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.