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Paraplanning – Michelle Hoskin on setting the standard

  • By Jason Stockwell

Why The Paraplanner Standard is driving clarity and positive change in the growing profession of paraplanning. Michelle Hoskin, Founder and Director of Standards International

The last few months have thrown up some interesting developments in the world of paraplanning. There has been much interest in The Paraplanner Standard but also at the same time there has also been a huge misunderstanding about what it is.

We have had interest from inhouse and outsourced paraplanning teams in South Africa, Canada, the United States and India and it is great to see the focus on ‘quality’ across the global is certainly on the rise.

Here in the UK, it has been great to see so many forward thinking and entrepreneurial financial planning firms and paraplanners embracing the intentions of the standard. At Standards International we have engaged in some fruitful and fascinating discussions around the future growth of the role.

We are thrilled to see that so many who are equipped with this foresight are preparing themselves for a very different marketplace where the paraplanner role will look quite different to the one we see today.

Definition of the paraplanner role

Some of the primary and most fruitful discussions we’ve participated in have been around the sector’s definition of the paraplanner role – what it is, what paraplanners actually do and what role paraplanning plays in the financial planning firm as a whole. It is apparent that this can be vastly different from firm to firm, and from paraplanner to paraplanner, so the role purpose as defined in the standard is proving to be a huge help.

The technical ‘knowledge drum’ is really the only one that as an ‘industry’ (and I use that word on purpose) we have been banging over the past ten years. There is no doubt that we have been blindsided and once again seem to be missing the point

In September, whilst at an event in the UK, I bumped into a financial planner who runs a very successful and growing business. We started discussing the paraplanner role and he proudly said to me that he had four paraplanners working within his team. However, after a more detailed discussion I uncovered that, in fact, he had one apprentice who was just starting on their journey, two post-sales support administrators (who had their old style FPC 123 plus one or two passes at level 4) and one ‘soon-to-be-level-4 report writer’.

Honestly, this is not helping! The use of the correct role definitions is essential if we are to bring some clarity to the profession of paraplanning. It will help us to equip both the firms with the road map to recruit successfully for this role and also the paraplanners themselves to lay down a clear path for their own personal development and growth.

Tipping the balance

The main challenge here is in tipping the balance in the UK from our over-reliance and obsession towards academic technical knowledge and qualifications. Whilst these are essential as the foundation of the role, we are thrilled to see that so many of the early adopters of the standard agree that there is so much more than this to being a paraplanner.

The technical ‘knowledge drum’ is really the only one that as an ‘industry’ (and I use that word on purpose) we have been banging over the past ten years. There is no doubt that we have been blindsided and once again seem to be missing the point.

As the sector develops over the next decade it will need much more focus on other key and essential attributes for those individuals fulfilling this role effectively.

Essential attributes for paraplanners

Let’s take a look at these individually:


The paraplanner must demonstrate a keen interest in the role and in the financial services sector as a whole and remain alert to the needs of the client and the organisation at all times.


The paraplanner must demonstrate a continued desire to expand their knowledge and understanding of the client’s needs and requirements, as well as of the financial services sector as a whole.


The paraplanner must remain responsive to and supportive of the client’s needs and requirements at all times, while having the authority and autonomy to confidently put forward their own ideas and opinions.


The paraplanner must strive to work as efficiently and effectively as possible at all times while maintaining the highest standards of professionalism and levels of confidentiality.

Each one of these is a specific requirement as defined in The Paraplanner Standard and as part of the official assessment evidence of these (as well as other key skills) must be gathered to ensure they are, and remain at the heart of, the paraplanning role.

As the journey unfolds we will continue to learn more about the value that paraplanning brings to the profession globally, but one thing is for sure, without full adoption of the standards I believe that valuable time will be wasted for the paraplanners of the future and for firms whilst… yet again… we try and reinvent the wheel.

For a deep dive insight into The Paraplanner Standard visit our website.

About Michelle Hoskin

Michelle Hoskin (aka Little Miss WOWW!) is well known for her endless enthusiasm and energy, infectious personality and unique outlook on what she describes as a “magical profession”.

With over 20 years’ experience working alongside some of the world’s most successful financial services organisations, Michelle is an internationally recognised author, speaker, coach and leading expert in the design and implementation of international frameworkbased best practice standards.

Michelle is pioneering a drive towards increased professionalism and operational excellence through her continued work at Standards International – the UK’s premier certification body for British and international financial services standards – of which she is the founder. She also most recently led a sector committee whose objective was to develop and launch an exciting new international standard for professional paraplanners.

Relentless in her pursuit of a global movement of change within financial services, Michelle is fully committed to supporting financial professionals worldwide to achieve things they only dreamed were possible, and to working with them so that they become the best possible version of themselves.

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