How to Develop a Fee Schedule

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Teresa Riccobuono

Too many advisors share a reluctance to charge what they are worth. That fear is both a philosophical and a business issue. To overcome it, here are several factors to consider when designing your fee schedule.

The services you provide

In September, I wrote an article on menus of services. I mentioned a variety of ways in which advisors help their clients. I am a big proponent of ongoing, comprehensive financial planning. Offering comprehensive planning services is a philosophical decision – it broadens your mandate beyond merely managing a client’s investments.

If you are not charging an annual fee for financial planning and would like to, refer back to my article. Use my menu of services document as a tool to help facilitate a conversation about the various ways you can help your clients.

Begin by offering annual financial planning to new clients from the beginning. Make this part of your standard operating procedure.

Once you are comfortable having this conversation with new clients, discuss annual planning with your existing clients. Walk them through the menu of services, ask them which areas are of concern to them and which areas they don’t fully understand. Then, share your thoughts on the benefits of annual planning. State that you are working in this manner with all of your new clients and want to offer the service to your existing clients.

Here’s a reminder of some of the benefits of annual planning:

  1. It helps clients articulate their goals and dreams. Each year, they will gain more clarity around what they want to achieve. This can allow you and them to make minor adjustments to your strategies in order to better reach those goals.
  2. By keeping these goals and dreams in the forefront, you can reinforce the need to act in a way that is necessary to reach their goals. Your clients will remain motivated and disciplined to do what is needed. If they become too far removed from their goals, it is easier to stray off course.
  3. Accountability is increased. You, as the advisor, will be kept in the loop with regard to their actions. If you review income, expenses and account values on an annual basis, it is harder for clients to hide large expenditures from you.
  4. Annual planning allows you to take advantage of new investment vehicles, tax law changes, estate planning changes and the like.
  5. Remaining focused on the goals and having a plan in place to help your clients achieve these goals provides you and them with peace of mind.
  6. Clients have you as a go-to person to discuss anything related to their financial situations. Because you will already be familiar with their situations, you will be in a better position to help them.
  7. People with plans tend to be more successful in achieving their goals.