Stumbling upon my career in finance was purely accidental. I had never really thought about it, and assumed financial advice was for people who are good at maths. After graduating from university I searched around for a job and found a role called ‘paraplanner’. After a quick Google I thought, ‘not for me’ but realising I had nothing to lose, I applied.
And I am so glad I did.
Since I started my role six months ago I have learnt so much about the profession and myself. I have just passed my first exam, RO1, and am well on my way to getting the rest of the RO's under my belt.
Before this role I was stuck in my comfort zone but it has made me push myself to new heights. Being a paraplanner challenges me in so many ways and my worries about not having the right skills have since been eradicated. Without wanting to sound clichéd, that well-worn university term 'transferrable skills' is spot on. It's about having that level of qualification, not the subject that it’s in, that matters.
'An old banker in his draughty office'
In my own experience there is a lack of awareness of financial services and what it can offer for young people. As adults, it is an inherent part of day to day life, down to the simplest of things such as everyday budgeting.
And yet it is clear we are lacking some sort of educational programme that teaches young people these lessons. Surely an educational system that focuses on teaching the basics would be beneficial in the long run?
As a 21-year-old who has just left the educational system, I know first-hand that school or university does not teach you these things. Some sceptics might say finance should be learnt in the ‘real world’, and that not every financial situation can be taught in the classroom. However basic knowledge would always be beneficial. It is ignorance that is the catalyst.
We need a focus on financial education that makes the profession friendly and approachable. Banks and debt and loans are scary things to young adults and teens who are finally closing their accounts at the bank of mum and dad.
I believe teaching them about these things will also make the idea of a career in the financial services feel more rewarding and accessible, eradicating the stereotypical image of the old banker in his draughty office and replacing it with new fresh ideas about how we can make the services work for the younger generations.
Experience and qualifications are key to this profession; it is experience that lets us learn from our mistakes and build on our career. But it is vital those with the knowledge nurture those who want to succeed to keep the industry modern and vibrant.
Rachel Naulls is a paraplanner at Informed Financial Planning. You can read the first part in our series here.