Hosts (and paraplanners) Kat Mock and Andy Marshall talk Powwow South West

With Powwow South West heading back to Bristol for its THIRD year in a row, we’ve had a little chat with 2018’s hosts and fellow paraplanners, Kat Mock and Andy Marshall to understand why this mini Powwow is firmly in their calendars each year.

Well Powwow South West is nearly here and we’ll be catching up with new and old faces from in and around Bristol again. What is it about meeting up with other paraplanners that’s so important?

Kat: Catching up with other paraplanners is great fun as, in general, they are very approachable, fun, generous with their time and passionate. Meeting up with other paraplanners tends to amplify these qualities. It’s hard not to catch on to some of the energy when sitting in a room with a load of people brimming full of ideas and plans.

Andy:  Paraplanners often work as the only person in that role in their business or as part of a small team. Being desk-based means that it is less easy to get away from the office and engage in seminars and events, particularly if you are the only paraplanner in a company. This can make it quite an isolated job role; you know that there are plenty of other people doing the same thing as you but you don’t get much contact with them.

This means that the online support networks for paraplanners are a vital means of sharing experiences and learning tips and tricks for how others cope with specific issues.

Taking the time to create a Powwow where paraplanners actually get together and talk through some of these issues in great detail is vital not only for our own improvement and development but for that of the industry as well.

Kat: For me, Powwows are a great time to take stock of what I’ve learned and what I am struggling with and then to take look around me to see if there are common themes and experiences I can draw on. While writing can be quite a solitary practice, I really feel that constantly seeking feedback and questioning why we do things can only make us better. Given how much experience we have between us, it would be a shame not to share it.

So, meeting up with other paraplanners obviously has lots of benefits, what difference has it made to you and your work as a paraplanner? 

Andy:  I have met some fantastic colleagues. People who help me with issues that I have in my working day, provide sounding boards to sense-check the advice we’re giving or my take on a particular technical issue.

I can’t begin to list all of the things that I have learned both technical and practical. They may be small, or they may be large but each in their own way helps us to be better at our jobs and thereby be better parts of our teams and provide better service to our clients.

It also provides an opportunity to find other people doing the same exam preparation as you and thereby make study groups and other ways of helping with learning.

Kat: Powwows have helped me to examine my views and opinions on paraplanning issues and work out what is important to me and why. It is refreshing to have the opportunity to explain my thoughts, listen to other people’s take on things and come to a conclusion (sometimes changing my outlook completely) in a relaxed and low pressure environment.

I have made some solid friends from the Powwows and it is wonderful to know that whether I am in-house or outsourced, there are a number of people I can call on for help if I need it. It’s also a nice feeling being asked for help by others as it makes me feel like I have something useful to share!

One of the biggest differences for me, compared with any other event is that you can always rely on finding honest feedback at a Powwow. No-one is trying to be overly positive about things to get ahead or impress people and no-one is trying to be overly negative and tear things down either. A topic can get batted around from all angles with no malice or consequences for saying what you think. This means that you can get to the nitty gritty of an issue much sooner and hopefully find a way forward.

Beyond just coming along for the topic chats, meeting other paraplanners, and eating the chocolate, what made you step-up for hosting and helping out?

Kat: I’m a sheep – All of my friends were doing it! Actually, for me, it was a good way of stepping outside my comfort zone and giving something back to a community that has given so much to me. I’ve been paraplanning since 2010 and started with absolutely no clue what I was doing. I learned to be a good paraplanner by listening to and taking advice from experienced paraplanners around me. I think it is important to continue sharing and learning.

Andy: You can’t always rely on someone else to do everything, can you?

I don’t seek the limelight, but I think I’ve got something to offer. If through my experience and by getting involved others get to understand the benefits of Powwows, then I can feel that I have done something good.

Is there much of this kind of thing going on in Bristol? 

Kat: Bristol has hosted some great Next Gen planner meetings and has a good CII/PFS presence.

Andy: There are always many, many events going on locally that provide CPD and the opportunity to learn more about an aspect of our industry. However, by attending such events it quickly becomes apparent that the majority of attendees are advisers and not paraplanners. Therefore I believe there is a need and an opportunity for events that bring paraplanners together.

Kat: For me personally, I usually have a very high workload and have to prioritise where I’m spending time out of the office. I tend to go with specific paraplanning events like the Powwow as these hold the most value for me.

Stop it! We’re blushing over here. Luckily, you don’t have long to wait until Powwow South West. What are you looking forward to this year? 

Andy: Meeting paraplanners! The ones I already know and the ones I am yet to meet. The discussions are always involved and you will always learn something new.

As yet, we haven’t divvied up who will be leading in which area or even what the potential topics are. But rest assured, those of us who have volunteered to lead this will come prepared so that the conversation never runs dry.

Kat: I’m looking forward to having a group cry over the ever-evolving MIFID charges disclosure journey and hopefully sharing some pointers on how to keep things simple and straightforward for clients.

Mainly, I’m looking forward to hearing what other paraplanners are up to, what’s challenging them and the solutions they are finding.

Andy: And there is always chocolate! AND we’re holding it in a pub!

Due to demand, we have released 10 more tickets for Powwow South West. If you want to join Kat, Andy and a room full of other paraplanners talking through 2018’s hot topics on Wednesday 6 June then book your spot here.