So to the Gala Dinner on day 2 of the conference. This is always good fun (who doesn’t like getting dressed up and dancing?) and this year was no exception. There was a lot of drinking, eating, some gambling for those who found the casino tables and apparently an after party. Though I was far too tired to venture to that!

The highlight of the evening however was when the IFP announced that their chosen charity this year was The Stroke Association. This was clearly a charity close to many people’s hearts given Nick Cann’s recent illness. I was able to speak to Nick a couple of times over the course of the conference and he absolutely overwhelmed me. He is as incessantly good humoured as ever, even in such adversity (which I’m sure many of us could take inspiration from) and was thoroughly enjoying being part of the conference. His energy and enthusiasm was just a joy to witness.

The speaker from the Stroke Association was a young lady called Annabel Jones. She spoke passionately about her experience of suffering a stroke at such a young age and how the society had supported her; I, for one, was a blubbering mess. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to support a charity bringing so much tangible support and hope to those who had suffered a stroke.

So, on to the final day, and my task of chairing events was made considerably easier as portion of delegates had extremely sore heads and so were very quiet and well behaved! My personal highlights from Day 3 were:

Eliza Manningham Buller

This former head of MI5 discussed leadership and change under pressure and her key tips were:

1. You don’t need to put your business on hold to implement change; they can run alongside one another

2. You can’t ever aim too high; be ambitious

3. Don’t be afraid to use outside help – and don’t be afraid to give up any monopoly you may have to get help you will benefit from.

Chris Davies – Engage Insight.

Chris talked about behavioural economics (something the FCA are actively encouraging advisers to look at) and how it can be practically implemented into an organisation. The key theme was to ensure throughout all of your communication with clients you focus on Simplicity and Saliency.

I’ve now had chance to see the initial feedback from the conference and with over 90% of respondents saying the conference either met or exceeded their expectations, it seems others enjoyed it as much as I did! The voice recordings and presentation slides will be available to attendees soon. And for anyone interested in donating, the charity being supported was

The IFP annual conference last week was, as always, one of the best industry events. It is pitched at the right level, helping people in the industry to learn and develop; rather than teaching a granny how to suck eggs! I thought I’d give a quick overview of my experience and what I’ve taken from it:

Day 1

This day was taken up with nerves and preparation for my presentation on outsourcing! Turns out no amount of prep was enough as technology let me down and so I had to present without any slides! I did what any professional does in such circumstances… panicked and did a little dance. Once the dance was over, I got on with actually talking about the benefits of outsourcing (across all functions and all industries), the way to approach it, what you should/shouldn’t hope to get from it and how to find an outsourcer that is the perfect fit for your company.

Day 2

Some of the highlights from this day were:

Mike Kellard – AXA Wealth

  • Interesting look at trends in the industry and the difference spotting those trends can make
  • I discovered that even the most basic unit trust has 14 layers of charges!

Bill Bachrach

  • Presentation on building trust with your clients and therefore a stronger relationship. Some of my favourite quotes were:

“everybody should run their own race… race against your own potential”

“trust is a by-product of a combination of the right character and competence

“get your own financial house in order”… he recommends advisers “walk their talk” and pay someone else to create and implement their own financial plan.

  • He also discussed the importance of being a leader and actually leading; if someone should be leading and isn’t, it creates a leadership vacuum into which someone else will step. This can happen with clients; “people need leading, not educating”.
  • A key recommendation of his was to record meetings; it helps to listen back and you will probably pick up many things which you didn’t hear at the time.
  • He also suggested inspiring people with positive emotions – not fear or greed.

Chris Griffiths

  • This session included throwing paper aeroplanes – all in the interests of education of course!
  • Chris focused on innovation and how it distinguishes between a leader and a follower. There were some incredibly interesting statistics from NASA which showed that we inherently have creativity at birth and it is then unlearnt throughout our lives.
  • He also talked about how damaging our thinking processes are; how many people will be reactive or selective thinkers and provided some really interesting examples to demonstrate this.
  • Brainstorming should always be in 3 stages:
  1. The obvious answers
  2. The weird and wacky answers… most people stop here but instead should push on to..
  3.  A combination of the weird and wacky with a sensible approach. This is the area that true innovation comes out.
  • He also highly recommended daydreaming as a way of solving problems! 5% of our thinking is done with our conscious and 95% is via the subconscious. Most people will try and force themselves when it comes to problem solving; but daydreaming (or “thought experimenting”!) will help us to break out of a reactive way of thinking. As long as it’s done with focus!

This was only a part of my experience and what I took away from it – but I hope it’s useful as a reminder to those who were there and also as an overview to those who were unable to attend.

The events of the gala dinner, getting to see the wonderful Nick Cann and my key points from Day 3 will be coming shortly… just as soon as I’ve finished daydreaming!

In case you haven’t yet heard, the FCA have now deferred the capital adequacy requirements until 31 December 2015. Read more

We were recently asked to provide some input for a white paper which Nucleus have produced on recruitment within financial planning practices. We are all too aware of the difficulties of this, particularly with regards to finding paraplanners, and so were all too happy to provide some thoughts.

