Commission to Fee Only

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Mar 18, 2008 1:00 am

I have gone from a broker based practice to a fee only independent practice.  I have one client that invested with me right before I converted.  How do I make this right now to her in my billing? Do you give the client credit for the commission paid and then subtract from that fees earned until they owe you? I'm also not sure if I charge her for the last quarter of last year when doing these calculations.

What is common practice?

Thanks




Mar 18, 2008 8:09 am

How do I make this right now to her in my billing?


You make it right by never billing her for this money.  She made an investment knowing what the costs will be both from an upfront commission standpoint and an ongoing basis. 
 
 
Mar 18, 2008 8:37 am

I agree. 

Mar 18, 2008 9:08 am

So if I understand correctly...when you converting commission based clients to fee only...you charge only on new money?  The brokerage firm I was with had some kind of formula for converting commission clients to the advisory side of the business...I believe they billed the current advisory rate...and then credited commissions paid by the client until the client used up the commissions.

Mar 18, 2008 9:42 am
intrigued:

I have gone from a broker based practice to a fee only independent practice.


I think you need to clarify what precisely you mean by an "independent fee only practice."  People often times use this term very loosely.

Are you an RIA?  A rep with an independent B/D?

Mar 18, 2008 12:20 pm
intrigued:

So if I understand correctly...when you converting commission based clients to fee only...you charge only on new money?  The brokerage firm I was with had some kind of formula for converting commission clients to the advisory side of the business...I believe they billed the current advisory rate...and then credited commissions paid by the client until the client used up the commissions.

 
That's a reasonable strategy.  The only problem is if you sold them on the merits of A Shares last week, and this week you are selling them on fees. 
Mar 18, 2008 7:27 pm

if you charge your fee on top top of index funds or ETFs, then they are NOT paying more (after you figure in the trading costs AND the expense ratio/12b1s of those actrively managed funds). The loads were ON TOP of all that--so moving forward as of today the costs aren't much different either way. And even if they are slightly more now with the fee, it is worth it to not have all your money with one fund family just to hit a stupid breakpoint.

Mar 18, 2008 7:59 pm

your idea to credit them for commissions paid sounds very fair to me. 

Mar 18, 2008 8:09 pm
anonymous:

How do I make this right now to her in my billing?


You make it right by never billing her for this money.  She made an investment knowing what the costs will be both from an upfront commission standpoint and an ongoing basis. 
 
 
 
What a perfect illustration of the problems of upfront commissions.  How in the world can he service the account for no compensation till the end of time? 
 
I promised my high school girlfriend that I would always love her no matter what.  How do you think that turned out?
 
The world changes.  All promises cannot be kept.  This client is more than welcome to reject the fees and stay with the prior firm or go elsewhere.
Mar 18, 2008 9:41 pm

 You seem to be missing the part where he said, "I have one client that invested with me right before I converted."  He knew that he was making the switch.  Therefore, he should either have not taken her on as a client or he shouldn't be charging her a fee for that portion of the money.


 
Mar 18, 2008 10:35 pm

Yes, he made a mistake, but he obviously can't go back in time and change it.  If he clearly explains the pros and cons of fees, and gives her an equivalent number of years free then allows her to make the choice to stay or leave then I think he has made up for his sins.   

Mar 19, 2008 7:27 am
Morphius:
intrigued:

I have gone from a broker based practice to a fee only independent practice.


I think you need to clarify what precisely you mean by an "independent fee only practice."  People often times use this term very loosely.

Are you an RIA?  A rep with an independent B/D?


Intrigued,

In addition to the advice you are getting here, you also need to recognize that there is a compliance element to whatever you wish to do with fee adjustments.  The particulars vary depending on your specific legal status as either an RIA or RR of a B/D, which is why I asked the question earlier.

Which is it?

Mar 19, 2008 8:50 am

The point is (and I do not know the actual timeline of this specific client) you cannot sell them A shares Monday and then Tuesday say you had a revelation last night and realized fee based is the way to go.  He likely knew he was going fee based when he made the original transaction, so "fixing it" now can be problematic.

Mar 25, 2008 9:39 am

I'm an independent RIA.

The situation was I was with a broker/dealer that I could do advisory business with at the time but the cost to the client would have ended up at about 2% vs 4% load. I chose what was best for the client at the time.  I left the broker/dealer because I found their fees on advisory business was ludicrous.

As for compliance the wording in my adv says up to x%...but I do have provisions in the wording for discounts.


Mar 25, 2008 11:11 am

Intrigued, I've always wandered why someone would go fee-only.  Simply from the insurance aspect, it seems like a mistake, since you can't adequately help them in that area.  Do you tend to ignore insurance subjects or do you send them to somebody else or are you not fee only?

Mar 25, 2008 3:44 pm
intrigued:

I'm an independent RIA.

The situation was I was with a broker/dealer that I could do advisory business with at the time but the cost to the client would have ended up at about 2% vs 4% load. I chose what was best for the client at the time.  I left the broker/dealer because I found their fees on advisory business was ludicrous.

As for compliance the wording in my adv says up to x%...but I do have provisions in the wording for discounts.


Keep in mind that simply calling something a discount does not necessarily make it so from a regulatory standpoint.  Depending on the specifics, it sounds to me like what you are describing might very well be considered by the SEC as a commission rebate or recapture, not a fee discount.  Does your ADV address either of those topics?

Mar 25, 2008 4:05 pm

When Jones goes to the advisory account, will we be converting old A shares over?

 
I guess I assumed that A shares would stay as such and only new money--from new clients--would be going into the fee-based account.
 
Now I'm confused.
Mar 25, 2008 4:24 pm

I'm afraid that's a detail they aren't really going to let out of the bag until summer regionals.  I've heard rumors that they've addressed the issue, but no details.  The comment from the GP went something "if you have a client who paid you commissions recently, but would like to switch to fee based, you'd like to reimburse them for the commissions they already paid, wouldn't you?"  Take that for what it's worth.

Mar 25, 2008 4:57 pm
Borker Boy:

When Jones goes to the advisory account, will we be converting old A shares over?

 
I guess I assumed that A shares would stay as such and only new money--from new clients--would be going into the fee-based account.
 
Now I'm confused.


I'm no Jones expert but no client can be 'converted' to an advisory account without their explicit  approval and repapering of the relevant accounts.

Mar 26, 2008 4:31 pm

I heard they must be at least 4 years into Ashares first before the "switch".