Future paraplanner seeking career advice

Good morning all,

I'm a 37 year old professional (not financial services) and, whilst successful in my field, I find my work ultimately unfulfilling.

I have been thinking of moving into paraplanning (perhaps lifestyle financial planning later on) for a fair while now. I have always been interested in personal finance and I've spent a lot of commuting time listening to Meaningful Money, Informed Choice, Nextgen planners and the like. Ultimately, I would love to help people. I believe it would motivate me hugely and I would take a great deal of pleasure from my work.

I understand that one possible route in would be to complete CII level 4 diploma under my own steam and apply for vacancies. I am fine with this as it shows a bit of willing.

What would be realistic after completing level 4? Is it possible to go straight into paraplanning? I have heard a lot about paraplanning and financial planning in general being areas where demand far exceeds supply and you would think this would manifest itself in plenty of job vacancies. I don't necessarily see them. Indeed there are a fairly small number of opportunities on the nextgen planners jobs board. What are your thoughts on this?

Thank you so much for any support/advice you may offer me.



  • StephenHStephenH Member
    edited October 2020
    Hi (and hi, everyone. My first post!)

    I’m going to piggy back onto your post if you don’t mind as I’m really keen to see the responses as I have a lot of similarities to your situation: in my 30s and planning a career change into financial services, keen interest in personal finance that’s grown with listening to the podcasts you’ve mentioned, a desire to help people understand their finances etc.

    It sounds like I’m one step ahead of your thinking as I recently started the CII Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. I’ve passed 2 exams so far and have my 3rd one booked for the end of next month.

    My plan is to try and get 4 exams under my belt and then start actively looking for roles within the industry. I don’t yet know how realistic this is (and it’d be great to get people’s thoughts from the forum on this), but I’m hoping to start looking for ‘Trainee Paraplanner’ roles, but I do wonder how realistic this is without yet having any financial services based work experience to my name.

    Hopefully we’ll get some good insights from people on here. Not sure how helpful I might be as it sounds like I’m only a step ahead of you, but if you have any questions about what I’ve done so far, feel free to ask.
  • Hi both,

    As I found out myself, it can be difficult to go straight into a paraplanner role and at 95% of firms for a trainee paraplanner role you will be administrators with a bit of report writing on the side to start. Not that there's anything wrong with being an administrator, it's where I started and now that I'm an assistant planner it really helps when I'm working with administrators and paraplanners as I've done both roles now (and know how intense both roles can be and their respective challenges). So just be prepared for that.

    I found that when I was looking for roles that could break me into a pure paraplanning gig, also looking out for technical administrator roles that required level 4 or partially diploma qualified applicants was a good way to go - generally if you can show that you're eager to learn and getting stuck into picking things up why would an adviser pass a pension top up letter/ investment recommendation that can be done in less than half a day down the workflow when they can pass it along to you? (Depending on firm processes ofc).

    I'd suggest looking for larger firms as well that can afford and have the resources to train.

    It really does vary so much across firms the type of experience you will get as a "trainee paraplanner" or paraplanner in general.

    What would be realistic after completing level 4? Is it possible to go straight into paraplanning? I have heard a lot about paraplanning and financial planning in general being areas where demand far exceeds supply and you would think this would manifest itself in plenty of job vacancies.

    Demand for good paraplanners is definitely there (emphasis on good) - where are you based? Leeds, London, Manchester, Edinburgh and basically anywhere, good paraplanners are snapped up very quickly. Level 4 will give you a baseline of knowledge, but taking that knowledge and applying it to a client situation and then putting finger to keyboard charging potentially £'000s is another story! As I'm learning in my current role, exams are great but nothing makes up for experience. I'd personally apply for the admin positions I mentioned above as soon as possible and do your diploma while working in financial services if your current circumstances permit and you can find a role.

    Bit of a word vomit there, but if you have any questions let me know.

  • Hi @Gradient and @StephenH

    Firstly, congratulations on choosing the fantastic career that paraplanning is, and well done on making such a positive start!

    There are lots of resources available to help you on your paraplanning journeys, and there are already a few threads on here with signposts of places to look for info, so I won't repeat them here! If you have a look at these posts, I'm sure you'll find them a good place to start:



    There's also the Personal Finance Society Booklet on paraplanning that may be of interest, the PFS Paraplanner panel put this together. https://www.thepfs.org/media/10122021/getting-you-started-in-paraplanning.pdf

    It's good to get level 4 but, to be honest, (and this is just my view), getting level 4 will not automatically mean you will be able to start a paraplanning role straight away. Many employers (but not all) like them to have some practical experience, so it can be a bit of a catch 22 when you're just starting out.

