Following the success of our 2015 graduate scheme (you can see Kate and Simon on our Team page) we have now commenced our second intake of future Paraplanning stars. We will be looking to take on at least two new members of staff for our Darlington office, to help support the existing team and begin their own paraplanner training.

What can we offer you?

We can offer you a defined career path, a structured learning programme, and we will support you to complete your Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning – paid for by us! If you want to continue studying, or even specialise in a certain area, we will support that too. Here in the office we offer a relaxed working environment, casual dress code, excellent holiday allowance and potential bonuses.

Who are we looking for?

The ideal Para-Sols candidate will be someone who is genuinely enthusiastic, not afraid to ask questions and learn as they go. As a modern, forward thinking company we welcome someone with fresh ideas. We are also looking for someone with self-discipline who has the ability to manage their own workload and is always a team player. A graduate with any degree subject can apply – one of our last graduates studied Zoology! The only must is a genuine interest in a career in Financial Services.

So how do I apply?

You can apply now by sending an up to date copy of your CV and a covering letter telling us why you think a career in paraplanning is for you, to The scheme is now open, with the closing date for applications being Friday 17th June. We will be shortlisting applications and inviting successful applications to an assessment day in our Darlington Head Office on Friday 24th June 2016.

We look forward to meeting you!

The Para-Sols Team


*For a full job specification and further details, email

Our Trainee Paraplanner David went to The PFS Q1 2016 Conference recently and provided a summary of what was covered on the day.

1. Will 2016 be a better year for financial markets?

Neil Dobson from Invesco Perpetual presented first at the event and gave an overview of the economy.

2015 was a challenging year for investors. With equities, there has been significant divergence across the different global regions and sectors. Fixed Interest Securities appear to be over valued and have struggled over 2015, but have made positive returns over most indices. This has lead to some investors turning to property to seek returns.

In 2016, global growth is expected to be sub par. The US is near the end of the process but other economies – the UK, and then the Eurozone and Japan – are lagging further behind. One thing that is guaranteed about the future is uncertainty.

There is continued speculation of whether there will be more Quantitative Easing in the future. Uncertainty continues about when (or if) interest rates will increase. There are now predictions that interest rates will stay low for a good few years yet.

2. The new dividend tax regime in April 2016

Andy Woollon from Zurich gave a presentation and provides example scenarios on the new dividend tax regime. This will affect many business owners, investors and trustees of discretionary trusts in the UK. It is expected that the impact will be much greater to clients than they may be aware. The following is a summary of is now in place:

• The 10% tax credit previously in place has been scrapped.
• There is a new Dividend Allowance of £5,000 a year, but this will not apply for trustees of discretionary trusts
• Basic Rate tax: from 0% to 7.5%
• Higher Rate tax: from 25% to 32.5%
• Additional rate tax: from 30.6% to 38.1%
• There will be a net dividend approach in the future, rather a gross up approach
• The Dividend Allowance will not reduce total income for tax purposes. Dividends within the allowance will still count towards an individual’s income.

Andy also discussed the new personal savings allowances coming into force, £1,000 for basic rate and £500 for higher rate.

3. There are even more changes to pensions that may happen in the new tax year

Partnership gave a presentation to highlight the changes in pensions that may happen in the new tax year. There is much in the press to suggest people are losing faith in pensions. Following much speculation, the only confirmed changes are:

• All Pension Input Periods now aligned to the tax year, with the standard Annual Allowance at £40,000.
• Tapered Annual Allowance will result in a £1 reduction for every £2 over £150,000. The minimum Annual Allowance will be £10,000.
• The Lifetime Allowance has been reduced from £1.25m to £1m and may be indexed annually in line with CPI from 6th April 2018.
• Fixed Protection 2016 and Individual Protection 2016 can both be applied for from July. There is an interim process available for those looking to crystallise their benefits before then.

In addition:

• There are ongoing talks about a second hand annuity market still happening.
• There are talks about capping exit charges to make the transfer out process smoother.
• The introduction of the LISA has continued to fuel speculation about an eventual change to the pension tax relief system.

