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CISI on Paraplanning – the backbone of all good financial planning firms

  • By Jason Stockwell

Jacqueline Lockie, Head of Financial Planning, CISI and a former paraplanner herself, highlights some of the ways in which the CISI is helping to build the paraplanning profession

The work of a paraplanner has certainly changed since I was one in the late 1990s. Back then, paraplanning was seen as a role which was a stepping stone to becoming a financial adviser. However, I was not alone in enjoying the technical nature of the role and not wanting to be in front of clients. I was always convinced that I would bamboozle them with my technical knowledge. When I eventually did become an adviser, I found out how wrong I was, but that’s another story. The profession has also changed over the last two decades and is moving away from the very sales-orientated environment it once was, to giving clients a long-term financial planning service. In this environment, individual professionals who work hard to give those clients a great service are valued. This extends to paraplanners and support staff who find that they can flourish in these roles.

Many paraplanners are now coming to the fore and voicing their opinions, not hung up on sales targets, but more interested in offering a good quality, long-term financial planning service to their firm’s clients. We have also seen many females coming back into the workplace after having a career break. Typically these women are more than adequately qualified, but not all have the desire to be client facing and so have forged their own path as great paraplanners. The paraplanning function is now widely regarded as the backbone of all good financial planning firms.

CISI and paraplanning

I’m pleased to say that CISI has a wide-ranging programme to support paraplanners in growing UK and international recognition of paraplanning. The Professional Paraplanner Interest Group is a group of paraplanners, members and non-members of CISI, who come ogether to help guide and support the CISI to grow the paraplanning community and profession as a whole. They are represented by the Interest Group Committee and that Committee is also represented on the Professional Financial Planning Forum Committee to ensure all our ideas are joined up and that we make the most out of them all. The Interest Group meet regularly throughout the year and work together to help create the content and speaker suggestions for our Paraplanner Conference held in the Midlands in June each year. This year’s conference was a big success with passionate and relevant speeches from paraplanners who were speaking about their experiences on a main stage for the very first time. Although nervous about public speaking, they all spoke admirably, and I believe this is testament to the friendly and supportive environment that the conference created and to the sharing nature of the paraplanner community itself. We also covered new technical topics as well as updates on legislation and advice technical areas. It was a great mix of content.

We also hold two Professional Paraplanner Interest Group half day events around the country. Later this year we will be in Bristol. Content advice is sought from our Interest Group Committee and the events are run by them as well. What I think is important is that these are free events for paraplanners, whether members of the CISI or not and clearly demonstrates our commitment to all paraplanners and to building the profession.

Strategic direction

Members of The Interest Group are also helping refresh our Paraplanning Professional Refresher module that is free to view for all members and helps them understand what paraplanning is all about. They also help guide CISI in what they think are important changes to the profession and give ideas on how CISI can support them. At the moment, for example, we are working on the refresh and relaunch of the Accredited Paraplanner Professional designation which the Institute of Financial Planning started in the 2000s. CISI has hundreds of paraplanning members who are not currently using this designation (which is free to members who are paraplanners who meet certain criteria). We will be explaining our new plans at the Annual Financial Planning Conference in October and we will be asking our members and their financial planning firms to encourage their paraplanners to use this designation more widely.

A caring, sharing bunch

I also write regular articles on paraplanning and share the collective ideas as well as lessons we can learn from my experiences as a paraplanner. It’s funny how some aspects of paraplanning have changed, and others have not altered one bit in all this time. I have been pleased to see how the articles which have contained statistics and related tech research which I’ve done, can help paraplanners develop their thinking and skills development over the years. We aren’t just technical people, we do have a sense of humour too you know!

CISI also supports paraplanning on an international level. In my role as Head of Financial Planning, I am helping the Financial Planning Standards Board, owner of the CFP licence, to understand how paraplanning standards can be explored, which feeds into the requirements for Certified Financial Planner designation. I share best practice and ideas with all other 25 countries in the CFP community. This will encourage worldwide recognition of paraplanning as a profession alongside financial planning. Bring it on!

About Jacqueline Lockie

Jacqueline is the Head of Financial Planning at the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment (CISI).

She has worked in the financial services sector since 1988 in technical and training roles and also as a financial planner. She is a Fellow of the CISI and holder of the internationally recognised Certified Financial Planner Licence, for which she was one of the first examiners in the UK.

Jacqueline was previously Head of Training at the Association of Investment Companies and Director of Training and Education for the Institute of Financial Planning, where she designed, wrote and delivered new courses for financial advisers wishing to enhance their investment and planning skills and paraplanners to learn the methodology of financial planning.

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