Advice: Fee or free?

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Cameron Howlett started giving away advice for ask an expert week about three or four years ago.

He realised that there were a lot of consumers out there that had financial issues and needed advice but couldn’t bare the concept of walking into a financial planning office or even talking about their finances.

“It gives them access to good quality financial planners. To people who know what they’re talking about rather than family or people that surely shouldn’t help people manage their finances,” he said about the campaign.

But Howlett takes his generosity to the next level and provides free consultations in his office from time to time.

“Someone comes in and I look at their situation…and I can’t justify charging them a lot of money.”

“I know what I do helps people because I can see it. We model out what is important to each client…when you go through that process with people you’ll see what we are doing is helping them. There is value in advice.”

His service is based on an upfront fee for service, then an on-going fee for service - dollar-based fee calculated at an hourly rate - and he holds this as the main reason why he’s never been busier.

He said people were searching online for Fee For Service financial advice practises – which he has been for a number of years.

“The first thing they tell me is that they wanted a financial adviser and tried it but something’s wrong with it; the offices are trashy, it’s not in their best interests…predominantly from how advisers are charging clients.”

He said it was unfortunate that it took government regulation to achieve the right fee model.

  • John on 18/01/2013 10:09:28 AM

    I'm glad Cameron sees himself as working for his clients. everyone else sees him as an AXA products salesman. Who's the boss?

  • Let's get real on 18/01/2013 10:13:12 AM

    The best way for the public to value advice is for us to continue to give it away for free? Somehow I disagree. Can't justify charging them a large fee after looking at their situation....perhaps let them know this and they can walk away. If you can demonstrate the value as described then why would you give away free advice....unless you are a charity which is totally acceptable. Sick of the amount of people (a bit like yesterday's post) that have the 'only way of doing business' yet when the surface is actually scratched there is a few holes in the logic. WP I think you may just be antagonizing us.

  • Cameron Howlett on 18/01/2013 10:31:43 AM

    I just wanted to add a couple of notes to this. Firstly, I charge a fee for service upfront to my clients and secondly a fee for service on an ongoing basis - which is a dollar based fee (calculated as an hourly rate) and not an asset based fee. John, good point re dealer group arrangements - this is why I have most recently established my own license, which we are transitioning into very shortly.

    Enjoy your day everyone.

  • david m on 18/01/2013 12:59:22 PM

    I always tell consumers to read the person's FSG. AS long and as boring as it is, it tells all. Cameron, sounds like you have the right idea as far as fee for service..only the concept of giving it away for free goes againt this ? John accuses you of being an AXA product flogger..and your FSG reads like any other AXA agent.

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