Discounts for the Undeserving

Discounts for the Undeserving

Financial advisors have too many small accounts, data aggregator PriceMetrix says. More than half of the households in the 15,000 books of business it surveyed had assets of less than $100,000. One problem that emerged from the trend, according to a new study by the firm, is that small households are getting better discounts than some larger clients. Part of the reason is the misguided view that small accounts eventually grow into larger ones, a view that isn't born out by history, says Patrick Kennedy, PriceMetrix co-founder and vice president of research and development. Some of the small accounts are clients who joined the advisor in the early days of the practice, so there's a sense of loyalty. And some clients benefit from “sympathy pricing,” or the practice of lowering fees when markets tank. It's a bad practice, the firm asserts, because it generates a message to the public that the value of advice declines when the market declines. One study finding: Advisors who price rationally and consistently outperform peers.

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