The industry discussion of advisor fees realistically does not take issue with fees themselves. The issue is with the communication of the value associated with the fees. Most advisors provide value beyond the assets under management fee structure. But in many cases, the fees are presented only in relationship to assets under management.
When fees are presented only as AUM-related then the only value really is the investment process that drives the investments. There are many problems with presenting your fees this way as the industry changes and new low cost options continue to infiltrate the investment business.
The key is to present your value with the precision and confidence that you deliver your value.
If you’ve ever been asked a question like these below, it may be time to rethink the fee discussion:
- ‘What am I paying these fees for?’
- ‘How do you compare your services to [XYZ Robo-advisor]?’
Several firms have begun changing the way they present how they get paid.
We call it a core story. It is not the elevator statement or value proposition but an in-depth description of what you get paid for. It is your Value Conversation.
If delivered in a segmented way, your fee/value conversation can be done clearly, concisely, with precision, and can be understood and remembered by the client. Think of presenting your value by segmenting it into 3 distinct categories that each have an associated fee. For instance you could say – “there are 3 things we do” and then break up all of the things you do into 3 distinct categories. For instance, one advisor we work with states, “There are 3 things that we do: Complete Financial Planning, our Investment Process, and Family Office Services.” He discusses each in detail and then associates a sample fee based on the value for each of the categories. In closing the conversation, he presents one overall, average fee that is less than the 3 individual segments. His clients understand it and he does not have a fee issue. His clients know his value.
You may not be ready or able to change the model in which you charge fees. But you can change the way you communicate all the value you bring. Think about changing the way you discuss what you do so that every client knows you are worth at least what they are paying you (if not more).
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