Hayley Knight, director of Contract Paraplanning Services (CPS) and AFA Paraplanner Pulse National Chair, Australia, is hosting a panel discussion at the conference, shining a light on paraplanning in Australia
by Bethan Rees
Register for the CISI Paraplanner Conference 2020, for both members and non-members
At this year's virtual CISI Paraplanner Conference (24–25 September), Hayley Knight will be joined by some of the shining lights of Australian paraplanning to bring delegates a flavour of the day-to day-work, the challenges, career progression and achievements of paraplanners.
In the run-up to this, we spoke to Hayley to find out more about her career, why a healthy work-life balance is so important, and the main differences between paraplanning in Australia versus the rest of the world.
Your job description on LinkedIn is "matchmaker for advisers and paraplanners" at CPS. Can you talk a bit about what that entails?
Being in outsourcing, the most important part of my job is working with the right people, both my team and clients. Every client and paraplanner that works with CPS is profiled. We ask detailed questions to get to know who you are and what you value in addition to the standard work stuff. From there, my job is to match the right paraplanner with the perfect adviser and find a synergy between them. Consider it to be a work version of The Bachelor [TV dating show].
You're a huge advocate for the importance of a work-life balance, and you believe work should only play one small part in life. How do you balance your work and life?
As a business owner, the hardest thing for me was to switch off. In the early days, I found myself thinking about work on weekends and late at night and I wasn't present for my family. So, I designed my business around my highest value, which is time with the people I love. I only work a few hours a day, three days a week because I have an amazing team that surrounds me, and the business doesn't need me on a daily basis to thrive and grow.
It's about creating systems of automation but mostly about the people you work with. I trust my team completely. No one needs to report what they did that day or what hours they work because I want them to work as if they own the business. And it is in that approach that I have found my freedom. I can go weeks without even checking in and the business is absolutely fine (I did this in July 2020). I wasn't swamped with emails or calls when I returned because I own the business as opposed to it owning me. Successful self-employment is about making your business work for you, otherwise you're better off being an employee. Decide what it is that you want from self-employment and create that.
What would you say is the most challenging part of your job?
Talking with paraplanners who feel underappreciated and not respected in their roles. I feel this urge to step in and give the adviser a lesson on how important paraplanners actually are to their business, but I know that this won't solve anything. Instead, I make sure the paraplanner feels supported and advise on their alternative options but more than anything, keep reminding them that it's not a reflection on them. There are incredible advisers out there who value their team, it's just sometimes a matter of 'sorting through the rubbish' before you find the right employer for you.
And finally, what would you say are the main differences between paraplanning in Australia vs the rest of the world?
There are so many similarities when it comes to paraplanning in Australia and the UK, but in Australia we seem to be a little behind when it comes to finding our voice.
Until recently, we had no organisation or association just for paraplanners. The AFA Paraplanner Pulse is a community of practice, which we are hoping will provide a sector body for paraplanners to use their voice and be heard rather than just being grouped in with advisers. In the US and Germany, we are seeing a strong emergence of some really interesting technology, such as cameras that read body language that could indicate the client's understanding of advice given, and a focus on using technology to scale up advice practices. Overall, I see the UK as leaders when it comes to representing paraplanners in their sector and we have a lot to learn from them, especially in that area.