More than two-thirds of Canadians who have financial advisors either have no idea how much they pay in annual fees for the advice they receive or believe they pay no fees at all, according to a survey conducted by Environics Research Group on behalf of Toronto-based Bridgehouse Asset Managers.

That could have significant implications for advisors when phase two of the Client Relationship Model (CRM 2) is fully implemented in two years’ time, when clients will be able to see, in dollar terms, exactly how much they are paying for their financial advice on their annual statements, says Matt Brundage, vice president of marketing at Bridgehouse Asset Managers, the retail trade name for Brandes Investment Partners & Co.

“Investors will know how much they pay in annual fees in 2016, so it’s best to start early and make sure all your clients are aware of what they’re paying in relation to what they’re getting in return,” said Brundage, speaking at the Radius Practice Management and Retirement Summit in Toronto Thursday. “You want to get out in front of it now so there’s no questions when it comes.”

According to the survey, 44% of Canadians said they don’t know or are not sure how much they pay in annual fees for the advice they receive, while 25% believed they paid nothing. The survey of 1,004 Canadians over 25 years old and with more than 25,000 in investible assets was conducted in October.

When asked how their advisor was compensated, 25% said that they did not pay their advisor either directly or indirectly, and 19% had no idea how their advisor was paid, the survey found.

“We see this as an opportunity to help advisors communicate their services for fees paid, and really increase investor awareness and knowledge of transparency around fees,” Brundage says.

Putting fees on the agenda for the next meeting with clients, if there is a question of clients not being aware or confused about fees, is a good first step: “Maybe it’s not the opening topic you’re going to address, but put it on the agenda, and make them aware of greater disclosure coming.”

The survey also found that 38% of Canadians currently working with advisors would never try managing their own portfolios, while 32% of Canadians felt confident that they could manage their own investment portfolios. This latter group tended to be more men than women, and tended to be Canadians under 35.

With CRM 2 and more fee disclosure on the horizon, it may be more important than ever to make sure investors, particularly those who believe that they may be able to manage their own investments, understand the benefit they receive from financial advice, Brundage says.