Tips to turn your Fee Disclosure Statement into a must have marketing tool

Jenny Brown

Jenny Brown

Research recently released by Wealth Insights showed that Fee Disclosure Statements are causing advisers more angst than any other aspect of FOFA.

Around half of advisers surveyed for the 2013 Market Trends Report believe they will lose between 1 and 10% of their clients due to the need to provide an FDS to their clients.

2013 Adviser of the Year, Jenny Brown and the team at JBS Financial Strategists (PIS) use every document as an opportunity to showcase their value to clients. In this article she shares some tips to turn your Fee Disclosure Statement into a ‘must have’ marketing tool.

Having been already been a finalist in the Adviser of the Year award in 2012 gave us a unique chance to put some of the learnings into practice and set us up for a great shot at the award in 2013. In particular, last year’s judging process identified an opportunity for us to improve our client engagement.

As part of this process – and in the lead up to this year’s award which we were extremely excited to win – we conducted a review of how we engaged with our clients across all touch points to ensure we were maximising the opportunities we had at our disposal to demonstrate our value to them.

Through this process, we discovered that our required documents such as SOAs and quarterly reports, were in need of an overhaul. We had only been using them for compliance purposes and as a result, we were missing out on a great opportunity to proactively communicate messages to our clients via these documents.

One of the many documents we enhanced was our Fee Disclosure Statement (FDS), recently introduced as a requirement under FOFA legislation. This is a critical document that clients use to understand the fees that are being charged and for which services, which makes it an extremely important document and if used correctly, a ‘must have’ marketing tool for any business.

Thanks to this year’s Adviser of the Year Award process, our FDS has been acknowledged as industry best practice and I thought I’d take some time to share a few tips to help you make the most of your FDS and benefit from the results as much as we have at JBS.

Tips to turn your FDS into a ‘must have’ marketing tool

Make sure it meets requirements

First and foremost, the FDS is a legal document so make sure it ticks all the boxes in terms of meeting the compliance requirements.

Help clients understand the FDS

Clients may not be aware of the background behind the FDS and why it is required. By explaining the document and what’s in it, they will understand a bit more about the financial advice process and how fees are charged based on the service(s) provided.

Include what you’ve done for your client over the past year

Clients may not remember exactly what they have engaged you for over the course of the year. By listing the services you have provided and how the client has benefited from your advice, your clients will better understand the value you have added and for what services you are charging fees.

Include other services you could have provided your client

In some cases there was a list of services clients could have engaged us for but didn’t, so providing the list keeps these services top of mind. That way, clients will remember what we do and what we can do for them. Services may include:

  • Access to advisers
  • E-newsletters
  • Quarterly reports
  • Seminars
  • Annual strategy planning meetings
  • Insurance and claims handling; and
  • Salary packaging advice.

Refer the client back to their most recent SOA

We also ensure that on the page where we disclose our fees, we refer the client back to the most recent SOA so they can view a detailed breakdown of fees.

Presenting your FDS is critical

How you present your FDS to clients can impact how they engage your services in future. We send the FDS with an unlisted YouTube video from me, explaining what the document is and why it is being sent. I also take the opportunity to specifically mention that we have been a ‘fee-for-service’ business for over ten years and as such our relationship will not change. The video and document are sent as an email from our advice software so it looks professional. We also encourage our clients to connect with us via social media.

Making the most of the FDS

When we introduced this document, we had absolutely no push back from our clients. In fact, we had clients contact us to say they wanted to review their circumstances and potentially engage us for services they previously weren’t taking advantage of. Clearly by turning this required document into a successful marketing tool, we have started to see the benefits with our clients and you can too.

For more tips from 2013 AFA Adviser of the Year winner Jenny Brown, read her blog at

About JBS Financial Strategists

JBS Financial Strategists is a member firm of PIS and specialises in SMSF’s and Risk Insurance.

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