The CISI Paraplanner Conference focused on technical knowledge with some practical skills. The HowWow focused on the skills you need to write reports that read well, meet the rules and are efficient to create. These events were designed and delivered (at least in part) by Paraplanners. I think this is why both were phenomenal successes.
So why did these people gather together and invest their valuable time (and their employer's time - and money)? Simple. They wanted to improve outcomes for their clients. They wanted to share ideas and find out how other people are doing things. Paraplanning is a community and it has been a pleasure to invest in others.
The editor of Financial Planning Today website and magazine Kevin O’Donnell asked recently in a column why there hasn't been any discussion about the future of the Paraplanning profession at these events? This is a good question but I think it misses the point of these events.
In the last few years, we have talked about the need to move from industry to profession. We have reminded planners and Paraplanners how a good Paraplanning input can benefit clients. For many, this is preaching to the converted. These events are designed to provide value to these types of firm. Focusing on skills and knowledge is the best use of their time. Coming together with other like-minded professionals encourages professionalism as a side benefit.
This doesn't mean that I think there is no place for discussing the future of Paraplanning. I just think that this type of conference isn't the right context and to an extent, we just need to 'get on with it'. Events that are free from the bias of professional bodies and providers (like the main PowWow in September) are a good place to address this - if Paraplanners (not advisers, providers or press) want to.
We don't need a new cheerleader for the profession. We just need Paraplanners to shout about it and encourage each other along. This is happening and I would love to see more Paraplanners speaking up, coming along side, and helping raise the quality of what we do.
There's a proverb in the bible that sums it up quite well for me. “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” - Proverbs 27:17
Dan Atkinson FPFS APP ACSI, Head of Technical, Chartered Financial Planner, at EQ Investors