    Lots of employers also will fund employees' studies, so another option would be to look at entry level positions such as a trainee paraplanner or administrator, where you can learn on the job whilst you are studying.

    Some of the bigger employers also have academies for planners and paraplanners, so this could also be an option as they often offer training and qualification as part of the academy offering.

    There's also the Jobs Board in here, which I'm sure you will know about.

    I hope this helps :)

  • @StephenH - No problem with the piggyback! Will send you a PM to ask a few questions about your journey so far.

    @LiamD25 - Thanks for your reply. I am in South Cheshire, so the likes of Manchester, Liverpool, Chester, Stoke and even Birmingham (at a bit of a push) are doable for me.

    I won't lie, my concerns about admin roles are primarily financial. I am certainly not expecting immediate parity with my current salary (just over £60k) as that is not reasonable, but need a strong idea of when I could/would be earning a typical paraplanners salary (Money Marketing annual report has the average above £40k now) as I could pay my mortgage on that. I don't wish to sound unreasonable but I have a young family, mortgage etc. and need to be diligent. Am I right that an admin role is in the order of £20k? How long is likely in an admin role before able to become a paraplanner?

    @Caro - thanks for your kind advice - I will begin to work through the resources you have provided and come back with any questions!


  • Hi Gradient, my pleasure!

    There are a couple of larger firms that do the academy, Quilters, SJP (not everyone's cup of tea, I know but I believe their training scheme is very good), and I think Brewin Dolphin have one too.

    Re the Money Marketing average salary, many paraplanners don't earn £40k; there is a wide variance depending where you are in the country, how qualified and experienced the paraplanner is and most importantly, how much an employer is prepared to pay, which is leading to that average.

    I know a level 6 experienced paraplanner who is chartered can be offered up to £60k in London but in other places, the same paraplanner could be offered £40k, it's a real mixed bag.

    Salaries for level 4 paraplanners again have a huge variance, I've seen them offered from anything from £22k to £45k depending again on the company and the location.

    I would recommend speaking with a good recruitment consultant to get a good idea of what could be expected in the early years, as they are the ones placing candidates and know the market. There are some good ones out there! I would get in touch with Idex, who I have used in the past. Tony Bates, the MD, is fantastic, him and his team really know their stuff.

    I hope that helps!

  • @Caro that's super helpful - thanks!

  • Yonkers420Yonkers420 Member
    edited October 2020

    Hi Gradient, bluntly 40K would be hard to get right off the bat and I also think admin roles whilst not the ultimate goal would give you exposure to parts of the business/role that you might not necessarily get from just taking exams. You could certainly achieve that, if you get qualified and prove yourself to be an asset to the firm, like any role.

    I think to be a paraplanner on 40k+ you'd have to be giving the adviser some feedback/input on the advice process and this could take a while... but of course everyone is different. The quickest way is to get in somewhere, try and get involved in as much as possible and get qualified to the highest degree.

    Also paraplanner is a very broad term, some are administrators putting in basic info in reports, some just write reports and some carry out various high level roles within firms and challenge/help shape the advice advisers give.

    In short, 40k achievable with hard work and the right firm... but I think you'd be really really hard pushed to do that in under 2-3 years fresh into the industry.

    All the best! Hope it works out

  • @Yonkers420 - blunt, honest, feedback is perfect. Thank you.

  • Thanks for all the info @LiamD25, @Caro & @Yonkers420, some great top tips for those of us really early on the pathway.

    My plan is to get another 2 exams under my belt (so 4 total), keep saving a little and then start actively looking for roles early in the new year.

    In terms of the 'where' to look for roles, is it usually a combination of the places mentioned above: jobs boards here / NextGen, industry recruitment consultants, web pages of the bigger employers etc.?

    Many thanks.

  • Yeah or even googling "ifa admin, your location" usually turns up some results or you could even contact some local IFAs directly and see if they're hiring.

  • Finally got around to calling IDEX today for a chat to better understand my options. Hoping for a callback from the person who was identified as best placed to help me. Fingers crossed.

  • @Yonkers420 said:
    Yeah or even googling "ifa admin, your location" usually turns up some results or you could even contact some local IFAs directly and see if they're hiring.

    Or other outsourced paraplanning firms. You never know what might turn up - I've taken on two freelancers from people making enquiries

  • @Andy_Schleider Thanks for the reply. Out of interest, into what positions have you hired the freelancers with no experience?

    Thanks again :smile:

  • To be fair, they both had experience. However I am sure there are more established companies that may be looking for people they can train and put through exams. I have heard of one company that are looking to possibly hire in January and another that appear to be looking for new people currently so it's worth making enquiries to see what their requirements are for any potential roles.

  • @Andy_Schleider dropped you a message. Cheers.

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