What is your title at Progeny and what does your role entail?
Paraplanner. A large part of my role is centred around producing suitability reports, which provide bespoke recommendations to clients, based on their individual circumstances. This largely involves working alongside the adviser to discuss financial planning solutions and ensure the best outcome for the client is achieved. Working together, we ensure that the most appropriate recommendations are made and a key part of this is questioning each other’s decisions and opinions, to arrive at the best solution.
I attend client meetings to help demonstrate and build cashflow modelling solutions, which helps to give the client a visual picture of their future financial planning strategy. I also take the meeting notes, which allows the adviser to fully focus all their attention on the client. This helps to ensure that the client feels engaged (which is especially important when meetings are conducted virtually) and the adviser has less multitasking to do. It also allows me to build a relationship with clients, rather than simply reading their notes from a document, which helps ensure that the reports I write are much more personalised and tailored.
Another benefit of building relationships with clients is that I can liaise with them on behalf of the planner, if required, and they have confidence in working with me. This helps alleviate the adviser from some day-to-day duties and ensures a timely response and joined-up client experience.
How long have you worked in your field?
I have been in the paraplanning team at Progeny since summer 2019.
Have you always known (ie, since childhood, school) this was the area for you or did this develop over time?
Definitely not! Up until my A-level results day I was on track to go to medical school in London to become a doctor. Having dropped a grade, my offer was rescinded. Instead, I headed to the University of Newcastle where I studied a degree in Economics and Maths. To this day, I still think it was a blessing as I realised that a financial route was much better suited to me, as well as deciding that I didn’t have the stomach for a medical career!
Why did you choose this profession?
I knew I wanted a career that was eventually client facing. I applied for various jobs, such as consultancy roles, straight out of university that would have fit the bill. I was lucky enough to have a brief conversation with Neil Moles, CEO, where he invited me to do some work experience. I enjoyed my time and it confirmed that I had a strong interest in pursuing a financial services career. After further conversations with another Progeny director, where I found out more about the progression opportunities and Progeny’s Adviser Academy, my decision was made.
Tell us a bit about the education and qualifications you need to do your job.
Although there is no specific qualification required to become a paraplanner, most firms would expect you to be at least working towards being RQF Level 4 qualified. The most popular of these qualifications is the CII’s Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning, which I achieved just over a year ago.
I am now working towards my Level 6 Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning, which once achieved and combined with five years’ of industry experience, will mean I can apply for Chartered status.
In addition to the qualifications, what further skills, experience and attributes do you think make for a good Paraplanner?
I initially joined Progeny as an administrator before working my way up to the more technical roles of associate paraplanner and paraplanner. Spending time as an administrator allowed me to build the foundations for my current role, so when I formulate reports for example, it means that I have a good knowledge of the processes behind implementing it.
The traditional paraplanning role involves liaising directly with financial planners but my role has also progressed to include attending client meetings. Excellent communication and organisational skills are therefore essential to help create a seamless working relationship with the planner and to be able to explain technical concepts clearly to clients.
Numerical, analytical and literacy skills are also required to analyse a client’s financial position and prepare coherent suitability reports.
What other routes through education/experience might people take to reach your role?
Attending university before entering a paraplanning role is definitely not essential, however, my three years provided me with a solid background in economics and the financial markets and enhanced my mathematical skills. Equally, I think heading straight into a financial advice firm from school is also a great route and provides an extra three years’ worth of industry experience.
What advice would you give to anyone wishing to follow in your career footsteps?
I would suggest gaining as much experience as possible and never saying no to an opportunity. Embrace as many opportunities outside of your standard role as possible, to broaden your knowledge and expand your experience. Also, no question is a silly question. Ask lots of questions and learn as much as possible in your early days, as it will pay off in the long term.
What do you see as the next steps in your career?
I plan to continue sitting exams to build and solidify my technical knowledge and have begun taking Advanced Diploma exams with my second, AF7, in September.
My ultimate goal is to move into an advisory role, eventually building up my own client bank, whilst achieving Chartered status. Here at Progeny, we have our own Adviser Academy, which aims to nurture the company’s young talent and provide them with the training and mentorship to become the planners of the future. This is something that I hope to be able to take advantage of in the next step of my career, as the wealth of knowledge available at Progeny is an opportunity not to be missed out on.
Any last words of wisdom you’d like to add?
Get straight into sitting your exams. They’re a great way to expand your knowledge, especially if you are starting in a non-technical role, and qualifications are likely to be required for career progression.