Meet the Experts: Behind the Scenes at Emery Little

We’re aware that a lot of the time, the person whom you as a client come into regular contact with at Emery Little is your financial planner; the personal face of your investment plans and aspirations. But behind this knowledgeable face is a whole team of other specialists, applying their expertise and experience to inform, manage and support your financial plans. We feel we want you to ‘meet’ these people and give you a sense of Emery Little as a whole.

In the past few months we’ve introduced you to our Chief Executive, our Director of Operations, and several of our Planners. This month we turn to the Paraplanning team, and chat to Satu Flynn, our Paraplanner Team Leader. Originally from Finland, Satu came to the UK as a 19-year-old au pair, before the twists and turns of life brought her to Emery Little seven years ago. She talked to us about her story, the mysteries of what ‘paraplanning’ is exactly, and about keeping Finnish traditions alive with her two sons.

Over to Satu…

I came to England from Finland on my 19th birthday as an au pair. Over the years I picked up a degree in psychology, and jobs as a nursing assistant, cleaner, plug maker, pick packer - you name it, I have probably done it! Along the way I also acquired two boys, and after a few years of being a stay-at-home mum, I embarked on the journey that would carry me to Emery Little. In 2004 I saw an ad in the Hitchin Comet (I still remember it looking like a rather ‘dodgy’ old-style classified ad!) for a temporary administration job in Stevenage. It turned out to be an admin support role at Norwich Union (Aviva), and within two weeks of starting I was offered a permanent position. The job was a little repetitive but as Aviva encouraged qualifications, I took my two CII (Chartered Insurance Institute) exams.

The concept of ‘paraplanning’ came to my attention, and it sounded cool. Around 2006 I landed my first paraplanner job in an independent financial advisor firm in Hatfield. At that time no-one really had a clue what the term ‘paraplanner’ really meant - even in the financial services industry. I have been doing paraplanning in various forms ever since, taking more exams along the way to become fully qualified. 

As for joining the Emery Little team, I still remember the miserable October evening, pouring with rain, when I sat at red traffic lights commuting back from work, unhappy with my then current position. I got a call from a recruitment agency regarding an experienced paraplanner role in Hemel. I declined. But the agent convinced me to go for an interview and after attending, there was no option to say no. Emery Little got me hooked from ‘hello’ really, as sad as it sounds! Seven years later I have not regretted saying yes, even with the painful commute.

Paraplanning might sound a mysterious concept, but it’s essentially providing expert qualified support to the planners and business administration team. Paraplanners take care of the factual and technical background to client meetings, meaning that the Planners can be fully present and properly engaged in the meeting – listening and talking to the client.

Our real skill is to take a lot of information from these meetings and turn it into clear written documents to communicate to the client what is being proposed, without it becoming another piece of complex writing full of financial jargon that the client will struggle to translate.

I love being trusted to do this, knowing all the ins and outs of each client’s assets, and working out practical solutions in order to deliver their financial plans. We have to ensure that we’re meeting all the regulatory requirements, and we’re always looking for ways to reduce tedious paperwork for the client too. 

In some ways we’re a little bit like an internal police force! We need to make sure the Planners can be confident in what is being proposed is possible in practice, confident that it makes sense and that the stats and maths add up. At Emery Little in particular we have a real drive for continuous development in technical ability to add to that confidence.

Outside of work, at present I am focussing on obtuse sausage dog training! Merlin is now nine months old, and with lockdown rules being little bit relaxed we have started puppy school on Saturdays. Apart from that, I read a lot, and sometimes bake a little sourdough loaf or an apple cake or two… 

My family is very ‘Finnish’, demonstrated by the presence of IKEA and all things Finland in our home. We even celebrate Christmas on 24th December (the boys are really happy as they get two Christmases each year)! We love our trips to ‘back home’, chilling out in a cabin, and jumping into a lake from hot sauna. Hopefully the opening of our own sauna is happening in 2022 😊.