In the spotlight – Cheryl Wade

by Richard Allum on 18 May 2008

We continue our series of interviews with a paraplanner to gain an insight into his or her career, working day and top tips for the rest of us. This week features Cheryl Wade who has 22 years experience and is the only paraplanner in her company.  If you would like to feature in this section in the coming weeks and provide useful information to your peers (as well as raising your own profile) please contact us.

Name – Cheryl Wade

Current Role – Senior Paraplanner

Employer/Company – Build Your Wealth

Qualifications – DipPFS, CeMAP

How long have you worked in Financial Services? – 22 years!!!

Have you always been a paraplanner? – No, I started by financial services career at the tender age of 16 on a Youth Training Scheme, working for a direct sales office. I then progressed my career via three Life offices, gaining an eclectic skill set including accounts, banking, various life and pensions departments, pension complaints and telesales. I started my paraplanning career in 2001, working for a sole trader IFA, then subsequently moved to a larger IFA office where I was in charge of two trainee Paraplanners whilst overseeing the administrative team. At that time, I also supported the three top earning IFAs providing a full Paraplanning service which also included ego smoothing and temper training (theirs not mine)! The company went down the pan, and luckily, my favourite IFA asked me to join him and our then office manager in setting up his own practice, which has been successfully trading since 2004.

How would you describe a typical day as a paraplanner for you? – There is no such word as typical in the happy world of paraplanning! I provide a full administrative and paraplanning service for our clients on the regulated side of the business. We are not just an IFA practice (check out our website) so consequently I am involved in the tax/non regulated side of the business – I really do learn something new every day!! As a fee charging company, our focus is on providing a continual customer service and I know all of our clients personally (not necessarily by face but definitely voice). At the moment, I seem to be embroiled in complaints (generated by me – not the clients!) with product providers – a very time consuming and frustrating facet of my day. I work very closely with my IFA and we discuss each client and consider each product recommendation in great detail to ensure that we are both happy with the decisions made. This is a great way to learn and understand the psyche of an IFA.

How do you fit into the overall paraplanning support within your company? – I am the only paraplanner at the moment though if we expand the business, I will probably need administrative support before bringing in another paraplanner.

What aspect of paraplanning do you enjoy most? – Report writing takes up a substantial amount of my working week, but it one of my favourite tasks. It’s great to pull the research, recommendation and implementation of the product together. I also enjoy the client contact, and solving problems and issues gives me massive satisfaction.

In what ways can you add value as a paraplanner? – In my management of client relationships. Adopting a proactive approach by nipping problems in the bud and always keeping the client in the loop. Establishing good working relations, not just with broker consultants, but also their support staff, who are pivotal when it comes to new and existing business queries.

What tips would you offer any other paraplanners? – Adopt a cool, methodical approach to all tasks (not as easy as it sounds). Be prepared to leave the office with jobs unfinished – this is hard if you have come from an administrative background and are used to a clean desk policy at the end of the working day. Sign up to receive email alerts from financial publications to keep you up to date with the business world. Never be afraid to question your IFA’s thought process – this is an important part of your learning. No two IFAs are the same so be adaptable to their ways of working then find the best route forward for you. Multi-tasking skills are essential to this role. Talk to your broker consultants – they are a mine of information about their competitors!

What websites do you regularly use? – Most provider websites for literature, product information, valuations and new business submission. I also check out other IFA websites and have a general surf now and then for interesting articles.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? – Don’t sweat the small stuff (thanks mum!).

What exam are you taking next? – No sure. Probably an AF but to be honest I quite fancy taking something non-financial at night school.

What one thing could make your job easier? – Just one?? Hmm… Product Providers acting in the best interests of their customers, our clients, is probably top of my priority list at the moment.

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