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accustomed to finding information online instantly, not having accessible fee structures might make your firm seem outdated or secretive.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.





Get active in your partnerships

Developing a strong partnership with a professional introducer requires skill, patience and most of all – a lot of proactive effort. Yes, some relationships with the likes of accountants begin with a couple of clients being introduced to you, but this usually peters out if that ongoing commitment to keeping the partnership alive quietly falls away. So what are the key steps for you to go through in order to build durable and strong introducer relationships?


Develop your accountant value proposition

You may have done all of the work developing your client value proposition (CVP), but you’re not finished yet. After all, your CVP is the articulation of the value experienced by your clients, however you now need to be able to communicate the value experienced by accountants in dealing with you. Your CVP starts with understanding your clients and in a similar vein, your accountant proposition starts with understanding accountants; their challenges, the partnerships that they value, where you can provide services that they will truly value etc. If you can help them to solve the problems that they face every day, well then they will place enormous value on your services. So first of all, really understand their business, identify the areas within it where you can add value and then demonstrate that the way you will work with their clients will seriously enhance their own client relationships.


Communicate your value time and time again

You then need to get in front of the accountancy partners time and time again to remind them of the value that you can add and to get regular client referrals. There are many ways you can do this; here are a few examples;

  • Add the partners to your own communication programme: Connect with the partners on LinkedIn and also get their permission to be added to your newsletter subscriber list. Let them see the expertise and thought leadership that you have to offer.
  • Develop bespoke presentations: These are for the initial meeting with the partners and should focus very much on the role of the accountant and how you can assist them in their own role. Personalise each presentation to the role of the particular partner’s area of specialism – for example the presentation to the tax partner should focus on pension reliefs, tax efficient protection products and other tax angles that you can bring to the table. This shows knowledge, understanding and willingness to engage in their areas of challenge with their clients.
  • Case Studies: Prepare a number of case studies of innovative solutions that you’ve implemented and know are relevant to challenges that are typically faced by the accountant. Don’t leave them guessing as to how you can help, join the dots for them.
  • Briefings for partners: Keep the accountants briefed on issues within the life and pensions industry that they need to be aware of, but may not be that knowledgeable. This can be through email contacts, lunchtime meetings or other such channels.


Develop joint marketing activities

And then you need to also promote the accountancy firm and help their bottom line. First of all, refer clients to them whenever possible. If you give them new clients, they are certainly going to try harder to reciprocate. Then offer the accountant the opportunity to include guest posts in your newsletter. This gives the accountant welcome exposure to your clients. You can then look at hosting joint events to which you both bring clients, take a speaking slot to impress the guests, all of this with a view to both you and the accountant meeting the other’s clients and building new relationships.


Prove your value with clients

Of course the biggest barrier to accountants referring clients to you is fear. Fear that you will somehow mess up and as a result cause difficulties for the accountant with their client. So when they do take the leap and finally refer a client to you, it’s imperative that you do a good job (as you do) and then make sure the accountant is aware of it. How do you do this? You might seek a testimonial from the client, which you then share with the accountant. Alternatively you can email the client a few weeks after the end of your work with a short client satisfaction survey – again you will share the results with the accountant.


These are just a few thoughts on building profitable and lasting relationships with accountants. Build their trust, remove their fears, align yourself to their proposition and demonstrate your value time and time again. And then you will be well on the way to breaking the back of that search for new clients.


Your role as a financial therapist

I really think the importance of the role that financial planners play in the lives of your clients cannot be highlighted enough… To think of your role solely in terms of products, investments and even financial plans simply doesn’t do it justice. Each of these are important, but in terms of the lifetime benefits that clients will get from dealing with you, they are simply the tangible means to bring your value into the open.

Where clients encounter the most value is in the psychological and emotional benefits they get from you in your role as their mentor, their guide and yes, their financial therapist. While it might not always be expressed in tangible results in the endless research we see about the value of working with a financial adviser, the benefits are irrefutable.

People want direction

We gain peace of mind when we have clarity in our direction of travel, or what we are trying to accomplish. Having goals in our life is healthy, giving us motivation and an aspiration to achieve. A good financial planner helps clients identify their goals in life and then gives them the roadmap to achieve them, in the form of a financial plan. This clarity of objectives gives clients direction, as opposed to the fog of uncertainty experienced by people who have no aspirations or idea about where they are going.

