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Advice firms hit back over fee disclosure claims

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Advisers have hit back at claims they are failing to disclose fees on their websites after a survey found just 10 per cent of firms provide details.

Research by IFA Candid Financial Advice found that just five of the UK’s largest 50 advisers detail charges for financial advice on their websites.

Candid founder Justin Modray says the state of affairs makes finding a competitive deal more difficult for consumers.

“I appreciate that exact adviser fees can sometimes only be established after a chat to gauge the work involved. But when advisers fail to give any indication of potential costs on their websites it suggests their fees and probably high,” Modray says.

“Consumers want clarity and transparency from websites, but I imagine they are more often than not left wondering whether an adviser will simply try and charge as much as they can get away with.”

Modray named St James’s Place, Chase de Vere, Succession, UBS, Punter Southall and Ashcourt Rowan among the firms failing to disclose their charges.

However, several of the firms have hit back and justified their stance.

St James’s Place marketing and communications director Andrew Humphries agrees investors should be clear on the cost of investing before deciding whether to proceed.

“The wide variety of different business models available makes it difficult for most investors to access the various elements in what is a very fragmented market. That’s why, as well as providing the information on each element, we provide clients with a total figure,” Humphries says.

Chase de Vere head of communications Patrick Connolly says the firm is unable to provide fees on its website as costs depend on specific advice and service requirements of clients. However, he says the firm will look again at whether it can disclose fees on its website without being misleading.

He says: “Some clients will have complicated financial affairs, while for others will be more straightforward and so less time consuming and less technical. Some will want four face-to-face meetings with their adviser each year, some will want two and others only one. This will be reflected in the amount they pay.

“For some clients it will be appropriate to pay a percentage fee based on their investment assets and for others it will be more suitable for them to pay time-costed hourly fees or fixed fees. There isn’t a one-size fits all approach.”

Succession group chief executive Simon Chamberlain adds that his firm details service and fee options at a first meeting held at Succession’s expense.

He says: “Our fees are fully transparent to clients from the outset, and are clearly articulated in the letter of engagement.”

Both UBS and Ashcourt Rowan declined to comment when contacted by Money Marketing.

Punter Southall did not respond to requests for comment.

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  1. This has been highlighted in another publication and is perhaps slightly old news…..
    The FCA has just confirmed – or clarified – that firms do not have to publish their costs on their website although do say this is considered “best practice”. This is slightly different from what some advisers have been told or understood to be the case. The term “best practice” is odd to say the least too as it suggests other methods are less acceptable such as inviting the client to meet with you for a free meeting to discuss their needs and draw up an appropriate scope of work agreed with the client before any chargeable work is done. Which actually seems saner and fairer! Also our experience and that of others apparently is that publishing fees is detrimental to clients and confusing (and if e are honest also means that we may lose business on the basis that consumers know the price of everything and the value of nothing).
    While I can see the argument that it is difficult for consumers to shop around the fact is that advice can be complex and there is no one shape fits all. I have argued it before, if you want a job done on the house you get quotes by getting the builder round to assess the job and identify the problems you may have overlooked.
    Our services and fees brochure which is available upon request gives an indication of costs but in that same brochure there are 9 or 10 reasons given as to why the indicative costs may not apply! Advice and planning is bespoke, the scope of work is tailored accordingly and the fee agreed in accordance with the way we work in advance of any chargeable work being done. I would suggest that is best practice…….

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