4. Are clients who own businesses protected?

A case study was done to give an example scenario of two owners of a business and the implications that would occur in the business on death. Businesses need to consider how they would protect against having to repay loans, what to do when they suffer loss of profits and recruitment for example. The case looked into the various options within business protection.

5. Are you talking to clients in the right way?

Throughout the day, Bernie De Souza gave his words of wisdom on the phrases advisers should use with clients to secure client meetings. In short, he suggests you should slot in the following phrases to help build rapport with clients.

• Well you know how…. (discuss event)
• I’ve just found out…(discuss what happened)
• Would it be okay if…
• So I’ve prepared an agenda, do you want to add anything or is this okay?

This is just a brief summary of the days events, but it was a good mix of technical, updates on the many, many changes, and some softer skills. I highly recommend getting along to one of your local quarterly events if you haven’t already.

This week Para-Sols director Cathi, has been meeting Paraplanners nationwide at a series of Purely Paraplanning events beginning in London & Bournemouth. These events have been a great chance to focus solely on the profession and give it more exposure, rather than adviser focused events. As it becomes an increasingly popular and in demand career, Cathi has been discussing her thoughts on the matter in the latest issue of Professional Adviser…


I have wracked my brains but genuinely cannot think of any other profession that is in the same boat as paraplanning. It is both relatively new (in the grand scheme of careers) and steeped in tradition (being part of the financial services industry, similar to financial advisor nyc and based elsewhere).

This puts it in a unique position – fresh enough to be in charge of its own destiny, but part of something bigger, meaning that its destiny actually needs mapping. Or does it?

If we think of other new roles that have emerged in the last 10 years – digital marketing consultants, app developers, Zumba instructors – these are all roles that have emerged or developed substantially in recent years, but don’t seem to have the structure of paraplanning.

So what does paraplanning have already?

  • Its own monthly paraplanning magazine
  • A variety of paraplanning specific awards
  • Its own forum (the shiny new Paraplanners Powwow)
  • Its own apprenticeship
  • Its own events – both national ones supported by PFS and CISI, and smaller ones supported by providers

And – 100% speculation on my part – what might it have in the future?

  • Its own industry wide standard (currently being discussed)
  • A compulsory minimum qualification (has been discussed on and off)
  • Its own qualification titles – for example, Chartered paraplanner rather than Chartered financial planner (has been raised several times)
  • An element of regulation or liability (not been discussed as far as I know, and hopefully stays that way)

I’ve had a search and Zumba instructors definitely have none of these things.

Two questions then:

1. If paraplanning has so much more infrastructure, why is it still so little known outside of the industry? (I’m sure more people on the streets have heard of our Zumba friend than a paraplanner!)

2. Do we need more “stuff” in the industry? Or is there such a thing as too much?

I would urge all paraplanners to get involved in shaping their profession and make sure their voices are heard

As paraplanners, we do not have the regulatory burden of financial planners. And given that the regulatory burden is the one thing I have heard advisers complain about more than anything, I can only conclude that is a good thing.

But is the paraplanning profession naturally developing along the lines of the financial planning profession, simply by virtue of being within the same overarching industry?

I am genuinely excited to be in an industry where we can shape its future, but are we in danger of shaping it too much, of creating unnecessary rules, structure and limitations that currently are not there?

In terms of how much is too much, I do not know the answer. But I do think it is extremely important that all those affected – that is to say, all current and potential future paraplanners – are involved in working it out.

I would urge all paraplanners to get involved in shaping their profession and make sure their voices are heard.

The Powwows organised by Richard Allum are a great place to start – and they do not even require you to leave your office!

There are also Linkedin groups to join and the aforementioned forum to voice your opinion.

Finally, I would urge paraplanners, where possible, to get along to paraplanner events, meet their peers and get involved.

The future is definitely exciting for us and we should all be part of designing its path.


Taken from the latest edition of Professional Adviser.

