What Is a Fee Structure?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A fee structure is a detailed disclosure of fees associated with products and services offered by an organization. Some companies are legally required to provide this information on request to current and prospective clients. In other cases, it may be offered as a convenience to allow people to compare rates, determine the cost of an activity, or plan ahead. In finance and investing, fee structures are used at locations like banks, brokerages, and financial management firms, and they are usually required by law.

If a billing dispute arises because a bill doesn’t match the fee structure, there are a number of options for resolving it.
If a billing dispute arises because a bill doesn’t match the fee structure, there are a number of options for resolving it.

Pamphlets with fee structure information should indicate when they were published to allow the reader to determine if the information is current. All fees charged in association with financial activities are disclosed; at a bank, for example, this might include monthly checking, non-network cash withdrawals, wire transfers, and loan origination. For certain kinds of financial products, the contract includes a fee structure and this information should be reviewed carefully before signing.

Financial managers and brokers need to provide fee structure information to investors.
Financial managers and brokers need to provide fee structure information to investors.

Financial managers and brokers also need to provide fee structure information. This can include a maintenance fee to keep an account open, costs associated with executing trades, and fees for reproducing documents. People may need to pay to open or close their accounts, or if their balance dips below a certain amount. Likewise, inactivity can be billable at some institutions.

Companies can periodically update their fees in response to changing market conditions like an increased cost of doing business. They may need to provide legal warning before they do so, allowing people to close or transfer accounts without penalty if they do not agree to the new fees. Any debts may need to be paid off in full in order to do so; there may be other restrictions as well, such as the need to close out accounts within a set period of time after notification to avoid the penalties.

If a billing dispute arises because a bill doesn’t match the fee structure, there are a number of options for resolving it. One choice is to negotiate directly with the company to determine if it is possible to adjust the bill. In other instances, the problem can be reported to a professional organization or regulatory agency, which can assist with the resolution process and negotiate a settlement that is acceptable to both parties. Companies that receive frequent complaints may be targeted for investigations to determine if they are advertising in misleading ways or bilking customers with fraudulent billing activities.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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