Advice fee transparency questioned in latest study

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Nov 21, 2019

Many leading advice firms and wealth managers still do not publish charges online, despite calls for greater transparency, new research has shown.

The Sunday Times analysed 30 top businesses in the market. The paper finds that the Brooks Macdonald, Openwork and Chase de Vere were among the advisers not to detail fees on their websites, while private banks like Coutts and Weatherbys also fail to do so.

All cited the need to have a review of complex client circumstances before laying out what services would cost.

The research also found discrepancy in the way in which fees were totalled. Some firms, for example, applied initial advice fees on each pound of new business added, whereas others did not. Others cited potential fee reductions, implementation charges or administration charges that made them incomparable with their peers.

While consumers do have the option to turn off ongoing advice fees should they only want a one-off piece of advice, the Sunday Times found this was not made clear online by any of the firms it looked at.

Lang Cat principal Mark Polson tells the paper: “It’s fine that wealth managers provide various different services to clients. What’s not fine is that this part of the industry uses this to resist price comparison. It’s also fine that some firms are more expensive than others — but to properly ascribe value, investors need to know what they’re getting and what it costs. I suspect many clients aren’t in that position.”

The paper also carries a report this weekend from accountants Grant Thornton which claims that Investec is the most expensive wealth manager in the UK.

The analysis compared the reduction in yield across the market. Investec came out at 3.8 per cent. The next most expensive was Rathbones at 3.4 per cent. Barclays Wealth, Standard Life’s advice arm 1825, and Smith and Williamson were all tied for third place with a RIY of 3.2 per cent.

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