The DOL fiduciary rule will accelerate what has been happening in the financial advisory business for several years: the gradual transition of firms from commission-based to fee-based operations, says John Anderson, head of practice management solutions for SEI Advisor Network.
Instead of being looked upon as a substantial burden, the new fiduciary rule should be seen by advisors who deal with retirement plans as a push to get them to convert to fee-based pricing, Anderson said in a webinar on Monday.
Anderson, for instance, objects to the terms "fee-based" and "commission-based" because those describe how an advisor is paid, not what he or she does. Advisors should instead tell clients they are switching to an "advice-based" practice, Anderson said, because he feels it's a more accurate presentation of what advisors are doing.
Advisors can begin taking steps to meet the January 2018 deadline for complying with the rule's mandate that advisors act in their clients' best interest, he said.
One of the first things to do, he said, is to assess clients in terms of how active they want to be in the investment decision-making. This will likely range from clients who want to "outsource" all the decision-making to the advisor to analytical types who want to be actively involved.
“Segment your business into those clients who want to outsource their money management, those who want to partially outsource and those who are more analytical,” he says.
Begin explaining the process of switching to fee-based pricing for advice to those who place all the decision-making responsibility in the hands of the advisor, he said, adding that explaining the switch to this group should be easy.
Once you’ve honed your message, take on those who will want a little more explanation and then move on to the analytical clients, who will want detailed explanations, Anderson said.
Fee-based business brings in more revenue, he says. On average, 35 percent of a firm’s accounts are fee-based, but 50 percent of the revenue that is brought in is from fees.
Being fee-based also makes a firm easier to sell because the business is based on a steady revenue stream, not on how much product the advisor can sell in a year, he adds.