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Paraplanners – It’s time to lean in

9 October 2019

Michelle Hoskin recently ran a Paraplanner Masterclass in Australia. Here she talks about the experience, why paraplanners should have confidence in their abilities, and three key things that make for top performing paraplanners.

As I approached the closing section of my presentation on day one at the AFA united conference in Adelaide, Australia (28–30 August), I leant forward towards the crowd and asked all of the paraplanners in the room to raise their hands. As I looked out across the sea of faces less than 10 paraplanners actually raised their hands… despite there being over 30 in the room… but why?

Were they not proud of what they do? No way.

Where they unsure if I was talking to them? Maybe.

Or were they just lacking in confidence? Absolutely!

In all of the work that I have done in this magical profession, confidence in the paraplanners who so proudly own their roles will be one of the key cards to play in the global positioning of the value that this group of highly skilled and capable professionals brings to financial services.

But I let it go… I held back on calling them out. But not for long!

The next day I delivered a Paraplanner Masterclass to a room full (approx. 30) paraplanners all of whom proudly wore ‘introverts unite’ t-shirts and huddled together like they were lifelong friends. The buzz in the room was overwhelming and I felt honoured and privileged to have been invited to join them to share with them what I knew and what I realised later would be, for some; life changing insights.

… and true to form I called them out! I made them tell me why they didn’t raise their hands when I asked them to the day before. As expected, the innate introvert coupled with a genuine lack of confidence in their ability to hold their own was the cause of hiding behind their note pads.

And here lies the problem. I think it is safe to say, whilst deep down we all love them dearly, the planner and adviser community would never pass up an opportunity to raise their hands when asked. And the ingrained ego, confidence, passion and an overarching pride for what they do will sadly be one the contributing factors to paraplanners continuing to be seen as the ‘understudy’ the ‘administrator’ at the side of the planners and advisers themselves.

But this doesn’t have to be the case. It can change but we have to be ‘united’ just as the Paraplanner Pulse community now understand.

The Paraplanner Standard™ was designed for many reasons but for me one of the main reasons was to help give paraplanners a leg up to make their mark and be rewarded with a level of credibility and respect earned from achieving a level of excellence equal to or exceeding that of planners and advisers.

So, what differentiates a ‘Certified International Professional Paraplanner™’ (CIPP) from an everyday paraplanner?

 In my recent article ‘Build Your Confidence’ I shared my thoughts around confidence as the killer skill. But let’s take a deeper dive into what else it takes to achieve top spot.

  • Passion: The UK is well on their way to establishing professionalism at an academic and technical level within paraplanning but Certified International Professional Paraplanners™ (CIPP) demonstrate a hunger for the skills and attributes that will set them apart. In addition, paraplanners at this level of excellence don’t live in the bubble of their immediate surroundings, they strive to build a world that exits so far into the future that many of their professional colleagues think they are insane.
  • Collaboration: The best outcomes are achieved when key skills and knowledge are leveraged through the art of collaboration. Deliberate teamwork and creative communication will support paraplanners and their teams who are working together to unlock the potential that lies within. Working in isolation will only achieve a level of value which is one dimensional. Paraplanners working at this level of excellence can demonstrate a natural instinct to seek council, brainstorm through ideas and present ideals at all levels.
  • Determination: I guess you could batch this with confidence but for me it’s so much more. Confidence will get you so far but determination will take you all the way and when a paraplanner operates at this level of drive they earn their stipes tenfold and then are repaid with the respect and rewards they deserve. Internationally certified paraplanners are seen as providing a valuable contribution to the team, the client journey and the business as a whole. They challenge, they push back, the come up with new ideas and they won’t settle for ‘just because’ if they know there is a better way to do something. They won’t only find it, they will implement it.

More information on the standard can be found here – and a short Q&A video here.