Advisers debate whether to charge for an initial meeting

financial advice fees elixir consulting advice fees

20 June 2024
| By Laura Dew |
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Money Management speaks with five advisers on whether or not they charge for their initial meetings, as Elixir Consulting finds the volume opting to charge has doubled since 2020.

Research from Elixir Consulting in its Advice Operations Research Report 2024 found the number of people with the volume of advisers surveyed who charged for the first meeting was 19 per cent, up from 9 per cent in the previous report in 2020. 

The average fee charged for this first meeting was $447, although the largest was $1,500.

Lana Clark, senior consultant at Elixir, said: “While this poses the question that clients place a higher value on the adviser if they are paying for the initial meeting, it also might suggest that advisers are now prioritising time and expertise.

“Additionally, 9 per cent say they take a middle-ground approach, not explicitly charging but incorporating the time into their fees upon client engagement.”

Some respondents ticked “other” which Elixir said covered features such as they have done occasionally, if the client is seeking factual information or if they feel the relationship is unlikely to progress beyond that first meeting.

Adviser experiences

YES: Ronald Pratap, senior financial adviser at RP Wealth Management

“I never used to charge for an initial appointment, but now we’re spending more time on that initial appointment and giving a lot of general advice. Now we have to treat ourselves more like professionals, like a lawyer that charges in 15-minute increments. I don’t do that, but for the first meeting I do charge unless that comes from a referral partner.

“A lot of the time, people that aren’t used to advice are coming through from a website lead or finding me on social media. They’re not going to understand how much financial planning costs. So you’ve got to get them to the point to accept this is how much advice is and why it costs so much. You have to explain the compliance process, how we put the statement of advice together, the time spent on it – but you’re almost preparing yourself for pushback.”

NO: Robert Rich, financial adviser at Unite Wealth 

“Our philosophy has been not to charge for an initial meeting as we are unable to provide any value to clients in a meeting where we are just trying to ‘get to know them’. Charging $0 for a meeting leads to more opportunities in front of clients that we might not have had otherwise.

“We back our skills in the initial meeting to either identify that we’re not able to provide the client with sufficient value, give them some pointers on areas to focus on, and not charge a fee, or identify that there is significant value from going through our process and finding ways to demonstrate it to the prospective clients.”

YES: Josh Lee, director and financial adviser at Link Wealth Group

“I do charge for two reasons: firstly, it can help weed out tyre kickers from wasting your time when they were never wanting to pay for advice in the first place. Secondly, it covers the cost of time if clients go through the initial process and don’t engage. By this stage I would have spent circa three hours with them. 

“I am a big fan [of charging] and think advisers should be doing it if they value their time and services they provide.”

OTHER: James O’Reilly, financial adviser at Northeast Wealth 

“We have a free alignment session which is an ‘are we a fit for one another’ meeting. No advice, no exploring goals etc, just ‘who are you and who are we?’ which is with an adviser. 

“Assuming all good, the next step is that we’ll meet to formally start the process – discuss goals, clarify financial position and outline how we can help. That meeting is $495. Still no advice at this point; if the prospect wants to get advice with us, they will pay a deposit on their quoted advice fee, and we can kick off.”

OTHER: Trish Gregory, financial adviser at Fox & Hare 

“Prospects meet with our member success manager for free first to get an understanding of our work, whether we can help them and which adviser they should see.

“We have started charging for the first meeting with the adviser; the change was really prompted by the amount of first free meetings with the adviser being cancelled and moved last minute. It took significant time for both myself and my admin team to prep for the free meeting, which was a 90-min slot in my diary, and follow-up prep for my team when the prospect wouldn’t provide us with the needed info in a timely manner.

“So we changed to charging a couple of hundred dollars. I don’t think we’ve necessarily had more people come on, but the people that have come through to me have a higher chance of coming on as members as they’re more committed. To a degree, charging the fee has reduced the amount of people just wanting to have a chat, and increased the people who are serious about getting advice.”


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