So it’s the 3rd birthday of the lang cat. Not doing the self-indulgent bit this time, but it’s been and continues to be a hell of a ride. Thanks to all who’ve helped us on the way, and thanks to those who’ve reminded us why we want to be on the ride too.

Rather than sitting around eating cake, I headed down today to the Paraplanners Powwow, an unconference, for paraplanners in a gorgeous part of England near Banbury, held in the coolest venue I’ve ever spoken in, a teepee. There were about 70 folk there, and it looked like a great event (I was the last man on, so it was mainly off-colour gags rather than actual content).

Before I went on I got to listen to a debate session, and I tell you what, these guys get it. They get the new world, they get the importance of doing things right, they get the importance of technology and they get ethics too. It strikes me that, paraplanner’ might be the wrong name for these guys. Where they’re really let loose they are absolutely financial planners; they are constructing the plans for the clients to use. The adviser is like a client director in an agency; skilled at relationships and bringing technical detail to life; brilliant at questioning and teasing out the facts, and awesome at briefing the detail they find into the (para)planners back at base.

Before anyone starts, I know about regulated status, PI cover and so on. That’s all true, and most paraplanners haven’t started businesses, unlike many advisers. All relevant. But for a moment, there, I got a sense of how the profession could work differently, and maybe a bit better.

I heard about clients a lot. I heard a genuine desire to engage people in (an amount of) detail about the planning process, so they understand how much goes into it. Planning isn’t dull! It’s incredibly relevant, and important, and personal, and emotional for clients. Help them understand more and watch them sign up to fees with pleasure. This has nothing to do with gearboxes and engines and not needing the detail. This is one ‘really positive’ way to engage people more fully in their financial futures.

Anyway, I left feeling really up, and that the future of the profession (many paraplanners will go on to become advisers/planners) is in good hands.

I can’t think of a better way to spend our third birthday.