Who doesn’t love a nice surprise?

    Professionally speaking, for me the nice surprises are when we get to experience true collaboration between financial planners and paraplanners.

    There are some key elements needed to make this happen, but when it does, I believe this is where the whole advice process is at its most efficient.

    I’ve worked in many different firms, and with many different types of planners.

    Yet I’ve found it’s when a financial planner involves their paraplanner at an early point in a case and truly collaborates that the advice process runs in the easiest and smoothest way.

    This is about two experienced and qualified financial planners working together at the same level to understand the best outcome for the client.

    Openness and respect are key at this stage and often driven, where support is in-house, by the attitude within the firm.

    What this looks like in practice is discussing cases in depth and discussing all potential solutions for the client to agree the best way forward.

    Through these discussions I’ve seen so many times a new potential option being suggested that, while having not been immediately obvious, ends up being the most suitable solution.

    It can be difficult to see the best solution when the same individual that has spoken to and understands the client is then solely deciding on the end recommendation.

    By collaborating, this can also help with understanding any gaps in the advice.

    It’s worth taking some time to understand the different roles that financial planners and paraplanners have to play here.

    Generally, different personal skills are involved in these different roles. But when you combine them to provide a different perspective on each case, the outcomes for clients are that much more complete.

    For paraplanners, this means successfully being able to present the reasons why a financial planner should take on board your point of view.

    It also means being able to handle criticism where it arises, which is something that takes time to learn, as well as building the confidence and technical knowledge in order to have these discussions well.

    For firms, it’s worth making sure you have the right people in the right places to allow collaboration to occur. There must also be a mutual respect for paraplanning, which unfortunately isn’t always the case.

    This needs to be a key part of the firm’s ethos in order for the paraplanning relationship to work most effectively. The way I like to think is that paraplanners are financial planners but in a role that’s more suited to their skill set.

    Ultimately, true collaboration between paraplanning and financial planning benefits everyone involved – and that includes the client, as both parties are working to a common goal.

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