Sharing her experience with the fee-only model at Cafemutual IFA Event 2017 (CIFA17), Kavitha Menon, a Mumbai-based RIA talks about how she convinces clients to pay a fee.
“Charging a fee depends on how the client perceives you. If he sees you as someone whose judgement he can depend on and trust, it is easy to charge a fee. On the other hand, if your clients see you as a facilitator of a transaction, they might find it difficult to accept you in the role of an advisor. For such clients, you will need a different strategy to gradually bring them into a fee based model,” she advises.
Highlighting how she overcame challenges while charging fees, Kavitha says that advisors must first upgrade their skills. “Clients will pay a fee but only when he realises what value you bring in return. IFAs must be very clear about what services they will be offering to their clients. You must internalise your offering and be able to justify how your fee proposal matches your value addition,” she says.
Talking about how to decide on the fee structure, Kavitha says, “You can base your fee on your years of experience, your practices, your skills and your qualifications. You need to communicate your value proposition along with a reasonable fee structure so that your client understands what he is paying for.”
“You also need to document and communicate performance on a continuous basis, so that the client is reminded of what he is paying for. Often it is easier to get the first cheque but the subsequent cheques for reviews need more convincing. By documenting every piece of advice and work, you do for your client, it becomes easier in convincing them to pay a fee for review,” she says.
Talking about what advisors must do to run a successful fee only practice, Kavitha says, “The most important thing to do is to choose your clients wisely. What worked for me was I approached those clients with whom I had a good relationship and who knew I had a good value proposition.”
“The next important thing is to have an easy to understand fee structure. In my case, I take a fixed fee at the beginning and review the fee only in the next year. Also in the beginning, it helps to be flexible with payments. The client is also new to paying a fee, a little flexibility will go a long way in building his trust in you,” she says.
Another important thing Kavitha has done to improve her client experience is to leverage technology. “There is no reason why paying an advisor shouldn’t be as simple as paying your mobile bill. It also helps to have a follow-up system in the CMS where reminders are sent to the client via SMS,” she says.
However, Kavitha warns advisors against giving out free or discounted services. “If a few clients leave you because you are not ready to offer a discounted service, don’t get disheartened. It is best to let the freeloaders go,” she says.
Kavitha is the founder – Probitus Wealth. She is a Certified Financial Planner as well as a Chartered Financial Analyst (India). She also holds a Master’s (MMS) in Finance. After spending prominent time with Parag Parikh Financial Advisory Services as Vice President, Wealth Management Division, Kavitha started working as an IFA. She has 15 years of experience in the field of wealth management and financial planning.