Why I charge for the first appointment

Honesty, integrity, fiduciary duty, Hayne Royal Commission

Here I explain why paying an initial meeting fee will likely be one of the best investments you can make.

I realise that there are many practices out there that do not charge for the first meeting whereas I have a meeting fee of $330.  This is not common practice in the financial planning industry.

Personally I believe that the initial appointment being free is an artefact of the early days of financial planning where getting advice was very much a product-driven sales process of advisers getting as many people through the door as possible to parade their wares and to convince potential clients of the benefits of what they could offer.

Being privately owned, my approach is totally independent of product. I see the first meeting as a genuine discovery of your needs. What I want to achieve in this meeting is to establish a comprehensive picture of your current financial situation and discover if you have any issues that require advice either now, or at some point in the future.

By the conclusion of this meeting I will be in a position to confirm that no further action is required at this time or alternatively that you have identified issues for which I can provide solutions. It is quite common to have times in life when no advice is needed.

Where advice is required we would then agree on the advice need (scope) and move to a client service agreement for the provision of the advice via a statement of advice (SOA).

If I confirm that there are no current issues, we would look to repeat the process at a set time in the future (12 to 24 months). Again this may confirm the absence of advice needs or we may identify the need for a SOA. If your situation was to change this would be a further trigger to meet again.

To use an analogy, if you were worried about an aspect of your health, such as a heart condition, you would visit a medical professional to investigate. The doctor would investigate and either find your heart is in good shape and no further action is needed for now (the ideal outcome) or that there are some concerning signs that they may need to investigate further and treat. Either way, any anxieties you may have had about ‘what might be wrong’ have been addressed and you have a plan to move forward.

Investigating your financial situation is comparable. The power of identifying where you are at now along with potentially identifying when decisions will need to be made is priceless when compared to the anxiety of not knowing, which is a situation I have come across often in my career.

Since you are paying for this meeting is there is no incentive for me to go to the advice stage unless you have a genuine need. Because I am neither sales nor product driven, we will only complete advice when necessary.

So to summarise, by committing to paying for the first meeting you are opening the door to being informed and less anxious, you are now connected to a solution when one is required, and free from product driven advice solutions.

I believe it will be the Best Value for Money (VFM) that you will ever receive.


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