Today’s Paraplanner is?


Like salt and pepper, lock and key and Homer & Marge, some things in life are just meant to be together. RDR has expedited the already expanding nature of the Paraplanner’s role.

The RDR’s new regulations require increased adviser accountability, research and documentary evidence behind the advice process. The resulting benefit of time saved by working with an outsourced paraplanning firm is making paraplanners a ‘must have’ for the many smaller adviser firms who want to maximize their earning possibilities.

Owen James working on behalf of J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Invesco Perpetual has produced some excellent research on paraplanners that has enabled a better understanding of their businesses, age demographic and how they work.

Did you know for example that:

  • some 37% of those surveyed influence more than £100m of funds under management
  • some 50% have never met the client
  • that the top 3 most important influencers when selecting funds or outsourced solutions was performance, costs/charges and risk profile

Paraplanners also were keen to see a centralised place to access information on a weekly basis and this has been a key driver toward Panacea Adviser creating a place in the community for them to call home and importantly access timely, relevant, accurate and trusted information from over 70,000 pages on our site.

And importantly for our adviser members, they can now get a better idea of what paraplanners can do for them and to make contact very easily with many of the leading outsource firms via our new Paraplanning zone.


Download the report now for free and let us know your experiences too.



Valentines day, “Hug” a Paraplanner


2013 is now a reality and very recent research is showing us that after getting the exams, many advisers may be taking some time to review their business plan, their business goals and the business’s resource requirements.

This is not a process to rush, but it is a pressing one if the year ahead is to be a success.

Many smaller adviser firms may not fully appreciate that paraplanning, a huge time saving opportunity to embrace, is a vital, yet often confusing part of the business to resource – is it better to outsource or is it better to undertake the function in-house?

Given that there can be as many answers to this question as there are businesses we endeavour to provide you with some factors to consider for your business needs.

1. Do you currently have an in-house paraplanner?

  • Is this working as effectively as you would like?  If so, are you and your paraplanner on the same page when it comes to matching their aims and aspirations with yours?
  • Are they a career paraplanner or likely to want to transition to become an Adviser.
  • What could be improved?
  • Is your paraplanning process as efficient as you would like?  Is the quality up to scratch?  Do you have the time and resources to put into developing and training your paraplanner if this is required?
  • Do you have a solid, quality workflow process?

2. Do you want the additional responsibility of the requirement to manage, train and develop people or is your real passion in networking, business development and managing your ongoing relationship with clients?

3. Is managing your multi skill aspects of the business eating away at your time and energy to do the things you love and want to do?

4. Will freeing up the time you spend doing these tasks enable you to see more clients and generate more income?

5. Is business succession important and do you see the paraplanner being part of that succession plan and if so, does your paraplanner realise this?

6. Are you having trouble hiring a paraplanner?  Are you in a remote location?  Do you have the cash flow to support the level of expertise that you would like?

7. Would you like to partner with an expert in their field who has additional experience and insights that you may not ordinarily consider?

8. When it comes to the costs and cash flow in running the business is it important to you whether costs are fixed or variable?  Would you like costs to fluctuate in line with how the business is going?  Or would you like to know exactly what your costs would be regardless of your level of activity?  Do you have the capital to support – additional technology requirements, hardware, log-ins for software, office space and recruitment fees?

9. How important is it to you to control the paraplanning function?  Do you want to work on the strategy together or do you want to provide the recommendations and get assistance with the technical and compliance requirements in forming a Statement of Advice? Do you wish to have access to a “sounding board” for your strategy and recommendations?

10. How important is it to you that plans are completed within agreed turn-around times? What is your time lag between seeing a client and providing them with a Statement of Advice? Does your outsource provider give a guarantee or are your in-house paraplanners KPI’s aligned to this?

11. Are parts of your advice process heavily segmented with people in your office sure of your expectations of their work and a clear job role?  Or is your business more fluid – with people changing from administrator to paraplanner to client services depending on the needs of the business?

12. Do your staff have the expertise and training required for this?

With staffing costs accounting for over 50% of the total costs for boutique financial planning practices getting the correct mix of resources for your business is critical.

The mix of resources is likely to change over time depending on the requirements and nuances of your business.  So what is the answer for your business?  Pure in-house support?  Partnering with an out-source provider?  Or a combination of the two?

