Having previously worked for a financial adviser’s practice and now as an outsourced paraplanner, I know that there are many benefits for outsourced paraplanning.  

Working on an outsourced basis, I believe, requires far greater knowledge and understanding of the industry as a whole. Why? Well generally, I feel an in-house paraplanner will focus on working on cases that are part of a centralised investment proposition or have had some sort of platform due diligence carried out, meaning you generally use the same providers and strategies regularly.

However, being outsourced allows us to work for a wide range of advisers up and down the country that specialise in all areas of financial advice. This means that on any given day we could be working on a case where a new SSAS is being set up, monies are being invested into VCT/EIS investments or dealing with defined benefit pensions, including running TVC reports and cash flow analysis. This would be in addition to your more standard mortgage, life cover, pension and investment cases.

This allows you to build up extensive knowledge and experience which advisers can find very helpful. I am often asked for my thoughts on their cases, even running them by me before they decide how they wish to proceed with the case/advice.

Given the knowledge and experience we hold, we are able to push back on advisers if we think there are issues with the case or if we feel the advice is unsuitable for the client. This could be invaluable to an adviser to help them get a third party perspective.

As we deal with so many providers, we are quick to find out the latest offerings or updates to products which can help advisers who maybe are not as aware of developments in the market.     

Outsourcing can help to save advisers a lot of time, which they can use to see more clients (or spend more time on the golf course!) – due to us having a top-quality data gathering team, that can deal with providers and chase all the required information on cases from start to finish. Therefore, given the adviser provides sufficient information about the client, we can take care of the full process providing them with a suitability report at the end.

Peter Rohden – Lead Paraplanner.

For more details on outsourcing your paraplanning, click here.

This month we officially hit double digits and turned ten! To celebrate in style, we combined our annual Summer Soiree with a huge tenth birthday party – full of good food, good company, dancing and maybe a drink or two (see image below for more details on that!).

With the launch of sister company The Art of Finance, formalising our group brand structure The Verve Group, as well as countless exam passes and an influx of new team members – this year has brought us many things to be proud of! With plenty to reflect upon, we had plenty of reasons to crack open a bottle of fizz – and we did just that!

New ventures

At the beginning of the year, we announced the launch of latest sister company and newest addition to the group – The Art of Finance – a training solution for advisers and planners to upskill their team, as well as individuals looking to take the leap into financial services. We kicked off our first cohort in May and so far, have received excellent feedback, as the training is designed to be engaging and interactive – no death by PowerPoint!

This year has been a busy one consolidating the company brands within The Verve Group structure. For those who need a reminder, The Verve Group centralises the mission of Para-Sols, Apricity Compliance, The Art of Finance and our graduate training programme, The Grad Scheme. It’s a central platform to provide financial planners, of all shapes and sizes, with the best support services around and; shout about how brilliant a career in finance is, and provide opportunities for those wanting to get into it.

Remind yourself of the full launch here.

‘We’re gonna need a bigger boat’

You may remember seeing this quote a few weeks back – it was the title of our blog where we covered the recent scale-up of our team (catch that here).

As we were celebrating over the weekend, we took a moment to reflect on how the team has grown and flourished in the last year. Compared to this time last year, we’ve welcomed eight new team members in a range of roles – paraplanners, technical researchers, and business operations. There are a few more roles that we’ve earmarked for the year ahead as we develop more of our services.

Tick, tick, tick

No, we don’t mean the sound a clock makes – that’s just us ticking off recent exams passes completed by our amazing team. Everyone is making such fantastic progress and during our celebrations, one of our paraplanners, Holly, received special recognition as she recently completed her Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning. We also presented our Colleague of the Quarter – an award voted for by the full team – so spirits were high.

We’re not entirely sure on the exact number of sore heads on Sunday morning – but judging by this (see below), we can imagine the number was pretty high. In all, it was an amazing day, celebrating amazing achievements and a full decade of Para-Sols.

Here’s to next decade – cheers!

I recently worked on a case that covered one of the quirks of legislation surrounding Fixed Protection, and the circumstances under which it can be lost.

