Should you put details of your fees and charges on your website?

This could be the single question I’m most frequently asked… Of course, I’m not talking about what you are required to show on your website in relation to commissions received, as outlined by the Central Bank. Let’s be honest, the information provided is often “as clear as mud” and raises as many questions as it answers,

Instead, I’m asked about whether you should set out very clearly and succinctly your fees and charges, to help prospective clients inform themselves before contacting you. I’m asked this by advisers who have developed and documented their proposition and have also implemented a structured pricing model – not everyone has done this work, which is a critical forerunner to answering the question.

Of course, like most things, there is no simple answer. This question is not just about transparency; it’s about business strategy, client relationships, and market positioning. I’m going to delve into a few areas of this topic, examining both sides of the argument.

Let’s start with the pros – the reasons for showing clear charging information.


Building Trust

At the heart of the argument for listing fees and charges on a website is trust. By openly sharing the likes of your fee structures and trail commission levels, you can immediately establish a sense of honesty and transparency with potential clients. This approach can be particularly appealing to the growing segment of consumers who value upfront information before engaging in any business relationship. In an industry where trust is paramount, showing fees and charges upfront can differentiate you from competitors who may seem less transparent.


Streamlining the Client Acquisition Process

Showing your fees and charges online can also streamline the client acquisition process. Prospective clients can self-select, making initial consultations more efficient. By the time a prospect reaches out, they have already considered your fee structure, reducing the likelihood of price being a primary objection later on. This efficiency can free up valuable time for you to focus on serving your clients, rather than discussing and negotiating fees.


Reflecting Modern Consumer Expectations

The digital age has shifted consumer expectations across all industries. With most people accustomed to finding information online instantly, not having accessible fee structures might make your firm seem outdated or secretive. By meeting these modern expectations, you can attract a broader, more tech-savvy clientele.


On the other hand, some advice firms have carefully considered this question and decided not to display their fees and charges, beyond what is required by CBOI. Here are some of the reasons.


The Nuance of Financial Advice

Some advisers believe that posting fees and charges online oversimplifies the nuanced nature of financial advice. Every client’s situation is unique, and a one-size-fits-all fee structure may not accurately represent the value or complexity of services provided. By not listing fees, advisers can emphasise the customised approach they take with each client, ensuring that the price reflects the personalised service and value delivered.


Avoiding Price Wars

Not listing fees and charges can also protect you from becoming embroiled in price wars. Without public fee structures, firms are less likely to be directly compared based solely on price. This strategy allows you to compete on the quality and breadth of your services rather than price alone, which can be a race to the bottom and detract from the perceived value of financial advice.


Encouraging Personal Interactions

Choosing not to list your fees and charges may encourage potential clients to make direct contact to discuss their needs, allowing you to build a rapport and tailor your pitch to the individual’s circumstances. This personal interaction can be crucial in establishing a strong adviser-client relationship, providing an opportunity to explain the rationale behind the fees and the unique value proposition of your services.


A Middle Ground?

For others, their solution is less black and white, and a little more grey. Instead of posting detailed fee schedules and trail commission levels, they provide a range of fees or average costs, accompanied by a disclaimer that actual fees and trail commission levels will depend on a number of factors, such as the client’s specific needs and circumstances or indeed their level of assets. This approach balances the desire for transparency with the need for customisation, inviting prospective clients to inquire further for more personalised information.

So is this the right answer?

At the end of the day, there’s no right answer. The decision to list fees and charges on your website depends on your business model, target clientele, and competitive landscape. For some, transparency is a key differentiator that aligns with their brand values and client expectations. For others, the bespoke nature of their services and the desire to avoid price-based comparisons may lead them to withhold specific fee information, emphasising the value and customisation of their advice instead.

In either case, the overarching principle should be clear: build trust with potential clients by being as transparent as possible in a manner that aligns with your service model and market positioning.





Getting help to communicate with existing clients and prospects

Maybe about once every year or two, we include an article in our newsletter that’s a bit of a sales pitch. This is one of those rare occasions! But it’s not without merit as it relates to a significant and important challenge for many financial advice firms, and that is staying in touch with existing clients and with prospects.

There is no good reason NOT to do it. After all, your existing clients deserve to hear from you regularly, and to be made aware of the range of financial planning services and product areas in which you deliver expertise every day. There is nothing more frustrating for a financial adviser than bumping into a “life assurance client”, only to be told they just arranged their pension elsewhere as the client wasn’t aware of the adviser’s expertise in this area. It is also an important demonstration of value as part-justification of your ongoing charge / trail commission. As we see in the UK, this is becoming a prominent challenge – being able to justify your ongoing charge.

It is also important for you to stay on the radar of prospective clients. They might have made an enquiry, and then drifted off as maybe the query wasn’t urgent for them, or they simply became distracted by other areas of life. You want to stay on their radar for when their query bubbles to the surface of their minds again.

We believe at StepChange that email is still probably the most effective way of communicating with clients. Social media of course has its place and its benefits, but email ensures you regularly get a presence in that place we all go to every day – their email inbox. This was the driver in setting up our Adviser Newsletter Service, and we are delighted to be sending out client newsletters for a wide range of advice firms across Ireland for well over a decade now.

Here’s how it works.

  1. The newsletter is a syndicated publication that goes out every 2 months. The same content is used for multiple advice firms, but it is sent under each individual brand. Whether you have additional content to add or not, you know your clients will be contacted at least 6 times a year with excellent quality content. Also, in 12 years of providing the service, we have never missed an issue deadline so you can rest assured of the consistency of delivery. This might be the biggest challenge for firms looking to do their newsletters themselves.
  2. Each newsletter contains 2 original articles that I write and also approx 5/6 links to interesting, relevant content that I find on the web that I think will be of interest to your clients.
  3. The newsletter is aimed at clients of financial planning firms, with content mainly about financial planning, and also covering pensions, investments & protection in a financial planning context. We don’t include articles about general insurance, mortgages or health insurance.
  4. The newsletter is fully customised for your business with your logo, brand colours, photo, contact details etc. The newsletter is seen as coming from you, not from us. You can also personalise the introduction to the newsletter yourself each month if you want.
  5. We provide you with the completed newsletter each time with the articles as in point 2 above and will send it out on your behalf if you so wish – you can choose whether or not to be completely “hands off”. However alternatively you can also add / change articles yourself if you want and send it out yourself – it’s very easy.
  6. There will also be a “flyer” added to your account for sending out one-off messages. This is something you can use yourself, with the help initially of our training. You might use this for “dressed up” emails about a company announcement or a budget update etc.
  7. The software that we use automatically manages your subscribers – removes unsubscribes, allows you to sub-segment if you wish etc. Adding new subscribers is very straightforward.
  8. You’ll have access to your analytics, which are great. They give great insight into the engagement of each individual with your newsletter – who is opening, clicking on content, what they are reading, sharing, liking etc.
  9. The maximum number of emails that can be sent is 120,000 per annum. That’s a lot of emails!
  10. For most participants (but as an optional extra), we also then take this content and each month add an article to your website and share the articles out to the LinkedIn connections of the key person in the business, increasing the reach of the content.

Would you like to find out more about our newsletter service? If so, please give me a call at 086 2519895 or email me.