Women in Finance – series of blogs, episode 5

Paula Guedes, Senior Paraplanner

In our fifth episode of our Women in Finance series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Paula Guedes, one of our Senior Paraplanners. In this episode, Paula shares her inspiring story of relocating from Brazil, training to become a Paraplanner and her remarkable career progression.  

Paula embarked on her journey with Foster Denovo in April 2019 as a Paraplanner. After successfully completing her exams and gaining Chartered Status, it positioned her for a well-deserved promotion to Senior Paraplanner.  

“When I moved to the UK in 2012 from Brazil, I had just completed my degree in Physical Education. However, I felt the need for a new career path that would provide both personal and professional growth. I had always been a very analytical person, so I decided to explore the world of finance. To kickstart this journey, I initially enrolled in a Pre-Masters Economics and Finance degree at Queen Mary University, before pursuing a Masters degree in Banking and Finance at the University of Surrey.  

Studying finance not only expanded my knowledge, but it also equipped me with the necessary skills to thrive in this exciting industry. I honestly had no idea how many areas within finance there actually was until I researched thoroughly to find internships that suited my interests.  

After completing my Masters in June 2016, I started working in a company as a Wealth Manager Assistant and began studying towards my Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. In May 2017, I completed my studies and gained the certification.  

Due to my analytical and technical background, I then decided to pursue a career in Paraplanning, joining Foster Denovo as a Paraplanner in 2019. Paraplanning is a really important role within the industry and I am so pleased that this is now being recognised.  

Here, she shares her experience of motherhood and how it has fuelled her ambition and dedication to her professional growth. 

In 2020, I went on maternity leave and was excited to welcome my daughter into this world, adjusting to a new life as a family of three. Unfortunately, it coincided with the emergence of Covid, adding unexpected challenges during that time, which in the end proved to be a transformative experience that boosted my resilience.  

Having my daughter became a significant source of motivation for me in my career. When she turned one, I went back to work full-time, as I wanted to set an example and show her that it is possible to have a good career and maintain a family. I am grateful for Foster Denovo’s flexibility and understanding when it comes to putting my family first.  

When I returned from maternity leave, I was eager to take the next steps in my career. I spoke to my line manager and shared my ambition with her, and together we traced a plan to set me in the right path to become a Senior Paraplanner. We agreed on the exams I should take in order to progress, and I set myself a target to complete them within a specific timeframe. With the support of my husband and the team at Foster Denovo, I successfully completed my exams, achieving Chartered Status! I was then promoted to Senior Paraplanner.  

As for my next step, I am planning to obtain Fellowship, which is the most prestigious level of professional achievement; I am only three exams away from this recognition! 

As a wife and mother, flexibility is key for me, and Foster Denovo has given me the flexibility to maintain a healthy work-life balance.  

I would wholeheartedly encourage women to join the financial services industry, to not be afraid of taking risks in their career path (or life!) and to connect with other women to share experiences and gain valuable perspectives. 

Knowing what you want is great, but it’s also fine not to have all the answers. That’s where connecting with different women in the industry can really come in handy – they can help you figure out what clicks with you and what doesn’t. I’ve always believed that recognising what you don’t want is also a step towards the right direction. This will help you plan the next step of your journey.”