Financial advice costs

Paying for financial advice

ASIC receives complaints about the fees charged by financial advisers. It's important to understand exactly how your adviser will be paid before you engage them, and again before you agree to any of their recommendations.

Here we outline some of the fees you may be charged for seeing a financial adviser as well as your payment options.

The first meeting with a financial adviser

The first meeting with an adviser is usually free. During this meeting, you and the adviser can discuss your advice needs and the adviser can give you an idea of what they can do to help you.

The adviser will also be able to tell you how much the advice will cost so you can decide whether to proceed any further. Make sure the cost is given to you in dollars, not just as a percentage of the amount you have to invest.

Statement of advice fee

If you decide to continue with the adviser, they will prepare a statement of advice (SOA) that will formally document the advice, the strategies and any financial products they recommend. The cost for preparing the SOA will be billed to you or may be deducted, with your permission, from the balance of your investment.

Smart tip

Did you know you can negotiate the fees you'll pay with your adviser?

The cost of the advice will depend on its scope. As a guide, expect to pay between $200 and $700 for simple advice and between $2000 and $4000 for more comprehensive advice. If you've agreed to ongoing advice, some of the cost may be paid over time.

If you receive advice about insurance, you may not have to pay for the SOA. This is because the adviser will be paid commissions from the insurance company.

Even if you decide not to proceed with the adviser's recommendations, you will generally be expected to pay for the preparation of the SOA.

Fee for implementing financial advice

If you decide to accept the adviser's recommendations there may be a fee for implementing the advice. This pays for administration work. You may be able to negotiate the rate with your adviser.

There are usually different payment options. You can agree to pay upfront or the cost can be deducted from the investment.

Important:

Never write cheques payable to your adviser if the money will be used for investments. Make the cheque payable to the product provider instead.

Ongoing fees for financial advice

If you've agreed to pay a fee for ongoing advice, it's important to understand what your fee will cover. Services may include:

  • Regular reviews with your financial adviser
  • Regular reports on your investment portfolio
  • Newsletters
  • Invitations to seminars.

Some advisers offer different levels of ongoing service according to the fees paid and the amount of contact you can have with your adviser.

If you are paying ongoing advice fees for services you don't need, you can ask for the fees to be switched off.

Check you are getting what you pay for

ASIC has found some advisers charging for ongoing advice that they have not provided. If you are paying ongoing advice fees, make sure you are getting the agreed service. If you have paid fees for services you haven't received, lodge a complaint through the bank or licensee's internal dispute resolution system as you may be entitled to a refund and compensation. See ASIC's media release for more information.

Podcast on financial advice fees

Listen to Senior Executive Leader, Joanna Bird, talk about how ASIC is addressing advisers' systemic failures to provide ongoing advice services to customers who paid fees for those services. 

podcast

Transcript: Fees for no service report

Implementation fees 

Advisers can charge an implementation fee in addition to your ongoing advice fee if you want to change your financial plan following a review.

Annual fee disclosure statements

If you've agreed to ongoing advice, you will receive an annual fee disclosure statement that will outline the fees you paid, the services you received, and the services you were entitled to receive for the previous 12 months.

Consider whether you have benefitted from the ongoing service and are happy to continue for the next 12 months.

You can end your ongoing relationship with your adviser at any time. See working with a financial adviser  for more information.

See questions to ask a financial adviser for talking points you can use to check the cost of ongoing advice.

Important

Never write cheques payable to your adviser if the money will be used for investments. Make the cheque payable to the product provider instead.

Commissions and fees for financial advice

Commissions and volume-based payments for recommending financial products can influence the advice given by financial advisers.

Commissions were banned on new investments and super products from 1 July 2013. Some other commissions, for example, for selling life insurance, remain.

However, financial products bought before 1 July 2013 can still pay ongoing commissions to the adviser. The commissions will continue to be deducted from your investment until you leave that product or end your relationship with that adviser.

Information about commissions may not be included in your fee disclosure statement.

Smart tip

You are likely to be charged a fee for every investment product you buy. Find out about all the fees, add them up and see if the investment still appeals to you.

How to find out the fees you're paying 

If you're unsure about the fees you're paying, talk to your adviser. Ask them to explain the products you have bought and whether there are commissions involved.

If commissions are being deducted from your investments and you're not happy with this arrangement, speak to your adviser about your options. You may be able to switch to a product that doesn't pay commissions, or arrange for the commissions to be rebated to you.

Remember, any fee you pay reduces the money you have to invest.

Complaining about fees

If you're not happy with the adviser's response (or they refuse to speak to you) you should make a complaint using the adviser's complaints process.

See problems with a financial adviser for more information about what to do if you're unhappy with the service you've received from an adviser.

Case study: Edward asks to see all the fees

Older Guy With PapersEdward goes to see a financial adviser. The adviser takes the time to understand what Edward wants to acheive and offers to put together a financial plan for $1,500 and implement the advice for a further $1,500. The adviser also tells Edward that there may be other fees for the products that have been recommended. Edward agrees to pay for the financial plan.

At the next meeting, Edward receives the plan which also outlines the additional fees for implementing the advice. The fees include:

  • $1,000 a year payable to the adviser for reviewing Edward's investments
  • $1,500 a year for access to the investment platform
  • $1,500 a year payable to the investment managers for managing Edward's investment
  • a further $1,000 a year for an income protection policy that Edward requested.

Edward asks the adviser to set out the total amount he is payng in fees, and who's receiving each fee. The adviser tells Edward this information is in a table at the back of the SOA that summarises all the fees and charges relating to the first year of advice.

Edwards fees
Fees payable by Edward Fees paid by Edward Fees charged by % per annum Fees received by
Financial planner Investment platform Product issuers
Upfront fees
Financial plan fee $1,500 - $1,500 - -
Implementation fee $1,500 - $1,500  - -
Ongoing fees on $200,000 Investment
Ongoing advice fees $1,000 0.50% $1,000 - -
Platform administration fees $1,500 0.75%   $1,500  
Investment management fees $1,500 0.75% - - $1,500
Total ongoing management fees $4,000 2.00% - - -
Insurance premiums
Insurance premiums year 1 (100% commission to adviser) $1,000 - $1,000 - -
Total fees in Year 1 $8,000 - $5,000 $1,500 $1,500

Edward now understands that the total fees for the first year are $8,000.

An adviser must be remunerated for their services, however, it's in your best interest to know how much and how often you will pay for the advice you receive.


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Last updated: 21 Nov 2016