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The Paraplanner-Adviser Relationship

What is the relationship between a Paraplanner and Financial Adviser?

The default mode for describing the relationship between a paraplanner and financial adviser is to list their respective unique tasks. However, this laundry list of “things they do” often fails to grasp the very essence of the question we are asking. What is their relationship?

Most answers simply highlight the different tasks each role performs. What we really want to know is how these two roles connect and interrelate.

Relationships of a professional nature need a shared purpose and the one between a paraplanner and financial adviser is no different. In this case, it is the common goal of putting the client in a better position. This is the focal point of their relationship.

Any tasks or steps that are unique to each role are bound by this mission; without it, the relationship need not exist.

So very often, both the Paraplanner and the Financial Adviser forget their shared purpose and narrow their focus on specific tasks, like the production of an advice document. The meaning behind the work is lost if the focus is saving time and money through procedural efficiencies. The shared goal is lost if all the relationship boils down to is financial planning software  and word processing. The relationship that focuses on that is one that is entirely transactional in nature and lacks depth.

So what informs the best relationship between paraplanner and financial adviser?

We think it all comes down to three things: communication, collaboration and support.


If both sides of this relationship start with and acknowledge the shared purpose, pressure is lifted off the advice documentation creation. A larger scope emerges and it becomes just one piece, rather than the only piece, of the puzzle.

This context changes the energy of this part of the advice process. It paves the way to putting the client in a better position. It transforms the transactional into the dynamic.

Better communication results in an improved working relationship. Both parties will have a better understanding of each other’s needs and will be able to provide valuable feedback for improvement.


At any point in time, a Paraplanner and Financial Adviser will have different strengths and weaknesses. When building the relationship, it is best to not approach it with a static set of tasks that you bring to the table. Instead, pay careful attention to the strengths and weaknesses of your partner and know when to bend or build bridges to complement.

If both partners are only aware of their own abilities, they will miss the holes that need filling. We already know what we bring to the table, so spend some time working out your counterpart’s strengths and weaknesses. 

Declarations of “I don’t do that” or “I never learned that” should be shelved until both the Paraplanner and the Financial Adviser assess the partnership’s strengths and weaknesses. This is an important team-work exercise that promotes collaboration and a healthy relationship. And a healthy relationship will help achieve the shared goal of putting the client in a better position.

From both sides, there will need to be some learning and bending. Together, you will meet in the middle in full collaboration.


At times, support will be the one thing that keeps the relationship together. It will be the glue when things go wrong. And as we know, things always go wrong, but it’s how we deal with it.

How we deal with it is through a building of trust and approaching situations with empathy.

Building trust can be achieved by consistent and genuine effort. By following through with what you said you would do. By communicating openly and honestly.

Empathy allows us to connect with others emotionally and respond appropriately to their needs. It’s the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It involves putting oneself in another person’s shoes and trying to experience the world from their perspective.

Both of these skills take time and cannot be rushed. A lot of business relationships don’t make it to this level. However, when you do, a safety net is built underneath the relationship. When things inevitably go wrong, it’s ok because the support is there.

If you don’t have communication, collaboration and support, you don’t have a relationship. What you have is a transactional business arrangement, which can work, but is limited in depth and scope.

If your relationship with your Paraplanner or Financial Adviser is not where you would like it to be, it’s time to open up the communication lines, invite collaboration and provide support.

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