To briefly recap on Fixed Protection, there are three types:

  • Fixed Protection 2012, which protects the Lifetime Allowance at £1,800,000.
  • Fixed Protection 2014, which protects the Lifetime Allowance at £1,500,000.
  • Fixed Protection 2016, which protects the Lifetime Allowance at £1,250,000.

Of these, Fixed Protection 2016 is the only one that is still open for applications. The main restrictions on applications are that you cannot have Primary or Enhanced Protection, or an earlier form of Fixed Protection. Unlike in the case of Individual Protection, there is no minimum pension value needed to apply.

There are several ways that Fixed Protection can be lost:

  • Making further contributions into a money purchase pension.
  • Having further benefit accrual via a defined benefits pension (note that standard revaluation of deferred benefits does not usually cause an issue).
  • Breaking transfer restrictions (this is in relation to making sure any transfers are made into a registered pension scheme).
  • Starting a new pension other than to accept a transfer of existing pension rights.

This last point is where we come to the issue surrounding pension sharing orders. Receiving a pension credit under a Pension Sharing Order (PSO) does not automatically cause a loss of Fixed Protection, unless you have set up a new pension to receive it.

Essentially, transferring funds awarded under a PSO to a brand new plan causes Fixed Protection to be lost. However, transferring the funds to an existing plan do not.

So for example, the only plan a client may have is a clunky old Personal Pension from the 1990s….in most cases, it may be tempting to source a more flexible and modern plan to receive the PSO, but this could cause a client substantial tax charges further down the line.

In these cases, make use of that clunky old Personal Pension. If at a later time, it is appropriate to review and transfer all of the benefits to something more modern, this will not affect Fixed Protection; it is the first destination of the PSO that matters!

Kate Hall – Paraplanner

Click here to view a sample of our one page ASR’s.

On 1st June, we turned the grand age of ten! Below, our Founder and Director, Cathi, shares her reflections on the last decade…

“Well – 10 years – that went fast!

The official birthday for Para-Sols is 1st June, as June 2009 is the month I did my first freelance paraplanning work and was able to do a huge invoice at the end of the month for around £40…  

I had, however, been working on the business for 3 months by this point. I had quit my employed paraplanning role, sold my car, and figured the proceeds from the car were sufficient to pay my mortgage and basic expenses for those 3 months, by which point I would surely be living the freelance dream.  

In reality, I hadn’t factored in things like needing to eat, and so by the end of the 3 months (end of May), I was completely broke. Literally the most broke I’ve ever been in my life. I was recounting a story the other day of, around this time, feeling depressed that my new business wasn’t going how I wanted, I dug around and found 20p in my flat. Literally the only 20p I had left in the world. And I went to Greggs to treat myself to an iced split which I recalled being 17p. But, when I got there, I discovered that, thanks to the wonders of inflation, they were now 25p, and I couldn’t afford one.  

I walked down to my Mum’s (obviously couldn’t afford petrol) and sat and cried at the fact I couldn’t even buy a cream cake. She gave me 10p, told me to go and buy one, and then to go and get a job, as I obviously couldn’t carry on like this. I suspect the majority of new businesses go through similar struggles and lows at the beginning, and I can easily see why many people would choose to stop at this point. I almost did.  

Fortunately for me (not so fortunately for the people who have to deal with me on a daily basis), my intense stubbornness wouldn’t let me quit just yet. I managed to get a repayment holiday on my mortgage, did some part-time waitressing (terribly) to feed myself, and, at the end of that month, was able to do my first invoice… and away we went.  

And what a ten years since! So many highs, so many challenges, so many lessons learned, and the ability to meet and work with so many wonderful people along the way. I’ll be forever grateful to those who have taken a chance on me and Para-Sols; the team, especially the early employees (I’m looking at you Jo Campbell) for taking the risk of joining a fledgling company. And the clients that give us the opportunity to support them and their businesses, and understood when the inevitable growing pains hit and things sometimes got difficult.  

There’s an old adage that ‘overnight success’ actually takes 10 years to achieve… and I have felt every day of those 10 years to get to where we are now! But where we are is somewhere phenomenal, with a huge amount to still look forward to as we build out the businesses within The Verve Group over the coming 10 years.  

So Happy Birthday Para-Sols; thank you to everyone that has supported us, and roll on the next 10 years! Time for an iced split or two I think…”