1. Alan Gow – Argonaut Paraplanning
Like a lot of people in the paraplanner community, I fell into paraplanning by accident. At school I’d enjoyed science and so, when I went to University, I didn’t think twice about taking a science course. But before I’d finished my degree, I’d realised I really wanted to work in an environment which was more fast-moving. After graduating I worked in shops for a while, before finally deciding to find a desk job that paid more than £4 an hour (this was 1998!) The biggest employer in Reading at the time was Prudential. I took an admin role in the complaints department there, progressed to being a case reviewer, and then moved to a company that did the same thing on an outsourced basis for big banks and insurance companies. Most of my colleagues were contractors, who spent the week away from home, working wherever they were needed. A few of us were employed staff and when we were made redundant, I knew that contracting away from home wasn’t for me.
The Lightbulb Moment
By this point in my career I’d realised that there were roles where my analytical mind-set and slightly pedantic nature were actually valued! I investigated paraplanning and underwriting as options, eventually taking a role as a paraplanner working for one adviser in a small firm. I felt like I’d finally found what I was ‘meant to be doing’, that paraplanning is a natural fit for how my brain works. I really enjoy reviewing a client’s details and working out how to help them live the lives they want, especially for people retiring after many years of work. I get a lot of job satisfaction from writing up a financial plan, explaining complex issues to people in a way they can understand and showing them how they can meet their goals.
2. Martin Green – Chadney Bulgin chartered financial panning
Having joined the profession as a junior administrator, with the original aim of showcasing my skillset in software and technology, hoping for an opportunity to arise in the I.T department, I instead discovered a passion for financial services.
My initial paraplanning experience didn’t arise until I started in a role as a pensions’ analyst. With my pure focus on pre and post retirement, pensions became an area of expertise, which has continued to serve me well for many years.
Slowly increasing my knowledge and experience by working with financial planners and taking professional exams, I was able to combine my software skills with my knowledge of financial planning processes, thereby increasing my efficiency.
Since joining Chadney Bulgin as their first paraplanner recruit, I have developed the role, making paraplanning an integral part of the business which has led to an immediate improvement in business levels, efficiency and client outcomes.
The bigger picture – getting involved
Having influenced Chadney Bulgin to see that the benefits of building a paraplanning department and function for the company would be the best way forward, I can honestly say it has been both an exciting and rewarding journey seeing the department grow and for paraplanning to be recognised as a core part of the business today.
I have been fortunate in having been given great support and encouragement during my career to date. Having experienced this, nurturing others and giving back to the profession is a continuing aim of mine.
It’s all about getting involved with the wider paraplanning community, encouraging others to share their ‘knowledge’ and ‘best practice’. For me this has been enthralling and a real game changer was representing the PFS, helping them to provide support to their paraplanning members. It’s great to be part of this committee and striving to encourage a new age of paraplanners to fuel the growth and development of the financial planning profession.
Paraplanning truly is a fulfilling role. Every day is different, whether helping others, creating spreadsheets/reports or discussing various solutions with financial planners for their clients.
THE BIG CHALLENGES
So what’s next? How do we take paraplanning to the next level?
Looking ahead, my view is that technology will play an increasingly big part in enhancing the paraplanning role and its impact on business in future. This is not something which should be feared but embraced by financial planning professionals and businesses alike. The benefits it brings are considerable. The efficient integration of technology can free up valuable time for us to focus on the huge benefits which paraplanners bring to the whole financial planning process and to help us deliver even more effective client and business solutions.