I never really had a plan as to how I was going to get there and I was always keeping my ear to the ground for a “trainee planner” role. In the meantime, I worked my way through administration and Paraplanner roles, picking up exams as I went along.
What I have found is that the knowledge and qualifications required to be Paraplanner and a Financial Planner are actually very similar, but the skills are very different. Paraplanning is a very technical and analytical role, which requires good written communication skills. Whereas planning needs much more empathy. It is almost impossible to pick up the skills necessary to be a planner, while in a Paraplanning role.
Now I’ve moved from Paraplanning to Financial Planning it has been strange not to spend most of my day writing suitability reports and instead spend the time with clients and writing up meeting notes. The transition has been a steep learning curve but I have enjoyed the last four months in a new Financial Planning role and learned a number of lessons.
In my last Paraplanning role, I’d chase my planner for the reports back and he warned me that I’d soon understand his challenges of juggling priorities, including checking reports and contact from clients. I feel I owe him a public apology; he was right. I am re-doing my to do list on a daily basis at the very least, as clients email in, leads call in and draft reports come back from our Paraplanner. It is a constant re-jigging of priorities while learning a lot of new skills.
For anyone else looking to become a Financial planner, my first piece of advice would be to be patient in finding the opportunity that is right for you and your career. Finding the right company and team is just as important as finding the right role. When I’d been speaking to peers in the profession about my career, there was a common theme in finding a small company. Much of my career has been spent at large national businesses and while that is right for some people, it does not work for others.
As well as finding a great company, I have also found a great boss. She is a fantastic role model to work with and for. The profession has a very limited number of women and I have been fortunate enough to find someone with such ambition, positivity and focus. My boss has a unique outlook on life and is a joy to work with. We share passions in wanting to make positive changes to the profession; bringing inclusivity and closing the advice gap.
I am incredibly grateful that I have found a role where I wake up on a Monday morning looking forward to go into the office. That should be everyone’s goal.
Chloé Moran is a Chartered Financial Planner at Rose & North Financial Planning, London. These are her personal views.