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Thoughts on My Flat-Fee Structure


I figured since this is a semi-short week, I would also keep this week’s article short.  This one is just some general reactions and questions I’ve encountered about operating under a flat-fee for the past three-plus years.

  • While more advisors are moving from a commission-based environment to a fee-based one, there are still very few advisors out there operating under a flat-fee arrangement, such as myself.

  • As far as I know, I am still the only flat-fee CFP® in the state of Ohio.

  • They seem to be more popular out west, however, the big advantage I have is I am based in one of the least expensive residential areas in the country.  Beautiful Akron, OH.  In comparison, there are flat-fee advisors who live out west and charge $10,000.   They happen to live in areas with a much higher cost-of-living.

  • On a regular basis I am contacted by other advisors considering moving to a flat-fee arrangement.  Sometimes the conversations are a bit strange.  For example, more than once I’ve talked to an advisor considering moving to a flat-fee who “will charge different fees based on assets and complexity.”   As my wife said after I shared the conversations – “If they are charging different amounts, then those aren’t flat-fees.”

  • Charging a flat-fee to create a financial plan, then charging a fee-based percentage to manage assets, and then getting a fat commission for selling a product is NOT a flat-fee arrangement.  This is becoming more common by phonies trying to call themselves flat-fee advisors.

  • I still get questions of whether my flat-fee is really one fee.  It is just one, flat-fee.  The question usually originates because people think I charge extra for things such as investment management.  Nope.  It is all part of the flat-fee.

  • The bulk of my marketing is this – my regular email.  People find me based on my flat-fee model.  It sure is better than spending thousands of dollars a month to host dinner seminars, which is what so many advisors still do.

  • I’ve mentioned before about how cautious I am with taking on new clients to make sure the fit is right.  Plus, I’ve had to create a waiting list as I only take on one new client a month.

  • Operating under a straightforward flat-fee has led me to be more direct in my overall communications style.  Most feedback I hear is people enjoy how I cut through the confusion the financial services industry likes to create.

  • Final thought – Advisors should charge based on knowledge and expertise, not based on a client’s asset or income level.  That’s what the IRS is for.

That’s about it. I said I would keep it short.  Now, go enjoy the 4th!