Fees are often a main topic of conversation when advisors sit down to meet with their clients. But do advisors paint an accurate picture of the total cost of servicing a client’s account?
According to a new survey conducted by Peak Advisor Alliance and Cerulli Associates, many advisors do not. Nearly 63 percent of advisors surveyed believe their total fees charged on any given account are less than 1.5 percent.
In reality, the total fees charged, when taking into account all fees including product and platform fees, administrative fees and the advisor fees, are more than 30 basis points higher than what they think they actually are.
“This stat should alarm every advisor and force them to go back and look at how they are presenting their fee structure to clients,” says Ron Carson, CEO of Carson Wealth Management Group and founder of the Peak Advisor Alliance. “As an industry, we must do a better job of simplifying a complex fee structure so clients understand the value they are receiving when they work with a financial advisor.“
In 2013, an Investment Company Institute report found that investors pay an average stock and bond mutual fund expense ratio of nearly 0.79 percent. This ratio does not include all fees, including advisor and administrative fees. Nearly 50 percent of advisors responding in the latest Peak/Cerulli survey stated that their most recommended investment strategy carries a fee that is higher than 0.76 percent fee.
“I’ts dangerous to play the guessing game when trying to determine an advisor’s average expense ratio,” says Paul West, managing director, Peak Advisor Alliance. “Every fund, every platform has different fees they charge, so why shy away from them? Advisors need to stop short-changing themselves and their clients and embrace the fees, so clients better understand what services they are being charged for.”
According to a 2012 Cerulli Associates survey, 60 percent of clients do not understand how their financial advisor is charging them. “It is imperative advisors take the time to have a comprehensive conversation about the fees they are being charged. What fees are being charged is just as important to understand why the fee is being charged as well. Advisors must be transparent about the fee structure with their clients to help build trust early in the relationship,” added Carson. “If a client doesn’t know or understand the fees they are being charged they most likely will not ever fully trust their advisor, which can be toxic to the relationship in the long run.”
Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Peak Advisor Alliance is a financial advisor coaching and resources program. For more information, please visit www.peakadvisoralliance.com.
By Ayo Mseka