity to step outside her comfort zone and do something different as “exciting” and it was this learning curve that made her consider what other roles within the financial advice industry she could potentially turn her hand to.

By chance, Aleksandra found herself attending a Michelle Hoskin talk at a conference and it was here that she had her “lightbulb moment”, she says.

Michelle talked about making sure the business structure within a financial planning firm was correct, focusing on functions such as sales, compliance and finance. Significantly, she made reference to the position of technical manager and it was this role that would see Aleksandra’s life change once again.

Confident that the role of technical manager would add great value to the firm she worked for, she pitched them the idea and fortunately, the firm agreed.

This new role provided Aleksandra with new opportunities. As the company continued to grow, so too did Aleksandra’s knowledge, skills and confidence as a paraplanner, mentor and leader. “I was making a difference, not only to clients who have always been the ultimate focus of the business, but also the paraplanners I now looked after.”

However, the small but rapidly expanding firm soon got acquired by a much larger corporate player. While the change brought with it greater financial security, it also brought less positive aspects too including longer hours and much more travelling. The focus of the business had shifted and with it the culture. Aleksandra says she found the bureaucracy and office politics became an issue and while she still had great passion for paraplanning, she lost her zest for Monday mornings.

For Aleksandra, the key had always been to go to work and do something meaningful that made a difference to someone else. However, in this new landscape, life was speeding by.

It was a worrying episode concerning her daughter’s health that finally stopped Aleksandra in her tracks and made her reassess her work-life balance.

On reflection, she felt heavy guilt that the past 18 months had been spent in what she described as a “blur.” She made the decision to leave her job and start her own business.

Going solo

So, in 2017, she set up outsourced paraplanning firm Navigatus.

Setting up alone had always been Aleksandra’s dream, she says. But while she was happy and content at work, it had remained a dream. However, the changing events in her life made it finally feel like the right time to take the plunge. “I needed to breathe purpose back into my professional life and know that my work could add value and help clients.”

Giving up a well-paid corporate career to set up a her own paraplanning business meant Aleksandra could have greater control of her life and the direction it was taking.

While she admits the time since setting up the business has been the “most difficult and scariest” professionally, it has also been the most rewarding and enjoyable of her career to date.

While she continues to work long hours, still chasing the elusive perfect work/life balance, she is able to attend school events, collect her daughter from school and spend time with her family. It is these changes, she says, that have made a huge difference to her personally and professionally.

Now she feels she is doing work work that truly benefits the end client and makes a difference to the small firms she works with.

What’s more, she is on a mission to show other women that a fulfilling career within financial services is possible without having to sacrifice family and personal life.

The women who work with Aleksandra at Navigatus are testament to this; they chose flexibility and freedom over corporate positions and haven’t looked back.

Thus, for the third time, Aleksandra says, paraplanning has changed her life.

 

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