Leading by example

The CISI’s Financial Planning Mentoring Scheme is bringing together sector experts and young professionals to help improve their financial planning skills 
by Sandra Paul

In January 2019, the CISI launched its Financial Planning Mentoring Scheme to help grow the financial planning profession and raise the standards of financial planning, with the support of experienced and dedicated CFPTM professionals. 

Mentorship is a learning and development partnership between someone with vast experience and someone who wants to learn and grow in their profession. While there is some crossover between professional coaches and mentors, there are distinguishing features between the two.  
Mentoring is a long-term advisory process that helps a mentee realise their goals with an emphasis on the individual’s career, while coaching is a short-term supervisory process aiming to refine a specific skill or gain knowledge, focused on performance. The mentoring process is also more closely tied to the relationship that the mentor and mentee build over time, while coaching is task-driven.  

“For those with less experience where will they turn?” asks Paul Etheridge MBE CFPTM Chartered FCSI (Hon). “It is vital that we have CFP professionals step forward to be mentors and, I can assure them, it is rewarding. Unless [mentees] have the opportunity to link with someone who has ‘been there, done that’, who is willing to share, and give generous encouragement, we’re going to lose some of the soft skills that are essential for proper financial planning.”

Paul has been a mentor throughout his career and says that “mentoring will provide a general enrichment”. He says he “didn’t do much as a mentor, apart from saying ‘So what?’ Mentees just needed an opportunity to give a lot more thought to things they were doing. Going through a client report, for example, I would say, ‘so what?’” 

Jacqueline Lockie CFPTM Chartered FCSI, CISI head of financial planning, is a mentor (outside of the scheme) and is determined to promote the benefits of mentoring. She says: “It helps build strong and trusting relationships, allowing aspiring financial planners and paraplanners to gain the knowledge, confidence and self-awareness to further their careers in financial planning and paraplanning. I think this exchange of wisdom and experience can make the difference between a good planner or paraplanner – and a great one.”
The next generationWithin the financial planning community, mentoring is important to inspire the next generation of successful planners. There is a clear difference between providing financial advice and financial planning. The process of financial planning puts the client’s needs, goals and objectives at its core. Advice is more product-related, says Jacqueline. 

Some benefits that the mentee will gain from the CISI scheme:
  • Guidance throughout their personal development from a CFP professional.
  • Clearer direction on career path and professional objectives.
  • Development of existing strengths and guidance on overcoming weaknesses.
  • The opportunity to reflect on personal and professional goals and experience.

Warren Shute CFPTM Chartered FCSI, author of The Money Plan and winner of the CFP™ Professional of the Year Award 2017, has been through the mentoring process himself and knows first-hand how important it was to his career. 

“If you want to be the best financial planner, you have to work out who is the best financial planner in the market. Success leaves clues to this and the fastest way to achieve it yourself, is to follow someone who has already been there. When I worked out that to help me get to the next stage in my business, I needed help from someone who had been there and done it, I chose Paul Etheridge.  

“Paul was known then, and is still regarded [among some former members of the Institute of Financial Planning, which Paul founded in 1987], as the godfather of financial planning. Rather than going through life making mistakes and learning from them, I thought why not go straight to Paul and learn from him? I spoke to and saw Paul on a monthly basis for eight years.” 
The institute’s scheme The CISI Financial Planning Mentoring Scheme runs for a minimum of 12 months, but it can continue for however long both parties decide. The CISI recommends a minimum of four meetings per year – the frequency and structure of meetings can be determined by both parties. At the time of writing, the scheme has over 40 mentors and mentees signed up.  

The scheme has also been designed to ensure that the whole focus of the mentoring time is financial planning and not about the technical intricacies. To plug any gap in technical knowledge, the CISI mentoring scheme has partnered with James Hay, Schroders and Royal London. Their technical helplines will be available to deal with any such queries leaving valuable mentoring time for financial planning.

Ian Smart, product architect at Royal London, says that Royal London recognises the importance of advice and is pleased to “be involved with helping people achieve their goals in financial planning”. He says: “We can help support this by offering practical experience in the technical aspect of writing protection business. Royal London has a wealth of knowledge that we can share via advice, aids and tools, which complements the service the mentors will be providing through the CISI.”

Neil MacGillivray, head of technical support at James Hay, says that “we all have a part to play in ensuring the financial services sector continues to flourish”, which is why it’s extending its technical support helpline to the financial planning scheme. “The helpline will provide insight and guidance on pensions, tax and trust legislation to mentees,” says Neil. “In financial services, we all want to do the best by our clients while being successful in our sector. To achieve this, it’s important to continue developing and evolving, and we can all help each other do this and further strengthen the sector by sharing our knowledge and expertise. Collectively, my team has over 85 years of experience in financial services, so we have plenty of nuggets of wisdom that we can share with the mentees. “
The benefits of mentoring According to a 2017 paper by the European Coaching and Mentoring Research Consortium, benefits include short-term career advancement, accelerated learning and psychological benefits such as the development of personal confidence and positive self-regard. It is not just beneficial to those starting out in their careers – mentoring is useful at any stage, and many seasoned professional financial planners still utilise their mentoring relationships.

The paper (p.11) also publishes results of a survey about the benefits of mentoring. The 93 respondents were in-company mentoring scheme managers. The results show that mentoring largely contributes to positive improvement in the workplace, including improved communications (62%), career success (58%), higher levels of job satisfaction (58%) and higher staff morale and motivation (57%).

