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Practice Management > Compensation and Fees

Investors’ top priority: easy-to-understand pricing [chart]

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More than half of investors rank “clear and understandable pricing” as their number one “investor want” for investment providers. But less than 1 in 4 in understand how their primary provider earns money, according to new research.

Market researcher Hearts & Wallets discloses this finding in a survey of about 5,500 U.S. households. The report details respondents top 10 investor wants. Among these, ranked as “extremely important” and in order of priority, are the following:

1. Fees are clear and understandable (52 percent of respondents polled)

1. Has low fees (52 percent; tie)

2. Explains things in understandable terms (50 percent)

3. Is unbiased, puts my interests first (49 percent)

4. Has made me money (48 percent)

5. Has well-trained staff (46 percent)

6. Is easily reachable by telephone (44 percent)

7. Provides clear, useful statements (43 percent)

8. Understands me and shares my values (40 percent)

9. Investment ideas are knowledgeable, timely and tactical (39 percent)

10. Is proactive when market changes/when I’m losing money (38 percent)

The survey adds that Americans grew more demanding for all the top 10 investors wants in 2014. The desire for “fee clarity” edged up 4 points from 2013 to share the top spot with low fees in the annual survey.

“Investing is becoming a consumer choice,” says Hearts & Wallets Partner and Co-founder Laura Varas. “Before being able to judge whether fees are high or low, investors have to know what the fees are.

“Many financial services firms don’t make this easy,” she adds. “People have to understand the value of the purchase, just like any other buying decision. The financial services industry has a ways to go to empower choice, but there are some bright spots.”

The report observes that Americans are more fee savvy than they used to be. Only 1 in 4 (27 percent) say they “don’t know” the price paid for investment products and services, improving from 31 percent in 2013. About 4 in 10 (41 percent) of poll respondents say they pay nothing since “the firm is paid through products I own.”

Consumers ranked the two firms they do the most business with in each of the top 10 investor wants. Edward Jones ranks among the best performers in nine out of the Top 10 investor wants. USAA ranks among the best performers in 7 out of top 10 wants.

See the chart on the following page for a year-by-year comparison of the top 10 investor wants. 


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