The paper can be found here – thanks to Nucleus for requesting our input and we hope you find the paper of some use if you are in the process of recruiting.

In June of this year, HMRC published a consultation paper announcing the introduction of two new types of protection for those affected by the drop in the Lifetime Allowance in April 2014 from £1.5m to £1.25. The two types of protection are Individual Protection 2014 and Fixed Protection 2014 with one of the key differences being that you can continue to make contributions with Individual Protection, whereas they must be stopped if electing for Fixed Protection. The two types are summarised in the table below:

Individual Protection 2014 Fixed Protection 2014
How does it work? Pension savers can apply for a personal lifetime allowance, up to £1.5m, based on the value of their pensions at 5th April 2014 Pension savers can apply to have a lifetime allowance of £1.5m, applicable for as long as this is higher than the standard lifetime allowance
Who can apply? Anyone with pension savings worth more than £1.25m at 5th April 2014 who does not hold enhanced or primary protection Those who already have pensions of more than £1.25m or think they may do when they take their pension. They must not have enhanced or primary protection
When can you apply? Likely from 6th April 2014 Now
When is the deadline? 5th April 2017 5th April 2014
Can the client continue to contribute? Yes No

HMRC have now released a form to apply for Fixed Protection, FP2014, which has been available since 12th August 2013 and can be found here. There will not be any certificates issued from HMRC before November 2013. They have also confirmed that Individual Protection plans are still in the pipeline and it may be worth holding off applying for Fixed Protection (which can be done any time before 5th April 2014) until the full plans for Individual Protection have been outlined. Individual Protection will not be available to be applied for before 6th April 2014.

As you know, we work in strategic partnership with A Business Innovation, the outsourced marketing company, who we share our London office with. I’ve  been in contact with Abbie and as a special value-add to our clients she has agreed to provide a discount of £100 on the tickets to her next 2 Day Value Proposition event! That means you pay just £398 for two full days with Abbie to craft your value proposition.

Abbie has helped a number of our advisers to develop their value proposition and re-launch their website. Typically this is done on a 1:2:1 basis, but through her event series she offers this service at a cost much lower than she usually charges (her day rate for 1:2:1 consultancy is £1,300+VAT). So if you’ve been struggling with your value proposition I strongly encourage you to consider attending this workshop.

Below is an overview of the content for the workshop and a link to the online booking form. To claim your discount use the code Para-Sols in the ‘Enter Discount Code’ section.

2 Day Value Proposition Workshop – 5th & 6th December, London 

This workshop is designed to address the issues you face in articulating your value proposition and transforming your business.

You will LEARN:

·      HOW to create your value proposition using a proven step-by-step process (including a workbook with examples)

·      HOW to package and present your value proposition to different audiences (clients, prospects, professional connections)

·      HOW to create a workable action plan for launching your value proposition

·      HOW to avoid the 9 common value proposition mistakes

·      HOW successful planners have used their value proposition to transform their business (using success stories and case studies)

·      HOW to use your value proposition to evolve your service offering and generate more revenue

·      HOW one planner trebled his minimum case size within 12 months

AND BENEFIT from round-table discussions and idea generation.

Find out more –

Remember, to receive the discount apply the code Para-Sols when booking.

If you’re not currently a Para-Sols client but are interested in the workshop, do contact either myself or Abbie and we’ll see what we can do to help you!

Not a full blog post but a link to a recent article in Money Marketing for those who didn’t see it…

We came across this really interesting article from Standard Life regarding clients who have enhanced tax free cash from A-Day and have not applied for fixed protection:

Clients with protected lump sums above 25% of their pension funds could boost their tax free cash by up to 5% of the A-Day fund by waiting until after 5 April to take benefits.

This is because, from 6 April, 25% of any growth in the fund since A-Day can be paid tax free (not just growth above 120% of the A-Day fund). This is on top of the protected A-Day lump sum increased by 20%.

But this will NOT apply to those who have elected for fixed protection.

George is about to retire with a £600k SIPP. He has a protected lump sum and won’t be registering for fixed protection. On 5 April 2006, George’s fund value was £480k and his protected lump sum was £200k.

If he takes his benefits BEFORE 6 April 2012, his tax free cash will be £246k.
But if he waits until AFTER 6 April 2012, he gets £24k more!

We think this is a really useful opportunity to be aware of. The full article and further detail can be found on the Adviserzone website by following this link

In a recent survey by Incisive, the advisers who responded to the question “Do you use paraplanners?” answered as follows:
58% – “No I do both advising and research myself”
36% – “Yes I have internal paraplanners”
4% – “Yes I use an external paraplanner”
2% – “No I rely on high tech solutions for this”
Although there is still a long way to go to in terms of the industry recognising the importance of paraplanners, it appears that their usage is steadily increasing.

Some of the comments from advisers who do already use paraplanners were also extremely encouraging:

“A vital resource”
“Good paraplanners are worth their weight in gold”

I couldn’t have put it better myself!