Budget 2013

Some very brief budget bullet points …

· Income Tax threshold to rise to £10,000 in 2014, a year early – an increase to the threshold of £560.

· Corporation tax will be cut by 1% to 20% in April 2015.

· The government will give CGT relief on sales of businesses to their employees

· A new ‘Employment Allowance’ – Every company in the UK is able to get up to £2,000 cut from their NICs next April in an attempt to boost job creation.

· First time buyers wishing to buy a home worth less than £600,000 is to be given assistance; as long as they have a 5% deposit, the government will contribute an extra 20% – repayable when the house is sold.

· The care home fee cap will be brought forward to 2016 at £72,000.


· Stamp duty on AIM shares to be abolished from next April.

· Government will consult on options for transferring savings held in CTFs into Junior ISAs.

· The government has pledged to make £5,000 ex-gratia payments to Equitable Life customers who were too old to be eligible for compensation.


· The start of the single tier state pension has been bought forward a year to 2016/17 tax year (bringing forward the loss of contracting out rebate for defined benefit members).

· As per the autumn Statement 2012, the lifetime allowance will reduce from £1.5m to £1.25m from 2014/15.

· The government will consult on the details of a fixed protection regime in Spring 2013 to be included in the Finance Bill 2014.

· As per the Autumn Statement 2012, the annual allowance will reduce from £50,000 to £40,000 from 2014/15.

· The government will increase the capped drawdown from 100% to 120% of GAD from 26 March 2013.

Panacea helps bring Paraplanners and Advisers together in perfect harmony

Like salt and pepper, lock and key and Homer & Marge, some things in life are just meant to be together. It is for this reason that Absolute Paraplanning are delighted to be teaming up with Panacea Adviser, the online resource for directly regulated financial advisers and Paraplanners.

RDR has expedited the already expanding nature of the Paraplanner’s role.  The RDR’s new regulations require increased accountability and documentation behind the advice process, making Paraplanners more indispensible to advisers than ever before.

In recognition of this, Panacea have created a place where Paraplanners can join with the adviser community and turn for the latest resources, tools, research, educational support, ideas, views and technical intelligence from product providers and support services all in one place.

And, for paraplanning firms they can promote their services too.

This FREE service is easy to use and has established a thriving web based community, and communicate twice a week with their free “Bento” email bulletin to some 15,000 individuals who are kept updated with the latest news, commentary and industry trends.

We encourage you to register for the Bento bulletin in order to gain access to:

  • Help, support and advice from your peers
  • Improved connections with product providers
  • A number of special offers and discounts negotiated by Panacea especially for you
  • New ideas to assist with your business
  • New client opportunities from our adviser community

Register today and don’t forget to take a look around the site – www.panaceaadviser.com

ECJ Ruling and Annuity Rates

As a result of the European Court of Justice ruling, the ban of the use of gender as a rating factor will come into effect on 21st December 2012

Experts believe that men will be offered annuity rates around 2-4% lower than at present, effectively slicing pension funds by a considerable margin.

Therefore, if you have any male clients who are approaching retirement, it could possibly be in their best interests to act sooner rather than later

Many annuity providers have now issued their deadlines for submitting ‘gender specific’ applications – and notably Prudential have just announced an earlier deadline of 12th November 2012 for obtaining illustrations, with applications and monies received before the illustration expires.

As we are all too aware, the pension transfer process can take between 3-6 weeks so time is now tight!

What with the approach of RDR and other business obligations, it is a busy time for most of you IFA’s. Thankfully for you, Absolute Paraplanning are more than happy to offer assistance for any of your clients that may be affected by the ECJ ruling.

All you have to do is ask!

Video Interview with Heidi Witham

Heidi Witham, senior partner at Absolute Paraplanning, explains why advisers should outsource their paraplanning needs and how she has seen business grow.

According to Heidi, paraplanners have never had so many opportunities.

Paraplanners urged to grow via other professional links, November 18, 2010

(click here for original article)

Freelance paraplanners should be looking to forge relationships with lawyers and accountants as a way to expand their business, according to Heidi Witham.

Heidi Witham, who founded Absolute Paraplanning in 2008, said lawyers often needed help choosing where to deposit client funds. 

‘What I have been looking at in the first instance is helping lawyers when they have to decide what bank to deposit client money in. If anything happens to that bank the lawyer needs to be able to show there has been due diligence and a report written on that decision,’ she said.

Heidi Witham said there was a crucial distinction between advisers and paraplanners that can protect paraplanners sitting between accountants, lawyers and other institutions.

‘The key thing is that any work done is under the lawyer or accountant’s liability so it is clear you are doing something they have asked you to do.’

