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5 minutes with… Andy Schleider, director, Haven Paraplanning

28 November 2019

For this 5 minutes with… Rob Kingsbury talked to Andy Schleider, director and paraplanner at Tunbridge Wells-located Haven Paraplanning Ltd

How did you get into paraplanning?

I started my career as a financial adviser but from the start it was paraplanning and the more technical side of the role where my best skills lay. After 8 years I decided to take a different tack with my career and joined JUST (Retirement), where amongst other roles I prepared and issued drawdown illustrations. I was there for 5 years before moving into specific pensions roles, including specialising in DB pension transfers, and then back into paraplanning for a small advice firm. It’s been a varied career, working for both small and large companies within financial advice but it has given me a good grounding across a wide range of areas and the specialism in DB pensions transfers paraplanning.

What made you decide to set up your own paraplanning business?

I’d been reading about the demand/supply imbalance for paraplanning services and I’d been thinking about it for a while. I talked with people I respected in the outsourced market, such as Nathan Fryer and Richard Allum, about setting up my own business and I was able to take on some freelance work for another outsourced paraplanner which gave me some insight. What made me think seriously about taking the plunge was a video where a business owner drives up to his office in a Lamborghini and says to his staff: “We’re doing really well. If you keep on working like you are, I‘ll be able to buy another one of these next year.” After watching that video I thought, why shouldn’t I do it myself and take responsibility for my own destiny?

What were the main challenges when setting up your business?

Perhaps the biggest shock was the amount of time you need to spend just running the business. I hadn’t appreciated the extra hours which would be needed on top of doing the paraplanning. You’re paraplanning during the day and doing the business elements at night. My website also took a lot longer to go live than I expected.

What were the first things you did in order to set up?

I knew from the outset that I wanted to grow the business over time so I set up as a limited company and Vat registered. I didn’t want to begin trading and then get to the point where I had to start charging Vat and so bump up my prices by 20% for people I was already working with.

How are you marketing yourself and how difficult has it been to get clients?

When starting off, I had a wide network of people I knew and also used LinkedIn as my main marketing channel. Incredibly, I was up to capacity within six weeks of going live – even before my website was live. I’d heard from other outsourced paraplanners that it can take a bit of time to get up and running and I think I was lucky in that I was in the right place at the right time for most of my clients and I was able to work my network to get leads. Now I am working with advisers across the south east and beyond.

What services do you provide and how do you charge?

My advertised services are pensions transfers, investments, estate planning and cashflow modelling. I work primarily on a retainer basis because that gives me a steady and predictable stream of revenue, which you need as a small business owner.

When a client comes on board we’ll discuss what work they want done on a regular basis, and so their likely business spend and we’ll set a percentage of that as the retainer.

But I also take on ad hoc work. I think that is the way that some people get to know you and whether they want to work with you.

In setting the fees, I looked at what others were charging, through either talking to people or seeing what was published on websites, then I set my hourly rate to reflect the income I need and worked out what a piece of work would cost based on that rate. It’s about setting reasonable prices that work for you and the client.

What systems and software are you using?

Within the business I’m using Trello for workflow management, Harvest to record my time, Xero for my accounts and HubSpot for lead generation.

Although just four months in, is there anything you’d have done differently so far?

I would have employed a bookkeeper rather than an accountant, which is overkill and expensive for this stage of the business.

Do you have a 3-5 year plan for the business?

I want to grow Haven Paraplanning and that will mean taking on other paraplanners in due course, maybe freelance at first and then on an employed basis. It’s early days so it’s important that I first establish the business and then set aside some time to look at how I start to take on more clients and build the business.

You can find out more about Andy and Haven Paraplanning here.

A shorter version of this article appeared in the December 2019 issue of Professional Paraplanner.

Professional Paraplanner