Is this the fault of advisers, overpricing their advice? Are the ignorant masses to blame, not knowing what’s good for them? The answer I think, is neither, or perhaps a bit of both and a bit of ‘the other’. The price of advice is a function of demand and supply. There are many fewer advisers (see last week’s comments) than there were a couple of decades ago, so those remaining will gravitate to the most profitable clients. And if you don’t think you have a problem, why would you pay to solve it? ‘The other’, in this case, is the internet, which can turn us all into doctors, car mechanics, plumbers, electricians; and very easily allow us to invest our money, get a mortgage and ‘move all your old pensions to one, simple, easy-to-manage plan’. All good if the symptoms go away, the car doesn’t break down again, the radiator works and the fuses don’t blow. If not, you’ll need a professional. Later or sooner, I’m afraid.
How we as advisers charge for our services has been the subject of navel-gazing debate in our profession for some time. Should we work on accountant- and solicitor-style hourly rates, charge a fixed subscription or have a menu of tasks and bill you accordingly.