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How (not) to pay for advice: A framework for consumer financial protection

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  • Inderst, Roman
  • Ottaviani, Marco

Abstract

This paper investigates the determinants of the compensation structure for brokers who advise customers regarding the suitability of financial products. Our model explains why brokers are commonly compensated indirectly through contingent commissions paid by product providers, even though this compensation structure could lead to biased advice. When customers are wary of the adviser's incentives, contingent commissions can be an effective incentive tool to induce the adviser to learn which specialized product is most suitable for the specific needs of customers. If, instead, customers naively believe they receive unbiased advice, high product prices and correspondingly high commissions become a tool of exploitation. Policy intervention that mandates disclosure of commissions can protect naive consumers and increase welfare. However, prohibiting or capping commissions could have the unintended consequence of stifling the adviser's incentive to acquire information. More vigorous competition benefits consumers and reduces exploitation, but firms have limited incentives to educate naive customers.

Suggested Citation

  • Inderst, Roman & Ottaviani, Marco, 2012. "How (not) to pay for advice: A framework for consumer financial protection," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 105(2), pages 393-411.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jfinec:v:105:y:2012:i:2:p:393-411 DOI: 10.1016/j.jfineco.2012.01.006
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. David Bardey & Denis Gromb & David Martimort & Jérôme Pouyet, 2016. "Drugs, Showrooms and Financial Products: Competition and Regulation when Sellers Provide Expert Advice," PSE Working Papers halshs-01400841, HAL.
    2. van Ooijen, Raun & van Rooij, Maarten C.J., 2016. "Mortgage risks, debt literacy and financial advice," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 72(C), pages 201-217.
    3. Roman Inderst & Marco Ottaviani, 2013. "Sales Talk, Cancellation Terms and the Role of Consumer Protection," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, pages 1002-1026.
    4. Jennifer Brown & Dylan B. Minor, 2012. "Misconduct in Credence Good Markets," NBER Working Papers 18608, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Luigi Guiso & Eliana Viviano, 2015. "How Much Can Financial Literacy Help?," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 19(4), pages 1347-1382.
    6. Calcagno, Riccardo & Monticone, Chiara, 2015. "Financial literacy and the demand for financial advice," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 363-380.
    7. Daniel Hoechle & Stefan Ruenzi & Nic Schaub & Markus Schmid, 2017. "The Impact of Financial Advice on Trade Performance and Behavioral Biases," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, pages 871-910.
    8. Calcagno, Riccardo & Giofré, Maela & Urzì-Brancati, Maria Cesira, 2017. "To trust is good, but to control is better: How investors discipline financial advisors’ activity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, pages 287-316.
    9. Hoffmann, Florian & Inderst, Roman & Opp, Marcus, 2014. "Regulating Deferred Incentive Pay," CEPR Discussion Papers 9877, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    10. Foucart, Renaud, 2017. "Meta-Search and Market Concentration," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 15, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    11. Agarwal, Vikas & Nada, Vikram & Ray, Sugata, 2013. "Institutional investment and intermediation in the hedge fund industry," CFR Working Papers 13-03, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    12. Gill, Andrej & Heinz, Matthias & Schumacher, Heiner, 2014. "Trust, trustworthiness and selection into the financial industry," CFS Working Paper Series 458, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
    13. Shen, Chung-Hua & Lin, Shih-Jie & Tang, De-Piao & Hsiao, Yu-Jen, 2016. "The relationship between financial disputes and financial literacy," Pacific-Basin Finance Journal, Elsevier, vol. 36(C), pages 46-65.
    14. Michael Grubb, 2015. "Failing to Choose the Best Price: Theory, Evidence, and Policy," Review of Industrial Organization, Springer;The Industrial Organization Society, vol. 47(3), pages 303-340, November.
    15. Agarwal, Vikas & Lu, Yan & Ray, Sugata, 2014. "Under one roof: A study of simultaneously managed hedge funds and funds of hedge funds," CFR Working Papers 14-13, University of Cologne, Centre for Financial Research (CFR).
    16. Dietmar Fehr & Steffen Huck, 2016. "Who knows it is a game? On strategic awareness and cognitive ability," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 713-726, December.
    17. M. Debbich, 2015. "Why Financial Advice Cannot Substitute for Financial Literacy?," Working papers 534, Banque de France.
    18. Inderst, Roman, 2015. "Regulating commissions in markets with advice," International Journal of Industrial Organization, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 137-141.
    19. Fehr, Dietmar & Huck, Steffen, 2013. "Who knows It is a game? On rule understanding, strategic awareness and cognitive ability," Discussion Papers, Research Unit: Economics of Change SP II 2013-306, Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Brokers; Financial advisers; Commissions; Consumer financial protection; Disclosure;

    JEL classification:

    • D18 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Protection
    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • G24 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Investment Banking; Venture Capital; Brokerage
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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