How to Tell Clients You Are Raising Your Fee
You can show a client how to save for a successful retirement, but you cannot make him act on your advice. You can do everything for a client but make the decisions. Nonetheless, if people take your advice, they will educate their children without borrowing money and eventually retire with no financial worries. It is egregious to think that setting up a successful plan for someone and then politely goading that person into action over the next several years until that person’s financial dreams come true is only worth one percent. But that’s the corner we’ve painted ourselves into.
In my opinion, a competent Financial Advisor is one of the most underpaid professionals in the world. Next to the family doctor, you are the most important person that family will ever meet. You are the best deal in town and your fee should never be an issue.
Unfortunately, fees have fallen continually and the people leading the way down control both the argument and the semantics. They’ve made the function of an Advisor about price and price alone.
“Mr. Consumer, if you want someone to manage your assets, why would you pay more than what we are charging?”
It’s difficult, if not impossible; to raise your fee if your client thinks the fee he or she pays is strictly for managing assets.
The client has every right to ask, “What have you done lately to deserve this increase?” That is especially true if the performance has failed to meet or surpass the client’s expectations. Saying your costs have gone up will not cut it.
If you want to set a high initial fee, if you want to justify your existing fee or if you want to raise your existing fee, you must prove that your fee is worth it. Specifically, you must make your client aware that you are doing a lot more to earn the fee than allocating your client’s assets across a pre-determined platform.
In most cases, we don’t even manage the money. We hand the steering wheel to somebody else. To the untrained eye, we earn a substantial fee and do hardly any heavy lifting. And it’s not just clients who feel that way. There are too many Advisors undercharging for their services, because they don’t know how valuable they are.
In all my years of dealing with clients, I cannot recall ever having met a client who was fully versed on the duties of a competent Advisor. We don’t have a fee problem. We have a communications problem.
Raising your fee to a level you deserve begins with proper education.
Consider for a moment all you can do for a family. Here is only a partial list, but a list that is unknown by most clients.
- Assess a family’s financial health
- Calculate a family’s net worth
- Administer 401(k) advice
- Figure out if the proper people are adequately insured
- Determine where they stand on the retirement path
- Create an effective financial plan
- Set up college funding plan
- Set up an estate plan
- Put these plans into action
- Stay with that family throughout the years the plans are in effect
- Deal with changing goals and changing circumstances
- Set realistic financial and personal goals
- Assist with rolling over a pension or IRA
- Walk the family through a financial crisis brought on by illness or other catastrophe
- Explain and monitor risk
- Choose the proper investments
- Explain reasonable rates of return
- Assist with decisions about qualified versus non-qualifies monies
- Decide on taxable versus non-taxable investments
- Generate income
- Adjust all projections for inflation
For the sake of time and space, I’m going to stop here. Do you do all these things and more? Of course you do.
I didn’t even list the most important thing you do. You’re there when you have nothing to sell.
Is all this worth more than one percent? Of course it is.
Do you want to be paid what you are worth? Are you being paid what you are worth? You can’t raise your fees to a level you deserve if your clients don’t know what you do. Put this information into your ‘Who I Am’ story and set up appointments starting now.
That family has you on retainer for life. If I have $100,000 to invest and you’ll do all these things and more for me, I’ll gladly pay $3.00 a day to have you at my beck and call 365/24/7.