Close Close

Financial Planning > Behavioral Finance

Consumers Clueless on Cost of Their Financial Products: Hearts & Wallets

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.

A new slice of the findings of a 2015 study of more than 5,000 Americans, including 1,670 with investable assets of more than $500,000, found plenty of ignorance and confusion about what they actually pay for financial products and advice.

According to the findings from Wants & Pricing: What Investors Buy & Competitive Ratings from Hearts & Wallets, 31% said they didn’t know what they paid for their financial products, and 28% said they were charged a fee by their financial “store,” which the research firm defines as “retail and defined contribution providers working directly with investors.”

According to the study, 41% say they pay their “financial store” nothing and instead pay through actual products; of those, 72% said they paid nothing for the product. In addition, only 20% of those surveyed had a “clear understanding of the incentives of their providers,” a percentage that Hearts & Wallets noted has not improved in the s years it’s conducted the study.

Laura Varas, founder and CEO of Hearts & Wallets, said in a statement that “When you add together the Americans who say they don’t know what they pay for their financial products, and the high number of people who say they pay nothing for products that they obtain through their retail financial stores, we have a major problem.” Varas said that “in the end, there’s no substitute for an informed consumer,” though she also said “the industry has a responsibility to price clearly, and should embrace price clarity enthusiastically by laying out the different choices available to consumers.” Robo-advisors, she noted, are clear on their pricing and said they are “pushing others in the marketplace to do the same.”

The study found that most consumers want greater fee and pricing clarity, with 56% of consumers saying the most important attribute of a financial partner is having clear and understandable fees. The next two attributes desired by consumers is “unbiased, puts my interests first” (54%), matched by 54% who said they value financial partners that “explain things in understandable terms.”

— Check out Gauging the Impact of Robo-Advisors on ThinkAdvisor.