Unlocking Real Value Blog

Fitting Fee-Based Business Into Your Practice

Last week I blogged about a new report from PriceMetrix which highlighted that advisors who are aggressively transitioning to fee-based business performed better over the past three years, and grew their businesses faster, than slower-converting peers. Now I want to highlight a few more interesting findings from the report, which shed light on how fee-based business can fit into any advisor’s practice.

The trend toward fee-based business continues, but transaction business is not going away. Over the past three years, as reported by PriceMetrix, the percentage of industry assets in fee-based accounts has increased from 21% to 28%. While 91% of advisors have at least one fee-based account in their book of business, the still remaining overall high percentage of transactional business illustrates that fee-based business has a very long way to go.

In fact, only one percent of advisors have 90% or more of their client’s assets in fee-based accounts. The important point here is that while transitioning makes sense, and as PriceMetrix points out faster may be better, it would be a mistake for advisors to try to move all of their clients into fee-based business – don’t force business where it doesn’t fit. Having hybrid households (where clients have at least one transactional account in addition to one fee-based account) is becoming more the norm than the exception, and that’s okay.

The report also found that a large percentage of the increase in fee-based accounts came from new relationships, about two thirds. The implication here is that advisors might be wise to adopt a two-pronged transition strategy – one for current accounts, which might again result in more new hybrid relationships, and one for new relationships where there is no preconceived notion or expectations.

Finally, the report concluded that clients between the ages of 40 and 64 have the highest propensity to use fee-based accounts, and less experienced advisors tended to be more enthusiastic about fee-based accounts. This tells me that next year’s report might find younger clients migrating more to fee-based accounts, not only because their presumably younger advisors are advocating it, but also because of the proliferation of new model-based managed accounts, which has resulted in the lowering of account minimums in many programs, thereby making them more affordable to a younger demographic.

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