What were the topics and top tips from Powwow Down South 2017?

On Tuesday 25 April 2017 the FOURTH Powwow Down South took place, hosted by Dan Atkinson and Nathan Fryer and accommodated by 7IM at their London office with approximately 20 paraplanners participating. The format was slightly different this time, split into structured CPD and an open question and discussion session.

We started off with Matthew Yeates from 7IM talking about the various risks clients face and paraplanners must take into account when building financial plans and investment strategies. The slides can be downloaded here and the main points taken from the session were:

  • How important it is to take into account all the risks and not just those associated with an investment
  • The effect of changing one part of a plan (particularly the timing) has on the likelihood of success (e.g. Saving more early on increases the chance of success far more than getting a better investment return)
  • Younger clients have more of an appetite for risk and less of an appetite for saving when compared to older clients but it should actually be the other way around
  • Life expectancy has a huge impact and getting it ‘right’ is very tricky. (This is an interesting post about that subject)

Jamie Evans from 7IM then put this into practice using cash flows. You can get their cash flow tool here; it’s a great example of how to build a tool clients will interact with.

The second part of the Powwow addressed the ‘one big question’ that each participant had submitted for the group to answer and share their views on. It’s fair to say we had a wide range of questions and deployed the extra large Post-its for people to vote on.

Most paraplanners like a good calculator and planning tool and we started off by sharing our favourites for annual allowance calculations. Among the most popular suggestions were:

A popular option was also to build your own spreadsheet as a great way to test your own skills and knowledge.

The next big question was about choosing cash flow tools. Most of the tools available in the UK were used by the participants and the issue was not one of ‘mine is better than yours’ but more practical issues including:

  • How paraplanners play a central role in choosing the right tool for a firm
  • What happens if the tool has over promised and underdelivered and simply doesn’t work in the way you expected
  • The challenge of having to put in lots of data to get a good output and how some tools have helped address this with a lighter touch
  • Why is your firm doing it and what do you want to show the client?
  • How some tools don’t allow for significant ‘mid-year’ client events
  • How to deal with some advisers that are a ‘block’ in using cash flow with clients

It wouldn’t be a financial services discussion if defined benefit transfers weren’t on the menu and so it turned out with the Powwow. This is a massive topic and we scratched the surface but some of the top answers and tips were:

  • Dan had Utmost Wealth in to do a training session and talked highly of it
  • Barnett Waddingham has an excellent technical page on revaluation and one just for GMP too
  • IFA Al Rush is hosting a special event on 19 June on DB transfers and has a great line up of speakers. Tickets are in short supply and you can book here (there may be a wait list). Several Powwowers are going
  • The PPF does not apply to some members who worked for Quangos that no longer exists
  • Delays on implementing transfers

The final main question was about participating in client meetings. This was overwhelming accepted as a good idea, although not so easy for the outsourcers amongst us, but only a small minority said they actually did it. Time is always going to be a big issue here, but the paraplanners who regularly got to do this gave some good examples of the benefits:

  • Client facial expressions and reactions can tell you far more than meeting notes
  • One paraplanner gave the example of a seeing that a client didn’t fully understand what some technical issues meant and that changed how she followed up after the meeting to make sure they did
  • Audio recordings of meetings were used in some firms and these were seen as the best alternative if you can’t be there
  • We discussed how hard it can be to document these subtle reactions and signs

Overall it was another really good Powwow Down South and the mix of carefully selected structured content and sharing of ideas and answers went well. Thanks to everyone who participated.


Read the Professional Paraplanner account of Powwow Down South.