Commission-Based Clients Don’t Want Fee-Only Accounts

Commission-Based Clients Don’t Want Fee-Only Accounts

In a recent J.D. Power survey, almost 60% of investors at full-service commission-based firms said they would “probably” or “definitely” take their business elsewhere if they were forced to switch into a fee-only model. The results highlight concerns that as many brokerage firms look at switching to fee-based accounts or other more levelized compensation approaches under the DoL fiduciary rule, that many consumers will be unwilling to stick with the change. In other words, at least some segment of those who have chosen commission-based accounts appear to have proactively chosen the path – which helps to explain why many firms looking at fee-based accounts are still aiming to preserve at least a self-directed brokerage option. Though, in point of fact, this perhaps simply helps to illustrate that if advisors are going to charge ongoing fees, they need to provide ongoing value, and that consumer perception is that commission-based advisors aren’t providing ongoing value (and therefore the consumers don’t want to switch to pay an ongoing fee). In fact, the J.D. Power study also shows that consumers who do use fee-based accounts are actually more satisfied with what they pay than those who pay commissions. Which means those who choose to pay ongoing fees for ongoing services really are more satisfied with what they get. But clearly, the results show that not everyone wants to pay ongoing fees for that level of ongoing service and advice. Similarly, a recent Spectrem Investor Pulse study also found that only 2/3rds of investors say they’re familiar with the term fiduciary, and even fewer know what it means, and, as a result, few are willing to pay more for fiduciary services… although 65% did agree that a fiduciary rule for advisors was necessary.


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