As with most professional services, a fee is the traditional form of compensation paid for services rendered. However, in the financial services industry, financial advisors and planners have been historically compensated in a couple of different ways; commissions and/or fees.
While we prefer to work with clients on a fee-only basis, there are rare instances when a commission-based product is used. Regardless of the form of compensation, the most important aspect we think should be considered is the transparency of fees, full disclosure, and following a fiduciary standard. We are fully committed to providing our clients with fair and reasonable fees and to ensure that clients completely understand those fees.
With that in mind, and in an effort to educate, you will find the different compensation structures below along with an explanation of the fee structure at Williams Asset Management.
An advisor working on a commission basis will generate compensation after his or her client purchases a product. Sometimes the commission is obvious, but other times it can be more difficult to determine.
We believe commissions can create a potential conflict-of-interest for an advisor because he/she may have an incentive to recommend a product that compensates him/her the most whether or not those investments are really best for you, the client.
An advisor may describe his or her practice as “fee-only” if, and only if, all of the advisor’s compensation from all of his or her client work comes exclusively from the clients in the form of fixed, flat, hourly, percentage or performance-based fees.
Therefore, a fee-only advisor, would not be permitted to provide life insurance, long-term care insurance, annuities or any other investment for commission.
Fee-based planners blend the commission-only and fee-only models.
They can provide an investment and get a commission from that transaction, or they may charge you a fee calculated as a percentage of assets to manage your portfolio, or they may do both.