What are the primary conflicts of interest in the asset-based and fee-only financial planning models?
Although it is not uncommon to read articles that refer to certain financial planning pricing models as being free from conflicts of interest, in truth the economics of all compensation models present certain unavoidable conflicts of interest.
With asset-based pricing, the financial planner has an obvious conflict to encourage clients to consolidate as much assets as possible under management and, conversely, to discourage clients from liquidating assets under management for other purposes. Our tiered pricing model effectively becomes a flat-fee pricing model once assets under management reach $5 million. The ongoing 8 basis point asset-charge represents our platform cost.
The primary conflict of interest under a fee-only/flat fee pricing model is that the financial planner has an incentive to get complete the planning agreement as expeditiously as possible with no incentive to provide ongoing guidance. Further, under the flat-fee pricing model there is no direct accountability for investment performance. Since implementation and monitoring of the recommendations is the responsibility of the client.