A fee-only advisor is someone who is compensated solely by the client with neither the advisor nor any related party receiving compensation that is contingent on the purchase or sale of a financial product. As a result, fee-only advisors avoid the conflicts of interest which could arise if they received compensation for the products and services they recommend. Simply put, fee-only advisors work solely for their clients and only make recommendations that are in their client’s best interests.
A fee-only approach contrasts with the typical brokerage firm compensation structure which relies on commissions and transaction-related fees. Essentially, these firms receive 3rd party compensation for selling investment and insurance related products. Recently, some firms have begun using the term “fee-based” to try to distance themselves from the conflicts inherent in a commission model. Unlike fee-only advisors who never receive commissions or 3rd party compensation of any kind, fee-based advisors continue to receive 3rd party compensation in addition to receiving some fees directly from clients.
We do not believe that either a pure commission or a hybrid compensation model is capable of delivering unbiased advice to clients. We therefore adhere to a fee-only approach and believe it is the best way to ensure that we carry out our duty of undivided loyalty to our clients. Our membership in NAPFA, the national trade organization of fee-only financial advisors, is further evidence of our commitment to the fiduciary standard of care.