You may wish to start with a discussion with a Paraplanner, to assist in this process we have created a new zone with links to many of the leading outsource firms. Do make contact, it may change your life?

Visit our Paraplanner Zone



Once again we see reported those five words “The FSA declined to comment”.

They are normally uttered when awkward questions are asked that should elicit a degree of clarity and a willingness to be more open about their dealings, especially when livelihoods are at risk.

Sadly the comments that do seem to come from somewhere deep inside Canary Wharf relate to protecting those on the inside.

You may wish to do a search (we tried Money Marketing) for the words “FSA declined to comment” it produced 44 results.

Why is a regulator so reluctant to be open with those it regulates?

This latest “batten down the hatches” response comes as it would seem that some FSA board members were opposed to the Arch Cru redress scheme

Minutes from the regulator’s meeting, held on 13 December, showed concerns from board members such as;

  • concerns that if a full scheme was used, this would cause a number of IFAs to go out of business and add to consumer detriment on a wider scale due to the potential cost of changing advisors;
  • the full scheme would likely affect the cost and availability of Professional Indemnity Insurance for IFAs, even for those who did not sell Arch Cru products;
  • it was important to identify the egregious cases and pursue these further from the supervisory side;
  • concerns that firms would not engage in the process;

In particular, the Arch Cru consultation process confirmed that the “majority of respondents were against the proposals and thought that a scheme would be disproportionate, particularly in cases where consumers did not wish to seek redress from their advisers”.

Furthermore, it would appear that the Board had wanted to base the “style and format of the letters to consumers on the results of previous research in order to try to ensure a high number of consumer responses; and the Board also noted that the rules required firms to send all letters to consumers by recorded delivery mail. In cases where the contact details the firm held for a consumer were out of date, the firm must take all reasonable steps to obtain up-to-date contact details. The rules also contained a number of reporting requirements for firms, so that supervisors could monitor implementation of the scheme”.

The Board agreed to proceed with the modified “opt in” s.404 scheme.

Sadly, we do not know who expressed concerns, or indeed said anything that could be deemed as off message or contentious but it would seem that the Financial Services Practitioner Panel was very concerned about the “wider consequences” for adviser firms.

Indeed the FSPP did not think the proposals met the criteria for a section 404 scheme, because the FSA was taking its decision on whether the miss-selling was widespread.

Since 2001, section 404 of FSMA has reserved to the Treasury the ability to authorise the FSA to establish any industry-wide review of past business. The Act provides that HM Treasury would need to be satisfied that there had been widespread or regular failure and that private persons have suffered (or will suffer) loss. This takes the burden of proof way beyond incidental shortcomings within particular firms. Moreover, the Act requires the Treasury to proceed by way of specific Order, which must be approved by both Houses of Parliament.

The FSA is therefore not able, as previous regulators were, to order industry-wide reviews of past business on its own account.

The FSPP rightly wanted to ensure the distribution of liabilities was fair in supporting the need where appropriate, for consumer redress but did not think that Arch Cru had been the subject of widespread miss-selling.

Days after the meeting in December, the FSA gave advisers from April 2013 to December 2013 to set up and compensate investors, who choose to have their case reviewed, up to the tune of £141m for Arch Cru losses.

And, you guessed it, when queried by the trade press, the FSA declined to comment.


It is worth our industry and those who regulate to reflect upon a great quote from Steve Jobs. He said “You can’t just ask customers what they want and then try to give that to them. By the time you get it built, they’ll want something new.

And that is the problem of regulation.

Smell the coffee


It started in coffee houses….The second half of the seventeenth century was an era of burgeoning trade, in the absence of mass media, the coffee houses emerged as the primary source of news and rumour.

Edward Lloyd’s coffee house was opened near the Thames on Tower Street in London in 1685. The coffee house was “spacious, well built and inhabited by able tradesmen” according to a contemporary publication.  Later in 1691 it was transferred to 16 Lombard Street which was very close to the centre of English maritime trade.

It was from this coffee house that Edward Lloyd launched his “Lloyd’s List” in 1696 which was filled with information on ship arrivals and departures and included some intelligence on conditions abroad and at sea. This list was eventually enlarged to provide daily news on stock prices, foreign markets, and high-water times at London Bridge and reports of accidents and sinkings.

