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Paraplanner Team of the Year profile: Para-Sols

2 July 2020

Editor Rob Kingsbury spoke to Jo Campbell, director of outsourced paraplanning firm Para-Sols, about the firm’s win at the Professional Paraplanner Awards 2020.

“Our company goal for this year is innovation. Every year we set ourselves a business plan and an area of focus. In 2019 it was customer service and making that the best we can; for 2020, with a strong team in place and robust and efficient systems, we wanted to ensure we stayed ahead of the curve, driving us and the industry forward,” says Jo Campbell, director of outsourced paraplanning firm Para-Sols.

Para-Sols has a team of 31, serving 150 advice firms, from one-man bands to networks and works on the principle of constant development and looking to do things better, Jo says. “Our view is that as a business and an industry we should regularly challenge how we do things and not just keep on doing them in a certain way because that’s the way they have always been done. So, we start from a clean sheet of paper, we look at how we’ve been doing a task, and ask the questions: Is it the best way? How could we be doing it better? We want to be the company that is seen to always be thinking ahead and doing things first.

“As part of the Verve Group, we are also about what else we can do to help build the profession and the industry – how we can bring more people in, how we become more diverse, how we can shine a light on financial services as a great industry to work in.

“But you can’t start a project without having confidence in the quality of your core work, the paraplanning, knowing that the team and the systems are working efficiently and producing work of a really high quality. The past 10 years have been about ensuring we have developed the best service we can and building on that; which means we can now focus on innovation.”

The Coronavirus induced lockdown, rather than stifling that innovation, gave it a boost, she says. “As soon as lockdown occurred we rang our adviser clients to see how they would be reacting to it. It was clear workflow would be affected but we decided to use the time as an opportunity to drive through the projects we had always wanted to do but never had the time for.

“We looked at what advice firms might need during lockdown to help serve their clients and how the industry might look once things returned to normal. Then we looked at how we could innovate and develop our service to better serve the industry and help push it forward.”

The result was the launch of a range of new services. These included a dedicated support team, or hub, of executive assistant, technical paraplanner, associate paraplanner, two paraplanners and a financial administrator, serving the adviser; a secure client portal; interactive suitability reports delivered digitally; and a virtual paraplanning service, enabling advisers to meet with their clients online, with Para-Sols’ virtual support service alongside them in the meeting.

“We took the opportunity that lockdown gave us and in under three months we developed and delivered on our theme of innovation with a service we think better meets the needs of advisers and their clients in 2020 and beyond.”

Jo acknowledges that having innovative ideas is the easy part of the process; making those ideas reality is where the hard work lies. “The way the paraplanning team has come together to build the service, has been fantastic. We are quite a young team, with a lot of skills over and above paraplanning and that came through in the work done during lockdown. I am so proud of everyone in the team for what they have achieved.

“Winning the Professional Paraplanner award is the icing on the cake – to have the external recognition of all the hard work that has been done not just this year but in the 10 years before that. We are over the moon about it.”

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