Friday, 15 May 2009

Have you switched to fees yet?

Axa Winterthur have published an interesting survey this week on how IFA's are adapting their service models to help them cope with the current economic downturn. Despite the apparent desire and push to move to a fee based model for many IFA firms over recent years, the survey reveals that 6 out of 10 IFA's are currently running a commission based business but they expect to increase the fee-based portion over the next 12 months.

So yet again we see a drive towards and a desire for fee-based business models but it seems that progress is slow. So why the delay? Experience tells me that many firms want to get there but practically they just don't know how. Help and guidance is needed if firms are to get their businesses ready for a post RDR world. So how do you get there?

The important focus must be on being able to demonstrate the value of your proposition to your clients. There is a huge misconception by consumers that advice is free and if this is to change then IFA's need to really show their clients what they are paying for. This means that firms need to take steps to firstly understand the demographics of their client base, conducting an unbiased segmentation of their clients, and secondly to ask their clients what they think about the existing services they offer. Only then can a firm understand how to change their business model and proposition to justify a shift to fee-based advice.

In my opinion there will still be a place for transactional businesses post RDR, but there is much uncertainty and speculation over the business and distribution model for such firms. Those businesses who decide to move to a fee based, truly independent proposition have huge opportunities in front of them, but only if they can get their service proposition right for each segment of their client base.

A strong service proposition, together with effective marketing based on an understanding of the needs and financial behaviour of a particular client segment means that firms can truly maximise those opportunities and build a strong business fit to weather any economic storm.

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