Advisory fees are inching up for the wealthiest clients. According to research released last week in a newsletter from Cerulli Associates, many advisors to high-net-worth investors have increased their fees over the last three years.

While high-net-worth clients are extremely price sensitive, advisors have been able to make a case to clients as the economy begins coming out of the financial crisis, said Rob Testa, a senior analyst at Cerulli Associates, in an interview. 

According to Cerulli, four in 10 registered investment advisors and multi-family offices raised their fees over the past three years, as did 23% of bank trusts and private client groups.  The increases — primarily to asset-based fees and retainer fees— were modest, said Testa.

To be sure, some advisors also decreased fees. But there were fewer in this camp: just 13% of registered investment advisors, compared to the four in 10 who increased fees. Moreover, the decreases were much smaller than the increases. 

“The providers who increase fees are more likely to make adjustments in larger increments relative to providers that decrease their fees,” Cerulli says in the report. 

The research was culled from Cerulli’s annual high-net-worth provider survey covering some 200 wealth managers and advisory firms. 

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