In the 1970s the term fee-only was coined by a few advisors in the country who had established consulting firms that received no commissions for any recommendations they made. In the early 1980s, the concept of fee-only financial planning grew rapidly, and during those years insurance companies and brokerage firms decided to coin their commission-based compensation as "fee-based financial planning." Since those early years, the financial industry has grown and matured, but those two terms are still used today.
Fee-based financial advisory firms, which include most stock brokerage firms and insurance agencies, may charge a fee for some hourly consulting work, but they earn the bulk of their income by selling financial products.
Comprehensive, fee-only financial consulting firms like ours only receive fees paid directly by our clients. We receive no other compensation from any other type of company. Fee-only financial consulting firms like ours are independent and strive to always do what is best for our clients, and act as fiduciaries for our clients.
There are excellent firms that operate on both sides of the fence, but we chose in 1973 to be fee-only. We think it is important for every client to know all of the different levels and forms of compensation that the advisors they work with can receive. Complete disclosure of all forms of compensation is important to maintain a solid and growing relationship.