Intro: 00:00 This episode was recorded live at United, the 2019 AFA conference in Adelaide. The Association of Financial Advisers is the association of choice for financial advice professionals, and it powers them to transform the lives of Australians through quality financial advice. For more information, check out afa.asn.au.
Hello and welcome to the Goals Based Advice Podcast where I have conversations with pioneers of the new world of financial advice. I’m your host, Fraser Jack, and I want to thank you so much for tuning in today.
I’d also like to thank our supporting partners Advice Intelligence for powering this podcast. To the crew at Oh My Pod, thank you for editing these podcasts and getting them out so efficiently, and of course thank you to the Association of Financial Advisers for having us here at their conference in the wonderful city of Adelaide.
I’m very lucky to be joined by our paraplanner of, I don’t know, let’s make up an award, paraplanner of the year, Hayley Knight. Welcome.
Hayley Knight: 00:59 Well, thank you very much. Firstly, paraplanner of the year, maybe not so much. Not great at the old paraplanning anymore, but I’m good at talking.
Fraser Jack: 01:10 Do you think if we talk about that award enough that the AFL will have to start ...
Hayley Knight: 01:14 Listen, there’s already stuff in the works and I think next year we’re going to see some real movement there. So just a little heads-up for all the paraplanners out there, we are thinking about you and you’re going to get that recognition soon.
Fraser Jack: 01:27 Fantastic. Now, Hayley, do you want to give us a quick overview of you at the moment?
Hayley Knight: 01:33 Yeah, so I’ve been in the financial services industry for about 15 years and most of that has been in paraplanning. About seven years ago I took over a outsource paraplanning business, which is a contract paraplanning services, and today we’ve got a team of over 25 paraplanners contractors, and it’s headed up by myself and Karen Glover, who’s another manager.
I don’t write plans really at all myself anymore. I’m actually not a great paraplanner, but I understand paraplanning and the industry quite well, so my role is essentially to manage a team and make sure that everybody’s happy.
Fraser Jack: 02:22 Yep. Now, give us your background. How did you get into this?
Hayley Knight: 02:26 Into paraplanning? I actually kind of fell into it. I started a traineeship as a teller at the local Credit Union and did my Certificate III in Financial Services, and then I just got to chatting with someone in the lunchroom one day and she said, “Oh, I do this where I pick all these investments and we basically show people what to do with their money.” And I thought, “Wow, I would absolutely love to do that.”
So that’s what I did. I started as a junior paraplanner, studied and worked really hard and completed my study and then got my paraplanning experience that way, I think.
Fraser Jack: 03:13 Fantastic. We’re here at the conference and there was a session this morning that you were MCing. Tell us about that.
Hayley Knight: 03:24 Ah, yeah. That was the paraplanner breakfast. So this is the first time we’ve really ... it’s basically the start of something amazing we’re going to be doing with paraplanning through the AFA paraplanner Pulse.
We very much recognize that there’s a gap in conferences at the moment where they are very adviser-focused. Paraplanners just don’t attend because they’re not really for us, and so this year we’ve started to introduce things like the paraplanner breakfast, and you’ll see a lot about my Pulse friends’ state chairs here promoting the Pulse, and the breakfast was essentially about this morning is connecting paraplanners together, making them understand that there are people here who care. We want to see you grow and support you.
We had Michelle Hoskin, our little Miss Wow, who is absolutely amazing, talk us through what they’re doing over in the UK with paraplanning, which will blow your mind. But they’ve got some fantastic international standards that they’re talking about with paraplanning, and it’s just so motivating to see and talk to someone who just has so much energy for this and has been there and done that and can help us through this very baby stage Pulse community, which we’re trying to grow now.
Fraser Jack: 04:55 Fantastic. So the paraplanning Pulse with the AFA, are you able to give us some insights and how that came about?
Hayley Knight: 05:02 Yeah. We basically recognize a bit of a gap, and after seeing it a bit on the ... We’ve got a couple of other paraplanning groups, the paraplanner hub on Facebook, which is amazing, headed up by Mel Drago, and the culture there it was just basically snapped up and grew very quickly and you could see that paraplanners were just screaming out to have more connection, more network. But they also want a bigger kind of picture, as in like an association or some kind of body to represent. And just having discussions with the AFA, they were already looking into this area and things just kind of fell into place from there.
So we all can see this gap and it’s just about connecting with those paraplanners and getting that resource to them, but also understanding them as well and making sure that we’re representing what they actually want, as opposed to what my opinion is or AFA’s opinion is.
So the Pulse has only been launched for I think about eight weeks now, and we’ve got about 200 members in their Facebook page now and it’s growing very quickly. So we’re seeing a really good, strong response from it.
Fraser Jack: 06:33 Yep. Talking to Michelle, one of the challenges she sees, and it’s probably reflected in these early days, but just getting paraplanners along to these conferences and getting out of the businesses, and in Michelle’s terms she seems to think that often they don’t get allowed to go out to the conferences. How do we change that?
