I recently attended an NRS Compliance Conference in California and, as we like to do at AdvicePay, we brought some pretty cool t-shirts to give away. While I expected the “all you need is love and a good financial planner” t-shirt to be a popular choice, I was blown away by the popularity of the “bad a$$ financial planner” shirts. We ran out of them in record time and received requests for special-edition “bad a$$ compliance officer” tees. As we talk through what makes AdvicePay compliant in this post, just remember - compliance is bad-a$$!
COMPLIANCE MATTERS -- SO DO YOUR CLIENTS!
At AdvicePay, we understand that compliance is a top priority for advisors. We also understand that most financial planners were not drawn to the financial services industry because of compliance. Rather, it is a necessary aspect of the work you do in order to best serve your clients. AdvicePay was built specifically for financial planners as a compliant billing solution when implementing the fee-for-service model. When using AdvicePay, you can trust that you have a compliant billing solution, allowing you to spend more time serving your clients and less time on the complexities around billing.
Built Specifically for Financial Planners
One of the major differences between AdvicePay and other payment processors is that we are designed specifically for financial advisors! We designed our platform to take into account all the compliance regulations specific to working with and billing clients in this industry. By designing and targeting our compliance solutions to financial advisors, we have made a product that fits your needs and solves your payment problems today, while continuously improving and responding to specific regulator requests in the future. You can be sure AdvicePay will continue to be a compliant billing solution as it keeps up with changing regulations.
Two Major Compliance Features
AdvicePay is designed to uniquely serve you and your clients through two major compliance features:
- AdvicePay Avoids Custody
- AdvicePay Quickly Responds to Requests from Regulators
#1: AdvicePay Avoids Custody
Custody, at its core, means a financial planner has too much control over a client’s account and can withdraw client funds without their permission. Once you trigger custody, you are subject substantial, additional compliance oversight requirements, including the obligation to arrange for annual “surprise” audits at your own expense, typically costing $10,000 or more per audit. These additional requirements are time-consuming and expensive - not to mention, a big headache and distraction!
This makes avoiding custody is a top priority for most advisors. Our software is designed from the ground up to avoid custody, which includes the following features:
- Advisors cannot view any client bank account or credit card information
- Advisors cannot bill clients without client permission
- Advisors cannot withdraw client funds without client approval
- Advisors cannot make any payment or billing changes without client approval
By making sure client approval is always required, there is no confusion about whether you have too much control over the account. Our system also notifies clients prior to money being deducted from their account, which helps avoid the inadvertent custody rules released by the SEC.
These unique features demonstrate why using a payment processor built specifically for financial advisors is such an advantage.
#2: AdvicePay Quickly Responds to Requests from Regulators
As regulators request certain features, AdvicePay will prioritize them as we continue to improve our tool and ensure it is compliant. As we focus on the unique needs of this industry, we can quickly respond and adapt to changes and requests from regulators without any competing interests outside the industry.
To provide an example, one major concern regulators have is that an ongoing fee-for-service relationship might turn into a gym membership model - easy to sign up for and impossible to cancel. You’ve likely experienced this type of subscription service before when a business had your information and continued to charge you without a simple or clear way to cancel!
Several different state regulators asked that clients be able to cancel subscription payments without contacting their advisor, so the client has more control over their payments to the advisor. As a direct result, we added a feature to allow clients to log in and cancel their subscriptions at any time.
As regulators continue to request additional features and reporting functionality to satisfy their rules and regulations, we will prioritize them in future releases.
Let AdvicePay Enhance Your Business
We designed AdvicePay from the ground up to solve the complex billing issues financial advisors face. We understand that your focus should be on marketing your services, growing your practice, and serving your clients, not wondering whether your payment processor is compliant. With AdvicePay, you can be sure you are using a compliant billing solution that is designed specifically for you!
Posted by Lucy Robeson, CFP®
Lucy is excited to help AdvicePay users make the most of our platform to help expand their businesses. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and has extensive experience in comprehensive financial planning, directing firm operations, and (unrelated) swimming with bull sharks while living in Fiji. Lucy is passionate about promoting the fee-for-service business model and helping financial planners understand how and why to adopt it into their businesses. When she’s not working, you can find Lucy on the tennis court, hiking in the mountains, and cheering on the Virginia Tech Hokies.