In 1771, seventy-nine of the underwriters who did business at Lloyd’s subscribed £100 each and joined together in the Society of Lloyd’s, an unincorporated group of individual entrepreneurs operating under a self-regulated code of behaviour. These were the original Members of Lloyd’s; later, members came to be known as “Names.” It was from this coffee house that Lloyd’s of London was established which eventually became the largest insurance company of the world.

Today’s version of those coffee houses can be found through online social media and the ability to talk to your peers through the likes of the Panacea Forums, Twitter and LinkedIn.

At Panacea we are always looking at different ways to communicate with you and help you with your business and over the next few weeks we will be bringing a series of articles around Social Media and the benefits it can bring to you.

In the meantime, if you are already on Twitter – please do follow us and help us break through the 2,000 mark! It would be great to see you there.

Should five per cent appear too small, be thankful I don’t take it all


Jimmy Carr is now not alone; Starbucks Google, Amazon and a raft of other global mega-businesses have recently been accused by the Public Accounts Committee of “immorally” minimising their UK tax bills.

Do note the word ‘minimising’, and the fact that tax is being paid somewhere, just not much here in ‘Blighty”!

David Cameron speaking at World Economic Forum in Switzerland told big tax avoiders to “wake up and smell the coffee”, no doubt nicely primed by Grant Shapps who had said “I don’t think we’ve ever singled out a single company but I think that companies in this country need to pay their way.”

A very concerned Starbucks boss, Kris Engskoz, met with officials at No10 on 25th January and it was later reported, although denied, that Starbucks would put on hold plans to invest £100million in the UK.

This upping of the anti in the politically driven “Tax morality Wars” is not a healthy one and once again politicians have plumbed new depths in the application of “selective morality” and dual standards in UK society.

These are the same politicians who decided to raid millions from pension funds, enforce a delay to the retirement plans of millions, hit motorists with excessive tax on tax, take the taxpayer for an illegal expenses ride, send our troops into danger then not look after them as they should when maimed or injured. I am sure there is a lot more that can be added too.

Of course, all businesses should pay the tax due, but it is also the responsibility of businesses to their shareholders to ensure profits are maximised and as long as the vast and complicated rules have been adhered to and taxes have been legally minimised and not illegally evaded, politicians should not be conducting such high profile witch-hunt’s or indeed any witch-hunts at all.

Politicians conveniently overlook the fact that UK plc has seen many very rich foreign nationals land on our shores as the UK tax regime is seen by them as being far more attractive than their own country’s. With this in mind, is their legitimately seeking out of a more tax friendly country to live in, all to the benefit of the UK, not a detrimental tax loss to the country they have left?

And what about those illegally in the UK, currently estimated to be as high as 863,000- larger than the population of Leeds? Many will not be contributing to the tax system, the government cannot even find most of them and they certainly have never published even an estimate of illegal immigration in the UK, saying that it is almost impossible to count unrecorded entries into the country.

Cameron overlooks in his “aroma” search the fact that the very businesses they hold up for moral derision employ thousands in the UK, all of those pay tax and NI.

If UK plc wants more to collect more tax revenues they should simplify the system.

They should also stop wasting so much of taxpayers money on welfare, bureaucracy, wars and mission creep toward more wars, aborted rail franchise bids and excessive, expensive, poorly thought out regulation that hampers so many of the businesses who create the wealth and profits that results in revenue to UK plc.

Only this week we learn that Britain’s top taxman –accused by MPs of lying – has been hired by HSBC to advise it on honesty. The bank appointed Dave Hartnett, the former head of HMRC, as an adviser to ‘enforce the highest standards’ at the firm.

The decision to recruit the 61-year-old, described as Britain’s most ‘wined and dined’ civil servant who also sparked controversy over a total of 107 meals he enjoyed with corporate giants over a three-year period, was so sensitive that the Prime Minister had to rubber-stamp the former civil servant’s new job.

No morality issues there then David?

Clearly the the late George Harrison’s Beatles’ song Taxman provided the tax mantra checklist and it is as relevant today as it was then:

“If you drive a car, I’ll tax the street,

If you try to sit, I’ll tax your seat.

If you get too cold I’ll tax the heat,

Now my advice for those who die

Declare the pennies on your eyes”