Financial Advisor Copywriting: How Should You Disclose Your Fees?
When you’re creating financial advisor copywriting for your website, there’s one area that generates more angst than any other: that’s the whole topic of disclosing your fees on the website.
Should you post your fees on your website, or not?
If you’re serious about generating leads online, the answer is usually yes. Many recoil at that idea, afraid to disclose too much before a prospect even makes contact. But if you don’t include your fees, you give the distinct impression you are hiding something. People will assume you’re too expensive. Then, those who do post their fees help overcome that mystery. That helps build trust and makes that firm seem less risky to talk to. However, I’m well aware that big jump to making your fees easily accessible to the world is very uncomfortable to most financial advisors. (You’re not alone; it’s uncomfortable for most service businesses, period.) Fortunately, I have good news…in our experience, discussing your fees online does not have to be an all-or-nothing prospect.
In the dark
In the past, most financial advisor websites didn’t even broach the subject. This created a vacuum and most likely just created more questions in the mind of website visitors. However, in the past, most financial advisor websites didn’t get much traffic, so it probably didn’t make much of a difference. But today, the online world is different. People are actively looking for financial advisors online. If your website doesn’t include fees, that may not sit well with website visitors considering your services. Other firms that are more transparent will likely seem more trustworthy and easy to work with. So while this creates pressure to be transparent, this is also creating an opportunity for more proactive financial advisors to differentiate themselves.
Build trust through transparency
If you’re a financial advisor with a consumer-friendly business model, you can build trust by disclosing all of your fees. That makes contacting your firm a lot less stressful since people can learn how much your services cost upfront without having to ask you. Further, if you have a fee structure that seems simple to a website visitor, it’s a plus. That’s why you should always describe your fees in a way that non-financial people will understand. Don’t include jargon and use clear, simple language. The upside? Those who contact you will likely be higher-quality leads since they will have already have had a chance to review your fee structure. If your fees are far above what they’re willing to pay, or if they don’t meet your minimum requirements, they won’t waste your time or theirs.
Of course, I realize that not all firms feel comfortable posting complete fee schedules. If your firm is one of them, you’re not alone. Fortunately, there is a middle ground between full disclosure and nothing. You can still talk about your fees without posting every detail. For example, you can tell website visitors how your fees are structured, but let them know you’ll give them a written quote before any work starts. Then provide anything that can help people understand what to expect: how the fee works (i.e. fee based on assets under management, subscription, flat fee, hourly, etc.). While it’s ideal to simply post all of your fees, doing this at least decreases the unknown in the mind of the website visitor. Then, use that opportunity to play up the most consumer-friendly aspects of your fees and business model. For example:
- If you’re fee-only, talk about that structure and the benefits to the consumer. While it’s easy to think that “everyone” knows what fee-only means, many consumers don’t….so leaving that out could mean a missed opportunity to build trust.
- If you are independent and use only low-cost funds and ETFs, point that out and explain its significance.
- If you charge based on assets under management, describe that fee structure. If possible, tell people they will never get an hourly bill from you or an invoice for extra charges. That’s something all of us can appreciate from a professional firm.
- If you don’t require a fixed contract term, explain how there’s no ongoing commitment, and they can easily cancel if they are not happy.
Here are some additional tips for handling fees on your website:
- Ideally, practice full disclosure of fees and any minimums you require. That way, a website visitor can see exactly how much your services cost. This can help ensure that people who do contact you are qualified leads.
- If you’re not ready for full disclosure, then be as consumer-friendly as possible. Describe as much as you can about how the fees work, and explain that you will always provide a firm quote in writing before any work begins.
- If you can tell someone that they’ll never get a surprise bill or extra fee, that’s a plus.
- Most firms fully support clients with phone calls and emails. I like to call that Unlimited Support. Most advisors just assume all clients know that is included, but don’t assume anything. You are happy to talk to your clients, so why not play that up on your website?
- Take time to explain how your fees work. Surveys show that many people don’t even know exactly how much they pay. By being upfront about that, you appear easy to work with.
- If you are a fiduciary advisor, play that up, as well. As those of us in the industry know, that’s a very significant benefit, but few non-financial people understand it. Don’t worry about repeating it. People need to hear it.
Using these strategies, even if you don’t choose to fully disclose your fee schedule, you can easily fill up a website page by addressing your fees in a way that doesn’t turn clients off.
In today’s consumer-driven world, it’s smart to give consumers what they want. And they want to know how much your services will cost.
Wavelength Financial Content is a specialized provider of financial content including user-friendly financial copywriting. Our expert staff have helped many financial advisors and other financial professionals differentiate their firms and generate more leads and traffic online. Our compliance-savvy team includes staff who have passed the Series 65 and are also former holders of Series 24, 7 and 63 licenses.