Thursday, 01 September 2016 10:05

Paraplanner standard not about 'blowing our own trumpets'

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Alan Gow DipPFS APP ACSI, co-owner of Argonaut Paraplanning in Reading Alan Gow DipPFS APP ACSI, co-owner of Argonaut Paraplanning in Reading

The debate about introducing a new professional Paraplanning standard is intensifying as a leading Paraplanner has stepped forward to defend the proposal.

A form of Paraplanner ‘kitemark’ has been discussed for some time and Paraplanners involved with the Powwow movement have begun developing the idea. Read more here.

Financial Planning Today last week revealed that the CISI was due to hold further talks with counterparts at the CII over moves to develop a Paraplanning standard.

Mike Malkiewicz DipFA, owner of Peterborough firm Clear Paraplanning, wrote to FP Today, after this news was reported, to speak against the initiative. Read his article here.

But Alan Gow DipPFS APP ACSI, co-owner of Argonaut Paraplanning in Reading, and co-organiser of the London Paraplanner Powwows, has told FP Today the new standard is important not only for current Paraplanners, but to help attract new blood.

Below is his take on the Paraplanning debate.

To react and comment to the piece on Twitter use the hashtag #Paraplanningdebate


Paraplanning debate – Alan Gow’s views

Having read Mike Malkiewicz’s recent article against the introduction of a Paraplanning standard, I had to agree with his views that Paraplanning is a function of financial advising, not a separate profession, and that there is no need for a new Paraplanning qualification.

Yet I support the introduction of a standard.

Whilst there are a number of significant hurdles to overcome before a standard becomes a reality, I feel strongly that we need a standard.

This isn’t about Paraplanners blowing their own trumpets. It’s about motivating people to learn, not about pointing out how well we’ve already done.

A profession is defined as an occupation that ‘involves prolonged training and a formal qualification’. Paraplanning is a relatively new part of the financial planning profession, at least in name, yet it does not have the agreed training and qualifications needed to allow someone to accurately describe themselves as a Paraplanner.

We need a standard not only for the Paraplanners already working in this industry, but also to help attract new Paraplanners. We need to define a path for people coming into the role. Demand for Paraplanners is huge.

This week for example we have turned away at least one new business enquiry every day – we simply can’t find the staff. Yet there are students leaving school and university who will be suited to this role.

They just don’t know it exists. Like any career (as opposed to a ‘job’), people want to know where they fit in, how they can get started, how they can progress and where their future might lie.

To do that, you have to define a path and provide resource. I don’t believe we can do that without a standard. We need to set out what a Paraplanner is, what one does and how you progress in a role that is no longer seen only as stepping stone into financial advice.

I don’t believe the standard should be solely qualification based or that any new qualification is needed. The ability to pass exams is in itself no demonstration of the ability to apply that knowledge.

The standard should encourage trainee Paraplanners, junior and senior Paraplanners alike.

Whilst a senior Paraplanner should be expected to be at least level 4 qualified, for any standard to be widely recognised and used, it needs to be inclusive of Paraplanners at all levels.

For this reason I feel a focus on CPD and on-going learning is hugely important in any Paraplanning standard. It also needs the backing of both the PFS and the CISI, as these bodies have the reach to get the message out there.

I would encourage Paraplanners of all abilities to therefore get involved in helping to shape that message.

To react and comment to the piece on Twitter use the hashtag #Paraplanningdebate


Last modified on Thursday, 01 September 2016 11:03
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