Paraplanner Grant provides us with a great case study on a clients retirement income strategy using the state pension…


Client is 68 year old and he has been working full time as a higher rate taxpayer until September 2015. He has approximately £128,000 in cash reserves which since full and immediate retirement in September, he has been using to meet normal expenses.

Retirement assets consist of a fully crystallised pension valued at £470,000 and an onshore bond valued at £288,000, which commenced with an investment of £300,000 in June 2015, with no withdrawals taken since.

Having continued to work full time beyond his state pension age, he chose to defer the state pension. He now wishes instead of increasing the state pension payment to take this deferred income as a lump sum, which is permitted for those that reached state pension age before 6th April 2016. The lump sum will be used for discretionary spending purposes and will therefore not be considered as part of his immediate income requirements.

The ultimate retirement income goal is £3,000 net per month.


To meet the income objective from his assets and enable payment of the state pension lump sum in the most tax efficient manner, the structure can be as follows:

As the client is a higher rate taxpayer, in respect of his time employed from March 2015 to September 2015, it would be more efficient to continue to use cash deposits to fund needs until the new tax year starting April 6th 2016.
From here, the first thing to do is use the personal allowance available to him which for 2016/17 is £11,000.

The commencement of his deferred state pension provides £115 per week or approximately £5,980 of taxable income leaving just over £5,000 available within the allowance. We can instruct the crystallised personal pension to provide drawdown income payments totaling £5,000 per annum in the first year.
This provides just under £11,000 in taxable income keeping the client within the nil rate tax band.

He is still £25,000 per annum short of his retirement income target so we can look to the bond to assist with this.

The original bond investment of £300,000 means a tax deferred annual withdrawal of 5% would provide £15,000 per annum. As the client started the bond in June and has not taken any withdrawals since, he has some cumulative allowance left, which will be worth a whole year, 5% , by June 2016. Anticipating this, we can take an extra £10,000 over the year from the bond which keeps within the cumulative withdrawal allowance and provides the full £25,000 in addition to taxable income needed to meet his target of £36,000 per annum net.

The state pension he had deferred but now wishes to take as a lump sum can be paid to him immediately following the start of the 2016/17 tax year. The value of this is circa. £19,500 and the way this is taxed is the amount is charged at the marginal income tax rate the lump sum starts in rather than what bracket it would end up in.

The practical effect of this is that the marginal tax rate applied prior to when the lump is received is the tax rate applicable even if the value of the lump sum would take an individual into a higher bracket.

In this scenario, by keeping the taxable income element of retirement income for 2016/17 to below the personal allowance, the state pension lump sum can be paid and be applied to the nil rate tax bracket. This represents a tax saving of almost £4,000, compared to paying tax at basic rate, which is achieved by firstly deferring the lump sum until the 2016/17 year and then planning the way in which income needs are met in this year.

In future years, the income requirement can be achieved through maximum bond withdrawals with drawdown pension income meeting the remainder of the need.

State pension lump sum

Although the 6th April 2016 represents a change in the state pension and the abolition of the ability to defer the pension in exchange for a lump sum, individuals who reached SPA prior to this date could still defer and later take a lump sum. In addition, those already in receipt of the state pension could stop taking income and defer the pension in exchange for a future lump sum (this can only be done once.)

This means that while the rules are changing for new retirees, it is possible quite a significant number of individuals will have deferred or choose to defer their state pension in the coming years meaning awareness of the this lump sum taxation quirk can provide excellent tax planning potential.

We have such a great team here and we want you all to get to know us a little better, so we’ve quizzed our newbie Cheryl to find out more…

Favourite Album…

Savage Garden Greatest Hits – (I literally listened to this every day from Christmas to May the year I got it haha)

Favourite Film…

Burlesque! Cher is my Idol

If you were a chocolate bar what would you be…

Milky bar – om nom!

Your ultimate holiday destination…

I’ve always wanted to go to Africa on a Safari

If you could have one superpower what would it be…

To be able to shrink to Thumbelina size!

My team would describe me as….