Advice conversations aid collaborative relationships

I wish I had a euro for every time an adviser has told me a story of a client in a meeting saying to their spouse something along the lines of, “I never knew that was important to you or you thought that!” Deep financial planning conversations will often uncover viewpoints and thoughts that have either not been considered, or which one partner has not openly articulated.

As these new perspectives are brought out into the open and addressed, they result in enriched and more collaborative discussions about money, and even life in general, into the future.

Clarity breeds confidence

In the most recent 2023 Value of Advice report from Brokers Ireland, 58% of people feel more confident and in control of their finances having accessed financial advice. You will find numerous other studies globally that back up these findings. Of course there are financial benefits of receiving advice, and hey, who doesn’t mind having a bit more money to invest or spend? And that is aside from the advice probably resulting in less tax being paid, better structured debt and greater lifetime income and wealth. Each of these are valuable and tangible benefits.

But the real magic comes from people gaining satisfaction and clarity about their financial situation, and from being in control. Knowing their money is being optimally managed, provides mental wellbeing. That gnawing uncertainty of not being in control and making poor money decisions is removed through sound financial advice.

People like to be listened to

This might sound obvious, but we all encounter situations in our lives where our voice is simply not heard. This might be at work, when dealing with a bank or sometimes in a medical situation. The so-called expert on the other side of the table isn’t really interested in what we think and is working from their own well-honed script.

The most effective financial planning conversations are those based on carefully crafted questions and deep listening by the adviser. This is where those hidden, key objectives or values are brought to the surface, which then become centrally embedded in the financial plan. Then the client really feels like they own the plan, that it is theirs and theirs only. So whether it’s about some mad dream the client might have, or gaining crystal clarity about their investment values and preferences, uncovering these can turn good meetings into life-changing conversations for the client.

Regular progress reminders reassure people

Regular review meetings provide ongoing reassurance to people. When reminded of where they started from, where they are trying to get to and where they are on that journey reinforces those positive vibes. We all like to see that we’re making progress in every area of our lives, whether that’s in relation to our career, our finances… or even our golf handicap.

So, do you think your role is as a financial expert? If that’s all you think, I respectfully suggest that you are seriously underselling yourself.

Develop your Soft Skills

As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment.  This final action is probably the most important – developing your soft skills.

In 2021, 194 advisers from Ireland, the UK and South Africa were asked about their interpretation of value.[1] They were presented with a list of 20 skills and attributes and asked to choose their five most important ones, within four categories:

  • Soft Skills
  • Building a Financial Plan
  • Putting the Plan into Action
  • Ongoing Service

Empathy was ranked as the most important skill or attribute by 76% of advisers. This was the clear leader, ahead of Goal Setting (49%) and giving clients Peace of Mind / The Gift of Time (47%). What is noteworthy is the importance placed on soft skills as opposed to technical expertise.

These findings are consistent with the anticipated shift in focus of client propositions away from technical and product areas to instead supporting clients by providing valued financial guidance and ongoing behavioural coaching. This will require an extension of the existing skillset of some Financial Brokers.

Some Financial Brokers may need to review their own ability to have excellent, emotional and empathetic conversations. Today it is relatively commonplace for advisers in the UK and further afield to do courses with organisations like the Kinder Institute of Life Planning,[2] to complete relevant diplomas and to actively work on improving their soft skills.

Do you need coaching in these areas?


Action points for you

  1. Identify the soft skills that you need to carry out your role effectively and get relevant coaching where needed.
  2. Embed these skills into the DNA of your Financial Broker business, placing emphasis on the use of them as much as technical skills.
  3. Train every team member and reward soft skills development.
  4. Practice relentlessly across the team using observation, role plays etc.

[1] PortfolioMetrix – The Insider’s Guide to The Value of Advice, 2021


Build the best team possible

As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment.


We now turn our attention to your people, who are the heartbeat of your business. With many Financial Broker businesses, this starts out with just the business owner, and then expands in line with the growth of the business.

Looking out to 2030, the expectation is that small Financial Broker businesses with one or two advisers will need to have a very good customer service executive who is qualified and willing to advise clients too. This person is a crucial appointment, as it is likely they will interact with every client, and potentially be the sole point of contact for some.

