Mid Life Career Change from professional role to Paraplanning advice please


I’m after some advice / guidance and hope someone, in what looks to be an amazing group, would be able to give me a bit of a steer.

I don’t work in th finance industry currently but am seriously considering a change in my career and have been considering options for about a year now.

At the moment I work part time in a fairly senior commercial & operations role for a consulting engineers in the construction industry. I’ve been doing this for just over 20 years, (I’m mid 40s)

I’ve always been really interested in finance and personal finance and this really ramped up about 3 years ago and in conjunction with a growing disillusionment with my current industry, I’ve concluded I don’t have to grind out years doing a job which provides me with zero satisfaction when I have the opportunity to make a career change into something I'm interested in.

I understand broadly the initial qualification requirements and am on the cusp of self funding to do the CII Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.

Broadly my plan is to study for the above qualification and then look for a part time (2 days per week) trainee paraplanner role, either once I’ve passed some of the exams or after I’ve gained the qualification (subject to the below question). Is this realistic / feasible? Do such roles exist or would companies likely be interested in taking on a mature trainee on this basis.

Is it feasible/ possible to do the exams while not working in industry? I’ve looked at past papers and options around training courses and am confident I could pass the RO1- R05 modules from a pure academic perspective but am unsure how feasible it is to pass them generally (or specifically the R06 module) without actually have experience in ‘doing’.

Many thanks for your time reading this and in advance of any help or advice you can provide.


  • Hi Steve

    Welcome to the group!

    Starting with the qualification question: it is perfectly possible to pass the exams while not in the industry; you may find it a bit more difficult though as some of the content will come up in your day to day work in financial services, which is one less thing to think about when it comes to the exams themselves. I passed Investment Principles and Risk (R02) when I was working purely in pensions, which shows that it is possible!

    From what I understand, R06 is bringing together the knowledge you have gained from the previous five exams, and there is guidance available from the likes of various training providers and peers who will be able to give you an idea of what to expect and how to approach this exam, as it differs from the previous ones. It's a written exam, instead of multiple choice. Although you can take the exams in any order, it is probably better to leave R06 to the end because of this.

    In terms of working within the industry, there are plenty of firms who would consider someone who wants to work part time (I employed such a person until quite recently), and if you have self funded your qualifications, this can only be seen as a positive.

    I would sign up with some employment agencies and speak to some local financial advisers; I'm sure most will be happy to help or point you in the right direction. The agencies may be less helpful with someone with no experience, but in the market we are in, they may know someone who would be prepared to look at a new entrant to the profession.

    The very best of luck to you!

  • Thanks very much for your response Andy, I was thinking that self funding should show commitment that would hopefully help with opportunities so it’s good to get some validation of that.

    Thanks for the advice around ringing round, I hadn’t really considered that in the age of recruitment consultants and job boards but I’ll certainly give that a shot.

    I’d done reading around the exams and thought that it looked possible to do them without experience but again it’s always good to get some validation on that so thanks again.
  • Hi Steve and welcome to the Big Tent!

    It's fantastic that you are considering a career change into financial planning and this group is the perfect place to get support and advice.

    I would have you had a look at some of the threads in the New to Paraplanning stream https://thebigtent.paraplannersassembly.co.uk/categories/new-to-paraplanning

    There will be conversations in there that will be useful to you too, like this one:


    There was also an online assembly about this last year, which might be helpful to watch: https://www.crowdcast.io/e/mentoring-feb21

    The Personal Finance Society have also put together a booklet answering lots of questions for those new to paraplanning, which is here: https://www.thepfs.org/media/10128418/getting-you-started-in-paraplanning-2.pdf

    The have a paraplanning panel too, which has a group on linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12304985/ They have a number of events for paraplanners and aspiring paraplanners so if you join the group, you'll be able to keep up to date on what they have going on.

    There is also the Financial Adviser Mentorship group, which was created to help people joining the profession get support and advice on how to develop their career and find roles. https://www.famcommunity.co.uk/

    One final tip I would offer is to get yourself a mentor to help you with your journey; if you sign up to any exams with the CII and PFS, you get access to their Connect Mentoring Platform https://connect.cii.co.uk/ where you can look for mentors to help you with your exams and your career journey - this is all part of your membership.

    I hope that's helpful but just give me a shout if you have any questions! :)

  • Wow Caro that’s a fantastic list of resources, thanks very much, I’ll start working through them.

    I had wondered about mentorship so your comments and links around that are really appreciated, I know from my current industry that mentoring is really helpful & useful so it’s great to hear that it’s actively promoted and available.

    Again, thanks I really appreciate your time to help
  • Hi Steve

    I was in exactly the same situation as you a couple of years ago - professional career in an unrelated area but with an interest in personal finance. I studied R01-R05 alongside my previous job and passed the exams, so it is feasible to do it in an academic way without working in the industry. I did find the Revision Mate App very useful (which you can buy from the CII when you sign up for each module, I think it is part of an enhanced enrolment option) as it allows you to test your knowledge so you can go into the exam with confidence. I passed R06 shortly after joining the industry, but by that point I think it is still possible to do it without industry experience. There is a company called Brand FT who do an analysis of the case study (which seems like cheating to me!) that people in the industry recommended for R06. When I started looking for jobs I found it quite difficult to be considered for paraplanner roles without any industry experience, even with several RO exams under my belt. I've been working in financial services (in an administrative/technical role) for 6 months now, so it can be done.

    Good luck

  • Thanks Chris, that’s useful info, cheers
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