With a business model that specializes in matching virtual paraplanners with hiring firms, it should come as no surprise that one of the most common questions we receive is: “How can I become a Virtual Paraplanner?”
Unbeknownst to most people, there isn’t a structured career path to becoming a paraplanner. In fact, landing an entry-level position (virtual or otherwise) doesn’t require much more than knowledge in the basic concepts of financial planning.
Now to be clear, this isn’t to say that you can expect to secure a senior position within a firm simply because you took a class or two on the subject in college — but it certainly might help you get your foot in the door.
As we covered in a previous post, there are a number of different roles that fall under the scope of virtual paraplanning. And although there are no industry-wide requirements for becoming a virtual paraplanner, most jobs have their own minimum qualifications.
These qualifications can run the gamut from “must have completed the CFP coursework or have passed the CFP exam” to “experience in eMoney or other planning software.” It really just depends on the firm and their immediate needs.
While it’s worth a shot for anyone interested in becoming a virtual paraplanner to apply to all jobs that may be a good fit, there are a few additional actions that could move your resume to the top of the heap — while earning you a valuable educational experience in the process.
Sign up for a registered CFP® coursework program
The breadth of knowledge that you acquire by completing the coursework in a registered CFP® program is remarkable. As a result, you immediately become more attractive in the eyes of potential employers and increase the likelihood of securing your dream job.
Despite the fact that the CFP® program is the gold standard of the industry, some future paraplanners choose to explore the Registered Paraplanner designation first as a way of easing into the world of financial planning.
If that thought has crossed your mind, I’d like to give you a word of caution.
Instead, just go straight for the CFP® coursework. A lot of it overlaps and you will need much more of the CFP coursework knowledge as you progress in your position.
Take the CFP® exam!
Once you’ve completed the CFP® coursework, it’s time to sit for the exam. To be completely honest, this will likely be one of the most challenging exams that you will ever take. On the bright side, the benefits are numerous and absolutely worth it if you plan to stay in the industry long-term.
In addition, this shows potential employers that you are committed to the industry and possess a level of competence that is not easily obtained.
Get familiar with financial planning software
Whenever possible, sign up for demos with the major software companies to try and get familiar with the financial planning technology that will be used in some of the jobs that you’re seeking.
If demos are not an option, look for online courses through the public library or local university that specialize in financial planning technology and take as many of those as you can.
Finally, network. Get active in your local FPA chapter and start attending financial planning conferences. Not only does this give you the opportunity to get your name out there and meet potential employers, but it also helps keep you current in financial planning topics and lingo.
Who knows, your dream virtual paraplanning position could be just a handshake away.
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