With the need to deliver broader and deeper advice in the future, you as the Principal of the business will only be able to dedicate your time to higher value clients. The expectation is that the 80/20 Rule will continue to apply, with 80% of income coming from 20% of clients. These are the clients who need to get the majority of your time and attention. The customer service executive (or your number two) will need to be able to support you in the delivery of exceptional service to these higher value clients, as well as providing light-touch advice when required to lower value clients. The service to these lower value clients in the future may predominately be through digital channels.

Many Financial Brokers will have greater growth ambitions and wish to scale their businesses. They recognise that with their own time valued at €X per hour as an adviser, there is potential to recruit administrators, compliance and marketing people at a fraction of this cost. This enables the principal to spend their own time only on high value, client-facing activity.  As well as achieving the growth ambitions of the business, people are then working on activities to which they are most suited, which increases efficiency and creates a more enjoyable working environment.

For a Financial Broker at the very outset of their career, or indeed in the run-up to retirement, being a sole practitioner might make sense. However, for a Financial Broker who is planning to be in business for the long term, it is prudent to plan to achieve efficient scale.  It is anecdotally suggested that in the Irish market, efficient scale can be achieved in a Financial Broker’s business with as few as five staff. This typically comprises two advisers and three support people (administration, compliance and marketing).

For firms in the financial planning space and to free up the time of the client-facing advisers, an efficient paraplanning capability will be needed – either delivered in-house or outsourced.

Having appropriate team members that clients can relate to and engage with is important too – this may be a younger adviser to deal with younger clients.


The steps to take

As you consider the future of your business and achieving your strategic objectives, the basic steps to take in relation to building the optimal team are,


  1. Based on your growth ambitions, identify the efficient scale of your business. Then identify the characteristics of the people you need – the future success of your business will be determined by the quality of the people in it.
  2. Recruit people who are qualified or willing to become qualified to carry out their role effectively, both in advice roles and support roles.
  3. Carry out a skills audit regularly, identifying weaknesses or skill gaps in the team. Address these gaps through a continuous training programme.
  4. Motivate and reward the team for the identification and delivery of business improvements, making this a key performance indicator for everyone.


Do you want to reach a younger audience?

As an important element of the research completed for Brokers Ireland on “The Evolution of the Broker Market 2030”, we identified 12 areas to be considered by Financial Brokers to help prepare your business for the changing market environment.


We have considered previously the importance of developing the best proposition and services for different groups of clients and prospects. We now consider the next action identified in the research, which focuses on encouraging younger consumers to engage with Financial Brokers, as this has always been a difficult challenge. However, bringing in younger clients is very important for advice businesses. A balance must be reached between older clients who are currently profitable but may be in or nearing the decumulation phase and having a sufficient number of younger clients who may not be very profitable today but will be in the future.


To attract younger clients, the services you offer will need to be scaled down to make them attractive to younger potential clients and viable for you to deliver. This may mean less frequent reviews, working remotely with clients instead of face-to-face and enabling clients to carry out some tasks themselves using technology. Financial planning and product solutions are needed by and can hugely benefit younger people: it is just that their objectives and goals are different.


It is widely accepted that a Financial Broker’s client base broadly reflects themselves, particularly in terms of age. If you are now in your 50s or later, are you likely to attract younger clients? If you believe this is unlikely, maybe it is timely to bring a young adviser in to your business. A young adviser can probably engage better with a younger audience and if it is early in their career, it is likely that their earnings expectations may be more realistic and affordable for your business.


Social media is not optional if you want to engage a younger generation. For example, Instagram has emerged as a good platform for connecting with younger audiences through mainly educational content.[1] It should be noted that the content required for this platform needs to be very different to that shared with business owners and high net worth individuals on LinkedIn and Twitter. Attempting to engage with younger consumers on Instagram etc. requires carefully developed and bespoke content.


However, a further challenge to be considered is that the wealth in Ireland today is in the older generation – these people have property, good pensions and are wealthy in comparison to other generations. But this wealth will be distributed to children and grandchildren in the coming years. Research has found that more than 70% of heirs are likely to fire or change their adviser after receiving an inheritance.[2] This is a significant challenge for Financial Brokers when they consider their ageing clients dying, and their assets / trail commission being reduced as a result.


Now is the time to develop a proposition to deal with this challenge. This will include engaging with the children of clients through involving them in appropriate advice conversations around their parents’ wealth (with the permission of parents), inviting them to events and engaging them through content marketing. You need to establish your credibility and value in the eyes of the children, long before the assets move to them. The starting point is actually getting to know the children now.