Hayley Knight: 06:52 It was amazing. Michelle mentioned that as well this morning, and she said nearly half of her audience will register and pay for the event but the night before drop out, and she said it’s primarily because the employer, which is typically the adviser, says there’s too much going on in the office, I need you back here.
So what we’re trying to do, well, what our objective is is to change the whole senior paraplanning in terms of advisers seeing the value in their paraplanners developing and growing and learning new skills, and the way that they’re going to do that is connecting with their outside communities and learning these extra skills that they’re just not going to get if they stay in this current little box.
So it’s about changing the adviser’s opinion and giving value and making sure the adviser can see that value as well to encourage them to get to more of these events.
Fraser Jack: 07:58 Yeah, it’s certainly a time thing too, isn’t it, like making sure that they’re able to go, able to get out of the office, able to not get dragged back for that last minute plan.
Hayley Knight: 08:08 Absolutely. The thing is there’s always going to be work, right? There will always be work. And I think these events are just so important. Just having conversations with people and seeing how are you actually going? What is it like for you? I’m experiencing this and I’m experiencing that.
Just having those conversations, it will unite people and we really are focused on paraplanners, because as I said before this, there’s been nothing like this out there for paraplanners, so it’s really important that we connect now.
Fraser Jack: 08:46 Yeah. I spoke to Michelle after that session and she sort of mentioned that, well, the conversation was really around the competence and pride that was shown from the paraplanning community after that, like from the beginning of the, you know, from yesterday, say, to after that was huge.
Hayley Knight: 09:02 Yes. Yes. So, just in general, a lot of paraplanners they’re sitting back and just watching the Pulse to see where we move, and they’re slowly warming up to us. And then this morning when there was a breakfast just for paraplanners, I feel like they felt like it was more of a safe space. You know, we’re all here, let’s talk about this. And I think slowly they’re going to warm up to this idea of being heard and being seen.
Fraser Jack: 09:36 Fantastic. And so where are we going to from here?
Hayley Knight: 09:40 I’m really excited. We’ve got some pretty amazing plans in place with the AFA. It’s just about nailing out those kind of details and making a few bigger decisions.
But our focus right now is to make sure that when a paraplanner signs up to AFA membership, they get that value instantly. So we’re talking training, resources, webinars. Anything that we can do to help them, we will do that.
So our focus right now is working out what that value is, what paraplanners want, and getting it into place so that it’s ready for them when they sign up.
Fraser Jack: 10:22 And will you have state-based events as well?
Hayley Knight: 10:25 Yes. It’s going to primarily be online, because our paraplanners are across Australia. They’re everywhere. They’re working from homes, in the capital cities, everywhere. So we’re going to a combination, but the majority of it is going to be online so that paraplanner can log on our webinar at lunchtime, do it, and they can stay in the office. They don’t need to take an afternoon off to leave the office and go and do that.
A lot of our community are a lot more engaged online, so we will still have the in-person events because we’re still think that’s very important, and they’ll look like little peer pods essentially, in capital cities or places where there’s a few paraplanners who want to meet up. It’ll just be quite informal, let’s have a breakfast together, talk about a relevant discussion, and so it will be a combination, but the focus will be online.
Fraser Jack: 11:21 Okay. And if we’re sitting here in 12 months’ time, what does success look like for you with regards to this community?
Hayley Knight: 11:28 Oh, success for me, I would love to see 50 paraplanners at the next conference next year. I’d love to see paraplanner awards. Not just one, a couple of different awards. And we’ve got some very interesting things coming in with international standards for paraplanners and I’d love to have that in place for them.
So, big goals, but the Pulse team are amazing, they’re motivated, and we’ll get it done.
Fraser Jack: 12:04 Fantastic. So you have a lot of work to do obviously, but if the confidence from this morning can spill over into the next 12 months, I think it’s certainly achievable.
Hayley Knight: 12:12 Absolutely. Michelle is going to be key. Her energy’s amazing, so we’re constantly drawing off that and we’ll be referring back to her saying, what would you do here? So I think she’ll be a real driver in that situation.
Fraser Jack: 12:25 Fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on the show-
Hayley Knight: 12:27 Thanks for having me, Fraser.
Fraser Jack: 12:27 ... and sharing your experience. What are the great things that you found from this conference?
Hayley Knight: 12:34 I think this is a really important time in the industry for everyone to get together and talk, and I think just in that I feel like the mood has changed already from yesterday. I think advisers are becoming more relaxed and they’re realizing that we’re actually all in this together.
That’s probably the best thing, just to see that stress level just drop off a little bit so that they know that they’re supported. Probably the key takeout for me from this.
Fraser Jack: 13:08 Fantastic. Thank you so much.
Hayley Knight: 13:09 Thanks, Fraser.
Fraser Jack: 13:10 If you haven’t already, I’d love you to subscribe to the podcast on your podcast platform of choice. And to continue the conversation, head over to our social media channels. We’ll catch you next time.
Disclaimer: This document is a transcription obtained through a third party. There is no claim to accuracy on the content provided in this document, and divergence from the audio file are to be expected. As a transcription, this is not a legal document in itself, and should not be considered binding to advice intelligence, but merely a convenience for reference.