Joanna Hague CFPTM Chartered MCSI, paraplanner at Investment for Life, was mentored by Jacqueline. She said: “Having access to a mentor within our profession has been a valuable tool. For me, speaking with someone who has more experience on a certain topic than me has helped shape the way I think about financial planning and the work we do for our clients. 

“Mentoring is one of those things that can’t be found by reading books or using the internet. It has given me someone who listens and offers personalised advice based on their own experiences – whether it is regarding technical areas of the planning we do, preparing for a qualification or discussing areas of proposition to clients.” 

Jacqueline said: “Mentoring Joanna turned into a lifelong friendship. However, it has also given me more than that. I found a personal benefit from mentoring in my career and personal life. 
“Many mature financial planners want to put something back in the profession that has given them so much. Before now, there hasn’t been a formal structure at CISI that has allowed them to do so. Mentoring gives one a great feeling that you can support and guide your mentee along their journey. It is still their journey – and you can be proud that you helped them by challenging their thinking and perhaps behaving differently as a result. 

“I can see the long-term benefits. Like a pebble in a pond, I helped Joanna and now she is helping others see the value of financial planning and applies that in her daily work as well. Joanna is now an advocate of the financial planning profession. I’m constantly being rewarded – I call her and use her as a sounding board too so it works both ways.”
Nicola Watts CFPTM Chartered FCSI, director of Jane Smith Financial Planning, is a mentor on the scheme. She says that the benefits are for both parties. “It is so rewarding in terms of seeing the mentee’s progress, and it is really good for both of us, not only guiding her [the mentee], but also giving me ideas and processes that we can accommodate into our own business, for example a great discussion on whether we should provide a rough quote to a client before then providing them with a definitive one. There’s obviously pros in terms of pre-warning the client of what to expect and being able to deal with any objections during a first meeting, but what if it ends up being way off, and how might you avoid this?”

Nicola says helping a mentee think of routes to different solutions is a rewarding aspect of mentoring, for both the mentor and the mentee.  

“My mentee is a paraplanner training to be a financial planner. My experience with being a mentor is that there are many instances where there is no right or wrong answer. For example, at what point do you discuss fees with a new client? Do you give them an indication there and then or provide it within a written document after the meeting? This provoked a good discussion between my mentee and I about the pros and cons of using either process.”
The process If a financial planning professional is considering becoming a mentor, these are some questions they should put to themselves:
  • Are they interested in helping others to succeed? Even if the mentee may surpass them in achievement?
  • Are they reliable, honest, and trustworthy to keep things confidential?
  • Are they capable of active listening and not interrupting? Are they able to reflect  the relevant issues and check understanding, minimising assumptions and prejudices?
  • Are they empathetic? Can they convey understanding of their experience without saying ‘me too’?
  • Are they able to question someone sensitively but empowering to help them explore the mentee’s own issues?
  • Can they pass on their knowledge and expertise clearly, encouragingly and helpfully? 
Joining the CISI Financial Planning Mentoring SchemeIf you want to join the CISI scheme as a mentee you should:
  • Aspire to progress within the financial planning profession or to obtain the CFPTM designation
  • Be a member of the CISI
  • Be a member of the Financial Planning Forum
If you want to sign up as a mentor you should:
  • Be an active CFP professional
  • Be a member of the Financial Planning Forum
The CISI provides a mentoring timeline, which roughly outlines the process for both mentor and mentee. 

In the first stages, both parties should establish expectations and build rapport. These expectations should include how often meetings will occur, and the duration of meetings. The structure and format of meetings is decided by both parties, such as doing it face-to-face, through Skype or over the phone. The mentee should arrive to their first meeting with clear goals and expectations, and this is a good opportunity for the mentor to ask questions about personal experiences and skills to better understand their abilities. 

Mentees should start to achieve some of the outlined goals in the middle stage of the mentoring journey, and should be thinking more critically and understand problem-solving techniques. This is an appropriate time for the mentor to stimulate the mentee to help them think critically and for the long term and offer constructive feedback on their performance. The mentee should at this point have identified their strengths and weaknesses, and be feeding back on efforts towards working on these. The mentee should also assess if the current structure of meetings work, or if they need to be refreshed. 

At the end of the process, the mentee should have reached their goals, or at least a clear understanding of their route to them. The mentor should have developed a more equal relationship with their mentee, as the mentee progresses through the financial planning profession, or obtaining their CFP qualification. 

Some CFP professionals may be concerned about potential liability if they discuss a client case. The CISI scheme is based purely on voluntary roles and there is no liability on either party. The primary role for the mentor is not to provide client advice, but to support their mentee's progress as a financial planner, paraplanner and as an aspiring CFP professional, improving their skills, knowledge and work performance.

Nicola says the process for signing up as a mentor was surprisingly easy, quick and within two days, she had been assigned her mentee. 

“I would really encourage others to get involved,” says Nicola. “It is not a massive time commitment. We spend an hour on the phone each month and it is maybe another 15 minutes or so of preparation before our call."

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, please fill in the relevant form by clicking one of the buttons below.

Mentor application

Mentee application

After signing up, the CISI will pass your request on to a mentor or mentee, and parties are then free to contact one another.

Seen a blog, news story or discussion online that you think might interest CISI members? Email bethan.rees@wardour.co.uk.
Published: 28 May 2019
  • Financial Planning
  • The Review
  • mentoring
  • mentee
  • financial planning
  • CISI
  • CFP

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