In the early days of financial planning when an advisor’s primary function was to provide access to capital markets, fees that clients paid were baked into the cost of the product they were buying. With the advent of planning as a service, however, fee transparency became an important feature for clients. Accordingly, charging an explicit fee for financial planning is a relatively new phenomenon, and as a result many financial planners struggle not only with when and how to communicate the fee itself and the value they provide, but with the fear that they will scare away prospective clients in the process.
In our 43rd episode of Kitces and Carl, Michael Kitces and client communication expert Carl Richards discuss the merits of two opposing philosophies around when to discuss fees with prospective clients and strategies to help clients understand the value of the services an advisor provides.
One approach, for some advisors, is to first create context around the services they provide before discussing fees, leaving it until the end of the second meeting after gaining (and demonstrating) a clear understanding of a prospective client’s situation and presenting a rough plan about how they will align the use of the client’s capital with what they state is important to them. By doing so, the advisor can give the prospective client the experience of what it will be like working together.
Another approach, meanwhile, is to state their fees directly on their website, so prospective clients can either filter themselves out of the process even before it