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The Real Cost of Advice: Understanding Financial Advisor Fees

Think about this – you wouldn’t agree to a plumber’s services or sign up for a gym membership without knowing the costs involved. The same should apply to understanding how financial advisors are compensated for their knowledge, advice, and services.

It’s been found that over 20% of individuals with a financial advisor are unclear about the fees they’re paying for advisory services. Ideally, it should be straightforward and fully disclosed, but unfortunately, it’s anything but. Figuring out how your financial advisor is compensated can be very confusing, and that’s if you ask the right questions and get documented responses. 

Whether you’re seeking investment management in Austin, looking for the right portfolio management approach, or simply exploring the best investment firms in the area, one question often stands front and center: how will these financial advisors be compensated for their planning, investment, and risk management services?

In this article, we’ll explore financial advisor compensation methods so you are more informed about your choices. 

Read our Comprehensive Guide to Wealth Management in Austin


Understanding Financial Advisor Fees

Financial professionals can charge several types of fees for their services. And the kind of fee can be associated with the specific service you provide. Regardless of the payment method chosen, you should clearly understand the total fee amount that compensates the advisor, the potential for layers of fees, and the services you can anticipate in return.

We will focus on the following types of fee structures that are used most frequently by financial advisors:

  • Fee-only
  • Commission Only
  • Fee-Based or Hybrid
  • Additional Investment-Related Fees

It’s important to recognize that no single financial advisor compensation method is necessarily the best for you. While advisors may have a preferred payment method to stand out from competitors, each approach has benefits and drawbacks.



A fee-only investment advisor in Austin provides financial guidance and services to clients in exchange for a fully disclosed fee. As the name implies, a fee is the only compensation paid to the financial advisors. In other words, the fee-only advisor does not receive any commission or compensation from a third party.

This compensation structure is designed to minimize potential conflicts of interest so advisors can do what is best for their clients.

  • Fee-only advisors provide transparency when they deduct their fee from a designated client account. When you see it documented on your statement, there is never a question about the amount of the advisor’s fee.
  • With no financial incentives tied to the sale of specific investment products, fee-only advisors can provide unbiased recommendations tailored to your specific requirements and goals.
  • Financial advisors are fiduciaries when they provide advice for a fee. This means they are legally bound to always act in your best interest.

There are different ways that a fee-only advisor can charge a fee for their knowledge, advice, and services:

A fee for Assets Under Management (AUM) is a frequent method based on a percentage of the total assets they manage for you. For example, let’s say that an Austin portfolio management firm manages $1,000,000 of your money, and their fee is 1% per year ($10,000). This fee is typically billed quarterly.

Some Austin investment advisors will charge a flat fee for services like developing a financial plan. This could be worth exploring if you do not need investment management services from the advisor. 

You can also pay an Austin financial advisor, like a CPA or an attorney, for their time, with an hourly fee for their time and services. Hourly fees can vary depending on the complexity of your needs and the advisor’s availability. 

Beck Insights: As fiduciary advisors, we must clearly outline our AUM fee structure with a description of the services we provide our clients. As an example, here is our Form ADV Part 2A. We provide this at the start of the client relationship and update it routinely. 


Commission Compensation

Commission-based financial advisors are professionals a third party pays to sell their products to you. For example, they are paid by mutual fund families or insurance companies. Instead of charging fees for their advisory services, they receive commissions from these financial companies. 

There is the potential for conflicts of interest when companies that sponsor lower-quality products may pay higher commissions. 

Commission advisors may work for brokerage firms, insurance agencies, or other financial institutions.

It’s important to note that these commissions, like those paid by you, can increase the cost of the product, which means you are paying the commission in the long run. These fees are often embedded in the product’s cost and can reduce your net returns. Additionally, some commissions can impact your net proceeds when you want to sell the product and reinvest elsewhere.


Fee-Based/Hybrid Model

A financial planner who operates on a fee-based model can receive payments directly from clients through asset-based or fixed fees but may also earn commissions for selling investment and insurance products. This dual revenue stream could create a potential conflict of interest when an advisor recommends the product mix that benefits them the most. 

It’s important to inquire whether your financial planner is a registered representative associated with a Broker Dealer and to fully understand their compensation requirements when providing you advice and guidance. 


Additional Investment-Related Fees

In addition to fees or commissions paid to your financial advisor, it’s important to understand the additional fees you may encounter associated with managing your investments. 

Custodial Fees

Custodial fees are charges you incur for the safekeeping and administration of your investment assets. 

The calculation of custodial fees varies by provider, but it often involves a combination of flat and asset-based fees. Flat fees are fixed charges for basic custody services, such as account maintenance and reporting. Asset-based fees are calculated as a percentage of the total value of the assets under custody.

Money Manager Fees

It’s important to understand that money manager fees are separate from financial advisor fees.

Unlike financial advisor fees, money manager fees encompass charges associated with the professional management of investment portfolios. These fees are directly linked to the management of your assets and are typically structured as a percentage of your total investment value. 

Money managers are responsible for making investment decisions on your behalf to offset their expenses with improved rates of return – as long as they are consistent with your tolerance for risk and goals.


How Beck Capital Management Charges Fees

We believe in being straightforward and transparent with our fees. BCM doesn’t rely on third-party money managers like many wealth management firms. Using third-party money managers can lead to additional fees and potential conflicts of interest. 

By managing your assets in-house, we can reduce your fees and risk of conflicting advice.

Your financial prosperity is our mission at Beck Capital Management, and we do this by charging a single investment management fee.

When we manage your assets, you can be as involved in the investment decision-making as you want. Plus, you can count on our Austin investment advisors to keep you fully informed about your investments, expenses, and results.

We believe in transparency, providing all the information you need to feel confident about our services and compensation. Connect with us to learn more about BCM’s Austin-based portfolio management services


This material is for general information and educational purposes only. Information is based on data gathered from what we believe are reliable sources. It is not guaranteed as to accuracy, does not purport to be complete and is not intended to be used as a primary basis for investment decisions. It should also not be construed as advice meeting the particular investment needs of any investor.



Connect with us to learn more about our in-house investment research and management process.