Strong technical knowledge and communication skills have seen last year’s Money Management Paraplanner of the Year, RSM’s Chris Cynkar, take out the top spot for the second year running.
Cyknar believes a good paraplanner must think like an adviser to identify potential strategies and issues that may arise when implementing advice.
Key to this, Cynkar said, was having strong communication skills to assist in the liaison between the client and the adviser, and it’s something this year’s winning paraplanner clearly does with ease.
“Being able to convey complex strategies to clients in a simple English is paramount in providing clear and concise advice,” Cynkar told Money Management.
Cynkar also said understanding the client’s objective is equally key, and it’s something that finalist, Mellissa Edwards, of Paraplanner.com, similarly believed was necessary to carry out the job.
“What makes a truly valuable paraplanner is ...someone who is confident enough to question strategies when needed, and highlight alternative or additional strategies that may be beneficial to a client.”
Finalist Taiki Yasushima, of Strategy First, said beyond the obvious technical competency, great paraplanners must have the ability to build relationships and work collaboratively.
Cynkar said he was vigilant in his prior research of products, ensuring he understood all the costs and features, and then comparing them to alternatives.
“It may be that they’re already on track, or potentially it’s due to those investigations that you can uncover there’s a deficiency in their existing products or strategies,” he said.
As well as extensive research and top communication skills, Cynkar said he’s proud of his strong technical knowledge and understanding of the firm’s software, XPLAN, and said he’s often the point of call for staff members needing assistance.
He’s also known for his ability to generate financial models that compare multiple scenarios and strategies, working very closely with the advisory group and developing complex work where needed.
“I am often called upon by my colleagues to review their work, provide assistance on how to set up specific advice or financial modelling scenarios or to problem solve why certain outputs didn’t come through when merging out reports,” the paraplanner said.
This year’s winner also undertakes site visits to different RSM firms, where he spends time providing face-to-face training and mentoring, helping to build relationships between staff and encourage the sharing of ideas amongst the team.
He also helps the RSM team keep up to date with changing product features, ensuring they’re always providing advice that meets the best interests of the client.