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New compliance service from Para-Sols founder Cathi Harrison

This autumn, Cathi Harrison, founder of outsourced paraplanning firm Para-Sols, is bringing a new compliance service to the adviser market

Harrison says the company is on the verge of launching Apricity, a technology-enabled compliance service that is looking to shake up the current market.

Drawing on her eight years of running the firm she says she has had plenty of first-hand experience of the “challenges around compliance” and the level of support advisers are or are not receiving when trying to meet their regulatory obligations. “I’ve yet to hear an adviser sing the praises of their compliance firm,” she says. “It’s almost always negative.”

There could and should be a better way of doing things, she says. “I felt there was a need for change and for someone to offer something else, to bring an entirely different view to compliance. After all compliance, advisers and paraplanners should all be on the same page, we are all trying to get to the same end output for the client.”

In particular, she says, “we think technology could be better embraced within compliance; everything is very manual and clunky and a bit slow at the moment. It doesn’t need to be that way.”

In 2016 Harrison began researching the potential of the business, bringing in experts like independent consultant and ex-FCA technician Rory Percival to help. A key piece of research was to talk with existing compliance officers. “We know the frustrations of advisers and paraplanners and we wanted to get a compliance take on it as well, Harrison says.

From this work, Apricity was devised. The original idea, Harrison says, was to launch it as another service from Para-Sols. “However, the more we researched the service and what it should offer, and the more we talked to people in the market we realised that it needed to be bigger than that; so we have launched it as a separate company. It’s a sister brand to Para-Sols in that we are behind it and bringing our knowledge and expertise to it, but the only common denominator is me.”

Fresh approach eschewing the ‘tick box mentality’

“Apricity means the warmth of the sun on a winter’s day. We see current compliance as the winter’s day and we are going to bring that warmth and a ray of light to a part of the industry that is not particularly well received at present.

“The FCA wants to see a more risk-controlled approach to compliance, putting things in place that will help stop the firms from making mistakes in the first place, rather than checking files six months down the line and fining people in retrospect.

“We want to help firms to be able to take that approach, to ensure they are compliant and meet all their regulatory needs, but to get away from a dry tick box mentality.

We want adviser firms to see compliance as a positive input to their business not as a negative experience. We want them to feel able to call us up to talk things through in a positive way and to almost look forward to their monthly check-in with their compliance provider, rather than dreading it.

“We very excited about it and think Apricity will bring a breath of fresh air into the compliance market.”

Harrison is keeping full details of the service close to her chest but for further information on the launch of Apricity and to sign up to the email list go to: http://www.apricitycompliance.co.uk/

Harrison has also instigated a brand fresh of Para-Sols, recently launching a new website outlining the full service it offers adviser firms.

The reason for the brand refresh, Harrison said, is that recent changes to the firm, bringing in dedicated management to oversee areas such as client relationship management and marketing and engagement, have brought it to a new stage in its development. “It’s not my baby anymore, it’s more professional and developed and we wanted to refresh the brand to reflect that.” This includes a new logo, website and marketing materials, “all of which reflect where we are now,” Harrison says.

Visit the new Para-Sols website 

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