Can we start with a snapshot of your career so far?

I got my start in financial services when I was 20 years old working as a DB Pensions Administrator. There was a 4-week boot camp to get us up to speed on all things DB which was very intense, and then we got thrown in the deep end calculating deferred pension benefits at the point of exit. I was then pulled onto a project for recalculating DB scheme payments that had gone into payment incorrectly. Very technical, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Before long, I wanted to play with all the colours in the crayon box (not just pensions) so I started working at an IFA just after my 23rd birthday as an administrator. Within the year, I was asked to join the paraplanning team. I knew that I didn’t want to be an adviser and I wasn’t fully sure of what a paraplanner was, but the paraplanners at my firm seemed to be exceptional people. I remember thinking that I wanted to be them, and I wanted to be able to call myself a paraplanner. So, I started taking exams to work toward my level 4 diploma.

I remained employed as a paraplanner for almost three years and loved my job. I was about to be made a manager. But I had a horrible sinking feeling when that prospect didn’t excite me. That sent me into a bit of an existential panic and after meditating on it, I requested that I work part-time, and then eventually left my job to do a bit of soul searching. I set up as a self-employed paraplanner to earn an income on the side while I figured out what it was exactly that I wanted to do with my life. I found that my passion was reignited working for myself. The business is now four employees strong, and while we want to keep the team small, we reckon we will have at least five employees by the end of 2024.

How did you come to join the financial planning profession? Did you always want to become a paraplanner?

This is a great question. I wasn’t sure about going into financial planning at first because of the bad things I’d heard about financial advisers. I was led to believe it was a sales-focused role where the client’s needs were glossed over, and a transactional relationship was the norm. By chance, a colleague of mine told me about NextGen Planners, and I was put into contact with someone who was a member and had a lot more experience in the profession than I did.

After a good conversation with them, they assuaged my doubts and I felt confident that financial planning could be a rewarding career path that aligns with my moral compass.

How have you found the step into self-employment?

It has certainly been interesting. It’s my new normal now but there is certainly a mindset change that happens. I remember waking up after I’d left employment and thinking “Okay, If I don’t do something, no one is going to do it for me.” I felt safe though knowing that if it didn’t work out, I would likely be able to find another job, but I was determined to make self-employment work for me. I couldn’t imagine my life any other way now.

You became a mentee within The Paraplanner Club - What did you find was the biggest benefit?

The biggest benefit was having the peace of mind knowing that my mentor had likely experienced the same feelings and circumstances I had in the workplace. The questionnaire I filled out before being matched with someone showed me that there was a real effort to pair me with someone who could truly help me achieve my career goals. I can confidently say that without my mentor, I would not have had the confidence to set up my outsourcing business or even consider it as a viable option.

You are now a mentor as part of The Paraplanner Club – what is one bit of advice you’d give a paraplanner reading this article?

I think the one bit of advice I’d give is that as a paraplanner, it’s okay to make mistakes, just try not to make the same one twice. Due to the technical nature of the role, I think it’s very easy for us paraplanners to feel that we aren’t good enough because we aren’t perfect. A missed decimal point or a typo can feel like the end of the world, and it can lead us to ignore all the amazing work we have previously completed. It’s called catastrophising and I’m guilty of it myself. I always bounce back stronger than I was before, but I’d certainly skip the bit where I feel sorry for myself if I could!

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