For Paraplanning the big topic of discussion has been professional standards.
Exams measure part of your capability, but are not the whole picture. I was pleased to see the wider range of Paraplanning skills highlighted throughout the debate. This has not gone unnoticed by the professional bodies and will be incorporated in the various 2017 events.
One of my favourite things about the Paraplanning community is that it is inclusive. People are not shut out of events because they aren’t ‘members’ or do things differently. We have people just starting their journey sharing with people who have been practicing Paraplanners for decades. It is important that any standard (be that compulsory, optional, or aspirational) does not affect this unity.
Whilst I think that we are unlikely to see a formal ‘standard’ for Paraplanning, I think there are three excellent outcomes:
1) Paraplanners have taken ownership of the debate. They are the ones with the main interest and it is driven by a hunger to be better. Other stakeholders have been involved (employers and professional bodies being the main ones), but they have not been driving the conversation.
2) There is an increased recognition that it’s not what you know – it’s what you do with it. A key role of a Paraplanner is to apply and explain the things that we know. Exams demonstrate that we know the things, but not that we can apply and explain them. The discussions about what a standard could look like took this into account.
3) The acquisition of these skills is now a part of the agenda for professional bodies and interested parties. It is no longer enough to deliver a program of recycled adviser sales pitches. Paraplanners demand content designed for them that covers the how and why – not just the technical detail. We will always want to know the detail behind the headlines, but we also need to learn how best to explain this. Expect to see, read and hear more on this in 2017.
So what about 2017?
I want to see Paraplanners continue to take ownership of their future.
As you know by now, I am a Paraplanner who believes in reinvestment and I’ve urged the Paraplanning community to see where they could share as individuals to develop others.
I want to continue seeing them take the lead in sharing ideas, concepts and investing in others. We should be doing this within our firms (this is something I am working on at EQ Investors) and also in the wider financial planning community (not just Paraplanners).
So if you are a Paraplanner, why not go to some of the main PFS and CISI events, get involved with Nextgenplanners, or share at the Paraplanners PowWows.
If you are a financial planner/adviser, why not encourage your Paraplanners to do this. Sharing ideas and techniques is good for business and good for the financial planning profession.
Dan Atkinson FPFS APP ACSI
Chartered Financial Planner
Head of Technical