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First Meeting Mistake 5: Fluffing The Fee Discussion

If you have done the questioning, listening and dangling well, it is a simple next step to say…”and to do all of this will cost £xxx for the initial planning work.” It is a logical next step when you’ve done a great first meeting. It won’t come as a shock to the client. It will be expected.

I recommend telling the client what the fee is. Just say it, then and there, at the end of the first meeting. I know some advisers prefer to write to the client after the meeting, and if that is your very strong preference then go for it, but it creates an extra job and adds time to the process for little or no extra value in my view.

I realise on more complex or unusual jobs you might need time to think about your pricing, and in that situation a post meeting letter or email makes sense. For regular jobs though, simply tell the client the initial fee, the implementation fee (if they choose to take that step with you), and the ongoing fee (should they want a longer term relationship). However, ensure that the client understands they are only being asked to engage you for the initial planning work (and fee) for now.

Some advisers have a ready-made fee template they fill in on the spot and hand to the client at the end of the first meeting which confirms in writing their costs. This is a great idea.

If you still believe that writing to the client post-meeting is the right way for you to communicate your fee structure then so be it, but do check in with yourself. Perhaps you have defaulted to this option because you are too scared to tell the client face to face what you charge at the end of the first meeting? It’s possible, and if this is something you do, you are certainly not alone.

If you are altering your charging structure, practice pitching your fees to your spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, work colleague, dog, cat, or a friend. Make sure that you can explain it clearly and simply (if the dog can understand it you are on the right track). A common issue when explaining fees is to over complicate by trying to cover all the variations that may arise. Keep it simple.

For example: “We charge in three places for each phase of the work. There is a planning fee of £xxx for doing the initial work we’ve discussed today. If you elect to engage us for the implementation phase there will be an implementation fee of x%. And it you want to move onto our ongoing review service there will be a fee of x% pa.”

If a client does ask you a question about your fees, think of it as a hand to dance rather than a push back against the cost. Often clients are asking simply because they want to work with you and need to be clear on what they will pay, and what they will get in return.

By Brett Davidson

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