For financial advisors, time is slipping away for their clients and for their businesses.
Clients are aging and may require more time from advisors, but there are only so many hours in a day. Advisors are already busy, and now they need to spend even more time with clients who may not understand their investments as quickly as they used to.
How to do what is best for these clients during a regular work day and how to charge them for the extra services provided are two of the problems facing the modern day advisor.
“We are seeing the number of meetings and the length of time for meetings growing for some clients,” says Andrew Crowell, vice chairman of the individual investor group at D.A. Davidson & Co. based in Great Falls, Mont. “The follow through and tracking of action to be taken requires extra time, too.”
“The number of clients with dementia problems, which can complicate financial planning, is only a trickle now,” says Steve Starnes, senior financial advisor for Grand Wealth Management in Grand Rapids, Mich. “But I feel there is a real cliff coming as advisors get older, and at the same time, baby boomer clients will need more help.”
Many advisors who charge a set fee or a percentage of assets under management say their overall charges reflect the extra time that some clients need, but they do not charge extra. They consider it part of the holistic planning process.
“We do not adjust the fee schedule for that extra time. Even without any cognitive decline in clients, things can come up that take extra time. Only if we start adding more services, such as bill paying, do we charge extra,” says Leslie Thompson, managing principal of Spectrum Management Group in Indianapolis, Ind.
“It is important to be clear in advance about whatever the fees are going to be and how they are determined. Document everything. Regulators just want to make sure vulnerable clients are not taken advantage of,” says Canon Hickman, a wealth manager with Equity Concepts LLC in Henrico, Va.
Others add a fee for the extra time.
Jeanne Smith, president of Marca Life Planning in Birmingham, Ala., a member of the SEI Advisor Network, sometimes raises her fee from 1 percent of assets under management to 1.5 percent when additional time is required and also charges for bundled services or unbundled services. A former geriatric nurse practitioner, Smith is sensitive to the problems of aging.