What would your last meal be…

Margherita Pizza

If you were stranded on a desert island what 1 item would you take…

Scissors?? both useful and a weapon!

Favourite word…


Most hated word…


Most often heard saying…

‘I woke up like this!!’

Favourite Actor…

Johnny Depp

Favourite Book… 

A Shade of Vampire Series

Favourite Emoji…


Life Motto…

Don’t Just fly… Soar

When Cathi Harrison, managing director of outsourced paraplanning company Para-Sols, was elected to the board of the Personal Finance Society in mid 2014 it was to help the professional body to better engage with what was recognised as an increasingly important section of the society’s membership.

PFS members who put their job description as paraplanner number around 3,000, the second largest group within the membership.

One of the first tasks for Cathi was to set up a Paraplanner Practitioner Panel, populated by volunteer, practicing paraplanners. The Panel was established in September 2014 and there are now nine paraplanners involved.

“The panel is the main channel for the Personal Finance Society to learn what paraplanner members want and need and for direct feedback on planned events and support initiatives,” Cathi says.

“The panel is voluntary, it meets quarterly and those involved do things on their own time. That commitment comes from a genuine passion for being a paraplanner and giving to the paraplanning community,” she adds. “It’s one of the things I’ve always liked about being a paraplanner, it’s such a friendly, supportive community of people.”

First step: Events

The first and most obvious task for Cathi and the panel when formed, was to help shape some PFS paraplanner events and get them on the map.

The Purely Paraplanning conferences, which took place in October 2015, immediately showed that the Society was listening to paraplanners when they said they wanted events dedicated to their roles and not reconstituted adviser events.

The success of those first conferences has resulted in the Society agreeing to double the number in 2016, Cathi says. “We started off with the three Purely Paraplanning events in 2015 and we are doubling the number of events this year – there are three in April, taking place in London, Bournemouth and Haydock Park, and a further three are being planned for September.”

At its quarterly meeting in December 2015, the Panel came up with “a number of ideas for what should be included in the events” Cathi says, “and we went through them and gave feedback on what we thought would work best.”

2016 initiative: Attracting new blood

The major initiative for the Panel this year is a campaign to raise awareness of financial services as a career option, and paraplanning in particular, primarily among schools and colleges.

“We’re creating a small brochure to help promote paraplanning, which will link into a website,” Cathi explains. “People coming out of college and university now are very much online focused, so we’re developing the brochure to be handed out at careers and university graduate fairs, and that will guide them to a website that we’re going to build this year. The website will talk about financial services and paraplanning and why you should consider it as a career, including what options are available and how you would get into it – and also the fun side of the job.”

Alongside that, Cathi says the Panel is trying to ascertain what opportunities exist within the advisory market for people coming in to paraplanning, in terms of trainee or graduate schemes and so on.

“We will be looking to get together a database of any firms that are willing to bring on trainees. It will map out what skills, attributes and strengths, the paraplanning role typically needs and direct them to an online resource where they will get to see testimonials from paraplanners, the framework of qualifications available, and career paths, such as going the specialist route, or setting up a paraplanning business or even becoming a financial adviser.

“So the brochure will be light touch, showing that paraplanning exists and piquing their interest, and the website will give them a lot more information about paraplanning, what it is and what career paths there are in the industry.

“We’ll also point them to how they can engage on Twitter and LinkedIn so they can see how the paraplanning community interacts and how people help each other.

“It’s about getting it out there and letting people know what’s available that they might be interested in.”

Given time and resources the panel can’t tackle everything it wants to and by necessity has to pick and choose its projects.

“When we set up the panel we all put in ideas about what we’d like to achieve. We came up with about 20 items where we felt we could make an impact. We then had to prioritise them.

“Getting the events up and running and the promotional brochure sorted, were among those we wanted to tackle to start with and once they are fully under way we’ll sit down and look at the list and see where next we can get things done,” Cathi says.

This is an article that originally appeared in Professional Paraplanner magazine, which can be found here: Professional Paraplanner Article