Working as a financial paraplanner: Raphael's story

Meet Raphael, 21, from Reading. He assists financial advisers as a paraplanner. Part of our Bitesize world of work series.

Raphael smiling

How would you describe your job?

My job is to assist financial advisers. My main responsibilities involve conducting research and writing reports for clients, although there’s no set day-to-day routine – it really varies.

What skills do you use in your work?

Attention to detail is important and so are analytical skills because I have to work with a lot of numbers. I use communication skills everyday as I regularly need to discuss things with my adviser. I also need to be very adaptable because no two cases that I work on are the same.

Do you draw on any particular subjects that you studied at school?

I draw on the Maths that I learnt at GCSE and A-level, because there are so many calculations in my work. My English GCSE helps too, because I need to make sure that my reports are easy to understand. I also apply what I learnt in ICT as I work with a lot of spreadsheets. It sounds weird, but I use what I learnt in Biology too as it was very analytical and that's a skill I’ve transferred.

What was your educational career path?

After my GCSEs, I studied Maths, Biology and Geography at A-level. I was unsure about what to do next though. I got a place at university, but then decided I wanted to do something else. I applied for a number of apprenticeship jobs, but wasn't accepted, so I had to take a step back and apply for entry-level jobs to get experience instead.

I worked in customer service at an investment company and did some qualifications alongside this, like my Level 2 Bookkeeping and Accounts, so I was able to take small steps toward my current job.

Top tips

  • Sometimes things might not work out, but the main thing is to focus on your goals

  • You just have to be proactive and keep trying. It’s not always straightforward and you have to be prepared for that.

What to expect if you want to be a financial adviser

Many paraplanners work towards becoming financial advisers. Financial advisers help people and organisations to choose investments, savings, pensions, mortgages and insurance products.

Financial adviser salary: from £25,000 to £90,000 per year

Financial adviser working hours: 35 to 40 hours per week

Typical entry requirements: You can become a financial adviser through:

  • a university course in a subject such as Accountancy or Business Management
  • an apprenticeship such as a financial services professional degree apprenticeship
  • working towards this role.

Like Raphael, you could also start as a financial services administrator or customer services adviser in a bank and work your way up. To do this, you'll need to study for a level 4 qualification in financial advice recognised by the Financial Conduct Authority.

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