There are many paths into financial planning. Some arrive via a commerce degree, others migrate from accountancy because they want to offer more strategic advice, and many more arrive as if out of nowhere, having turned their back on a career that was entirely unrelated to spreadsheets and clients.
Amanda Jarosz took the traditional path of paraplanner-to-adviser, spending eight years studying the systems and back-ends of businesses until she felt confident enough to call herself a financial adviser.
This, she believes, was crucial and career-defining.
“I think there is something to learning all of the systems in an office and spending time in each area of the business,” Jarosz says. “I was a paraplanner for many years and it gave me the confidence, but also the knowledge of how things work.
“It means you don’t get frustrated by admin as often because you realise how long things can take and you have a good understanding of how a business works.”
Another reason Jarosz took her time moving into advice was because she wanted to be proud of the way the business was structured when she did. In her previous role, she was offered the chance to progress from paraplanner to adviser, but didn’t feel suited to it.
“I didn’t see myself moving into commission-based planning that is aligned to the selling of products,” she says.
Instead, she jumped ship and joined Pippa Elliott’s successful Momentum Planning firm in late 2005.
“I was excited by the fee-for-service model and I could see how that would enable you to build long-term relationships with clients,” she says. “When I met Pippa, I liked the fact that she was curious and that is something we place a lot of importance on when dealing with clients.”
Jarosz spent a number of years as a paraplanner at Momentum as well, before assuming an adviser role. She is now one of three full-time planners, with a fourth about to progress from paraplanning into advice.
“When I first crossed over into planning, I think a few clients whom I had dealt with as a paraplanner may have found it a bit strange; it was something they had to get used to,” she says. “But most understood it was a simple case of me progressing.”
She received the best piece of advice from Elliott, who told her not to be afraid to admit she didn’t know everything.
“It was a great piece of advice and often if a client asks something that I need to look into…I will tell them I will look into it for them or have a think about it and get back to them,” Jarosz says. “Every client is different and planning involves a lot of technical information so I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with saying, ‘I don’t know, but let me find out.’ Most clients don’t expect an answer straight away.”
Another important lesson has been the value of networking.
“I can’t tell you how vital that is for a business or someone looking to make connections,” she says. “I recommend people join the local chapter of their FPA [Financial Planning Association] and get to know other planners.”
Jarosz is optimistic about what this year will bring for the profession.
“I think the raising of educational requirements is a great thing and we have a lot of technical developments in our field, which I think are also positive,” she says. “I don’t think we should be scared of change because I think these are changes that are going to be supportive of the profession.”
Name of firm: Momentum Planning
Name of licensee: self-licensed
Time in the industry (previous jobs): 17 years in financial planning, including eight as a paraplanner
Academic qualifications: Diploma in financial services (financial planning), graduate certificate in financial planning, master’s in applied finance (financial planning)
Accreditations: Certified Financial Planner
Professional association memberships: Financial Planning Association