New Orleans (Oct. 1, 2002) -- Client demand for more services for the same price, rising overhead costs, and time spent on infrastructure are dragging down profits for financial planning firms, a new study has found.

Overhead for the average firm grew to 44.1 percent in 2001, up from 38.5 percent in revenue in 1999, according to the Financial Performance Study of Financial Advisory Practices, conducted for the Financial Planning Association by CPA firm Moss-Adams. The increase was attributed higher costs across the board, particularly salaries. The survey also found that advisors appear to be providing more services for the same fees.

"Most (financial planners) are so consumed with their practices that they're spending less time with clients and more time on infrastructure issues," said Moss-Adams' Mark Tibergien. "Time becomes a real handicap."

Tibergien also warned against the common practice of tying pricing to assets under management. He said this strategy is flawed because planners add value through the impact they have on their clients' total financial lives, which can't be measured in terms of portfolio growth.

-- Melissa Klein & Tracey Miller-Segarra

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