In the Spotlight – Heidi Witham, January 25, 2009

www.theparaplanner.com (click here for original article)

We continue our series of interviews with a paraplanner to gain an insight into his or her career, working day and top tips for the rest of us. This week features Heidi Witham who runs her own freelance paraplanning business.

Name – Heidi Witham
Current Role – Senior Partner
Employer/Company – Absolute Paraplanning
Qualifications – Certificate FP- awaiting results J4- pension funding
How long have you worked in Financial Services? – since 2001 – 7 years
Have you always been a paraplanner? – No, I began as sales support for Royal London Insurance Society, then a sales consultant for the same company, then worked in sales support for Lifesearch who are protection specialists and a subsidiary of Baigrie Davies, then financial administrator at Carrwood Macintyre who were integrated within Macintyre Hudson- a national accountancy practice. Then in 2005 I became a paraplanner for Michael McCroddan at his firm, The McCroddan Partnership. Following Michael’s sale of his business, I decided to make the jump into freelance paraplanning and established Absolute Paraplanning in August 2008.
How would you describe a typical day as a paraplanner for you? – As I work from home there is no commuting, so I step into the spare room. My usual business is pension transfers- reports and fund research to back up the advice given. I also do ad-hoc work such as file organisation for a local adviser and contacting insurance providers for information and chasing transfer monies. Once a week I harass my collection of insurance company and fund management broker consultants; getting myself invited to any seminars or events, as this is my ideal chance to meet IFA’s and promote my company, as well as keeping up with industry gossip. Once a week I send a “cold” letter to 10 IFA’s, whose details I source from leads from the broker consultants/recruitment agencies or by postcode on the FSA register. I also set aside time on a weekly basis for my business paperwork; filing invoices and receipts and keeping my business spreadsheets up to date.
How do you fit into the overall paraplanning support within your company? – My role predominantly is paraplanning and support as mentioned above. I also have other paraplanners available to me for overflow work, as well as access to a fully qualified pension transfer specialist, mortgage adviser, accountant and IT specialist, who all work under my umbrella.
What aspect of paraplanning do you enjoy most? – I enjoy getting stuck into a report and seeing the report finally coming together. I am paranoid so I tend to check my reports the day after completion before sending to the IFA; otherwise I wake up in the night in a cold sweat thinking I have missed a major point! I enjoy getting the feedback from the advisers when they finally read the reports. It’s also a good feeling when my clients contact me saying they have another few reports for me. It is good to know I have a positive impact on other people’s businesses.
In what ways can you add value as a paraplanner? – Being proactive and ahead of the game, anticipating the adviser’s needs rather than waiting for the needs to be told. The IFA can then be confident his/her world won’t come crashing down if him/her is not around. The fundamental reason of our existence is to allow the adviser more and more time sitting in front of a client.
What tips would you offer any other paraplanners? – Pay attention to detail, it’s the most important aspect of our role. Double check everything you do, no matter how small the task. Never leave valuable paperwork on the advisers desk- it will invariably get lost! Always maintain good relationships with visiting broker consultants and any other industry professionals you come into contact with, as they can provide valuable advice both now and in the future.
What websites do you regularly use? – Citywire, Trustnet, The paraplanner, IFA Life
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? – Michael McCroddan was full of tips, the best one being to be confident in yourself. He firmly believes in self promotion. It’s all about the image you portray to your clients. It’s ok to say “I’m not sure”, so long as you follow with “but I’ll find out” rather than guessing.
Personal Mantra – "Only a fool thinks he is a wise man; a wise man knows when he has been a fool"
What exam are you taking next? – J5- Retirement Options/Pension Income
What one thing could make your job easier? – Having access to provider websites, which I cannot do as I have no FSA number.


Rich on February 2nd, 2009 0:44
Great article and concept!! I enjoyed the read Heidi.

Heeral Patel on February 2nd, 2009 14:36
Sitting at home watching the snow…and finally managed to find time to read Heidi’s article…very informative…thank you…Heidi you are an inspiration to me! Well done!

And now – the rise of the freelance paraplanner

By Richard Lander | 09:18:21 | 14 August 2008

I had the good fortune last night to bump into Heidi Witham who has just left the McCroddan Partnership after its acquisition by Conforto Financial Management. Heidi is now setting up a new business, Absolute Paraplanning, ‘after discovering a gap in the market for freelance paraplanning.’ As the Absolute Paraplanning website puts it: Financial advisers can find recruiting the right paraplanner difficult, expensive and time consuming. Outsourcing can be the preferred solution to many developing businesses that then have the advantage of
paying for what they require rather than bearing the ongoing costs of a full time employee. Which all sounds logical to me. If you’re interested, drop Heidi a line at heidiwitham@absoluteparaplanning.co.uk


Tom Read 09:52 | 14 Aug 2008
Heidi would be an excellent choice if you need a report written. She is very professional and has a good depth of knowledge. Highly recommended.

