Do you want to work your way up the career ladder in the financial planning industry? If so, this blog post is for you. It will give you a step by step guide on how to get that promotion from paraplanner to financial planner.
First things first though, let's answer some basic questions about the paraplanner role.
What is a paraplanner?
A paraplanner is the person who helps with financial planning for people and companies. They are usually a member of staff in a financial planning firm and work closely with a financial planner to deliver the best possible advice to the client. Anyone can become a paraplanner but to become a paraplanner you'll want to have some basic qualifications, maybe a diploma of financial planning, and knowledge of personal finances and investments.
What does a paraplanner do in the financial planning industry?
Paraplanners may conduct investment product research, model the best financial strategy to present to the client, preparing a strategy paper, keep client files up to date with appropriate file notes and research papers, produce advice documents and implement advice after it has been accepted by the client. You are often also expected to be an expert in regulatory compliance in the financial services industry and expected to reflect that expertise in the way you handle client files and the advice documents you create. As a paraplanner you may need to work alone or you might be part of a paraplanning team.
Documents and software tools
In paraplanning, you will spend a lot of your time preparing Statement of Advice and Record of Advice documents and you'll be expected to become an expert in the software tools that can help you with these tasks. Often your expertise in how to get the most out of this software is as valuable as your skills in investments, insurance and superannuation!
Your role in the financial planning business
As a paraplanner, you are the main protagonist in helping to pull together the financial plan for the client. The financial planner owns the relationship with the client and gives the client conviction in the firms approach to financial planning but it is the paraplanner who does the majority of the legwork to produce all the documents required to present the advice and to implement the client's advice.
What qualifications should a paraplanner have in Australia?
A paraplanner in Australia should have a bachelor's degree and you can also complete a bunch of short course confirming your understanding of Australia's regulatory environment for financial planners.
What would a promotion to financial planner mean for you?
Firstly, it is likely to mean more responsibility for the client relationship. The paraplanner will have to be the client advocate and also understand how all of the financial planning processes work. The promotion may mean a change in job title, but it doesn't need to involve moving up within your current company as long as you are willing and able to take on more responsibility for clients.
A lot of paraplanners who earn a promotion will experience an increase in salary, but this is not always the case.
The average paraplanner salary in Australia is $60,768.
The average salary for a financial planner is $80,734.
There's still a lot to consider when it comes to how rewarding and gratifying your new role will be, or whether you would like more autonomy in decision making with clients.
Now that this is out of the way and we know the basics of what the paraplanner role is, let's look at some practical steps you can take to get that next role!
To get that next role you first need to make a name for yourself in paraplanning.
Take initiative and show your value to financial planners
Great paraplanners start now
To earn a promotion as a paraplanner, the first thing you'll need to do is get your foot in the door. This means getting that initial role on your resume and proving yourself there before branching out into other roles or higher positions at work. You'll want to have a couple of years of experience in the industry prior to looking for that first promotion but there is no need to wait too long before you start thinking about it.
Go above and beyond in your role
Once you've done that, nothing says I deserve a promotion like going above and beyond in your role as a paraplanner. If you get asked to model two investment scenarios for a client spend some extra time and model three. Come up with some new ideas so your boss doesn't have to. Come with solutions, not problems. Great paraplanners do all this really well and great paraplanners earn promotions.
Get organised to stand out
Start with a list of tasks that need accomplishing for the month (e.g., make sure all necessary reports are completed on time) and break them down into manageable chunks; organize your priorities in order of importance to ensure you have sufficient time to get all the work done but also you should be actively scheduling in time to go above and beyond!
Know what type of job role in the financial services industry suits your personality best
If you are someone who likes to work independently, have lots of one-on-one time with clients and do a lot of independent research then a role as an associate adviser or financial planner might be the perfect match for ambitious paraplanners looking to work their way up the career ladder in financial planning.
But don't discount roles that seem to always have a certain personality type gravitate towards them either. There are always ways to play to your strengths in any role. You do you.
Network with senior financial planners and managers regularly
If paraplanners want to work their way up the career ladder in financial planning, they need to know what role suits them and how to network with senior planners both inside and outside of the company they currently work for. Networking is about taking control of your career.
Outside of seeking a promotion, networking is also a fantastic way to grow your skillset outside of just getting promoted at work.
Networking as a paraplanner could take many forms. You might set up a regular coffee catchup with other paraplanners who work at your firm or at other firms who operate nearby. Helping each other to build skills and combining your networks is a powerful force multiplier for accelerating your careers as paraplanners.
Keep track of all tasks completed weekly and present them at monthly meetings
What's that old saying? Don't hide your light under a bush? It's important to keep track of tasks and be able to present them at monthly meetings with senior staff at your company. Don't blame others if they don't appreciate your work, it's your responsibility to show them how valuable you are! Sometimes, we feel like being part of a team means that we shouldn't be highlighting our individual achievements. This could not be further from the truth!
In particular, it's always good to highlight areas where you've contributed something positive to the business and also demonstrated some new skills as a financial services professional. For example you might have presented the advice in a client meeting for the first time this week. Talk about it! Make sure senior people in your financial planning business know that you're developing more skills as a financial services professional and that they can trust you with additional responsibility. These sorts of moments are a stepping stone to being seen as more than the paraplanner role you currently perform. Of course you are more, make sure others know it too.
Don't be afraid to ask for a promotion
It's important not to wait too long before you do so, as it may seem like you're settling in if your career is stagnating. Just because the company doesn't have another position open, that doesn't mean they won't create one. You can also request more responsibility or take on additional tasks.
It's important to take control of your career - if you're not willing to do so, then who will?