The Paraplanners

A qualified view on qualifications Fri 9 Aug 2013

Like many people, I regularly look back over what I have learned and how far I have come in my career to date.  Having recently attended the CII/PFS Graduation Ceremony in respect of my Fellowship award, it prompted another opportunity to take stock and consider where to go next.

There are currently still only a handful of us in Paraplanning that hold the Fellowship qualification, but with record numbers of Fellows qualifying across the financial planning spectrum this year, it is clear that more and more people recognise the importance of going as far as they can to demonstrate to themselves – as well as their clients and peers – that they truly value what they believe in.

I frequently read in the press about other financial planning professionals who talk about wanting to ‘attain Chartered status’ – a highly creditable and worthy goal to set themselves.  Focussing on achieving a ‘status’ suggests that this is the finishing line for many people.  However, to me, Chartered is not so much a ‘status’ as a stage in our careers and should not be the ultimate goal-line whereby, once you’re over it, you’re home and dry. 

Realistically, the industry itself as well as many other factors including legislation - is constantly shifting. This means that we need to keep learning, keep developing, and enhancing the skills that we have already got.  This doesn’t necessarily have to be purely exam-based - and arguably it shouldn’t be because a well-rounded bank of skills and knowledge are formed through practical experience and the application of that experience, in conjunction with technical expertise.

When I think about ‘professionalism’ - a word which is used with increasing regularity in our industry – I think of it as an on ongoing journey, rather than a destination.  It is not just about how qualified you are although it is important to aim for a high standard of education - it is also about how youconduct yourself and demonstrate your commitment to your career.  For instance, it has taken me 13 years to achieve PFS Fellowship, but it doesn’t stop there; I have a lot further to go and will almost certainly never stop learning. 

Fortunately, I have now reached a point where I know enough to help people that are starting out in financial services, and have made a conscious decision to dedicate this next phase of my career to mentoring others, as well continuing my own development.  I believe that coaching other people is one of the best ways to learn something yourself, and to reinforce all the time and effort that you have already invested in your career. 

Someone very wise once said to me that you should never be afraid of employing or training someone whoultimatelybecomes more skilled than you are. After all, helping someone get on the ladder and being an integral part of developing their own skills is, for me, the most rewarding thing I can do, and is how I interpret the role of a true professional.

This article was originally published in the May/June edition of the PFS's Financial Solutions Magazine.

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