Martin Vaughan – theparaplanner.com 11:33 | 14 Aug 2008
I just wanted to wish Heidi good luck with her new venture. Sometimes setting up on your own can be pretty daunting! We also look forward to meeting her on theparaplanner.com – the website designed to help and provide support and information for all paraplanners whether they are freelance or employed. We will also look forward to receiving her entry into the Paraplanner of the Year awards. Launched in association with Institute of Financial Planning they were created to recognise the skills and professionalism of paraplanners. Good luck Heidi, we look forward to meeting you soon.

Stephen Peters – Not a big gap in the market 15:06 | 14 Aug 2008
Given there was an article in money management about the freelance paraplanning industry about 18m ago, it can’t be that big a gap. East Herts is obviously a hotbed of paraplanning skill given How Why When is also based there. I’ve heard they are very good.

Tony Devitt -Business Development Manager, Winterthur – mind the gap! 17:13 | 14 Aug 2008
Stephen, Heaven forbid we should encourage anyone who wants to make our industry more cost effective, efficient and professional. According to our database at Winterthur there are over 1000 registered IFA firms in the geographic location, excluding central London, so even if there are more freelance paraplanners than the one you mention, I would suggest there was a sizable gap in the market.

Richard Allum – Mind the gap 21:58 | 14 Aug 2008
Glad to welcome Heidi to the freelance side of paraplanning. Not sure how long she has been looking before finding the gap though, we started Adviser Assist in 2002 after seeing a gap then since when there have been plenty of individuals and firms starting up and offering a range of paraplanning services. We are still seeing a huge demand so the gap is still pretty big with room for us all.

Adviser insight: Outsource paraplanning to the experts

www.citywire.co.uk (click here for original article)
By Martin Vaughan | 00:01:00 | 03 November 2008

The modern IFA business can ensure it has good quality paraplanners by outsourcing the work to specialist firms, writes Martin Vaughan of Paragon Paraplanning.
As the role of the paraplanner becomes more understood, and as IFA businesses develop, one of the challenges facing the modern IFA business is to ensure they are profitable while at the same time remain professional and produce high quality work. An integral part of this high quality work will be the production of reports for clients. In many practices this type of work will be the domain of the paraplanner (though this is not all they will do) and clearly the more complicated and comprehensive the report the more qualified and experienced the paraplanner required to complete it. This can cause concern for IFAs because it is not always economically viable to employ a paraplanner of this standard full-time.

Outsourcing solutions
A solution that more and more IFAs are opting to do is to outsource some or all of their paraplanning requirements. This is where the report writing function, and indeed some of the other paraplanning functions, may be outsourced to a company that specialises in this type of work. Outsourced paraplanning is not new; Richard Allum set up the first outsourced paraplanning company in the UK, Adviser Assist, in 2002. Paraplanning Direct has been providing paraplanning services for a number of years and so has Hately Services. More recent entrants to the market have been Perceptive Paraplanning, Outsourced Paraplanning and Absolute Paraplanning. Indeed, there are a number of other companies that also provide outsourced paraplanning services and a directory of outsourced paraplanners will soon be available on www.theparaplanner.com.

Some benefits of outsourcing are:
The ability to spend more time with your clients knowing that your reports are being written for you. Knowing that your reports will be to a very high standard. Knowing that you will receive your reports to a deadline. All of the above are vitally important when considering the TCF requirements. There are also further benefits of outsourcing: The ability to pay for what you need. One of the benefits of outsourcing is that you can use the paraplanner as much or as little as required. The ability to discuss a client case with an experienced and knowledgeable individual. Having one or more highly experienced people to discuss ideas and to help create a strategy for a client is a major benefit for a small business.

Things to consider when outsourcing:
How are you going to pay for the work? Is this going to be on an hourly basis or on a case-by-case basis? How much work are you going to give the outsourced company? Some companies require a retainer; others just work on an ad hoc basis. What type of work are you going to outsource? This is important because you need to ensure that the outsourced company is able to deal with the work given to them. If it is highly complex and technical requiring a high degree of technical ability then you will need to make sure that the people doing the work have the appropriate skills. If you are a financial planner and you wish to outsource some of your report writing you would need to ensure that the outsourced company understands the difference between a full financial plan and a suitability report. Better still, check whether they are CFP qualified. Do not underestimate the length of time it takes to write a comprehensive report.

Martin Vaughan CFP is a director of theparaplanner.com and Paragon Paraplanning.