NEW YORK (MainStreet) — We all know by now that high fees mean low returns. Everyone who touches your money takes a bit of it with them. Shopping for low-cost investments helps, such as index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. If you prefer active management that seeks to outperform market indices, you'll pay more. But what if you want – and need – solid financial advice? How do you know if your financial advisor is charging a fair fee?

It seems that if you don't complain, your fees will keep creeping higher.

Teresa Riccobuono is a financial practice management consultant based in the San Francisco Bay area. She's been a consultant to the financial planning industry for 16 years and tells advisors that if clients aren't complaining, you're not charging enough.

"If no one complains about your prices, they are too low," Riccobuono says in an opinion piece for Advisor Perspectives. "If almost everyone complains about your prices, they are too high. Resistance of 15-20% is about right. If resistance begins to creep up to 25%, start scaling back."

Riccobuono says some advisors offer financial planning for a flat fee, with every client paying the same amount. Instead, she encourages advisors to offer a range of fees based on the complexity of a client's financial situation – but not on the difficulty of solving them.

"Don't confuse your worth with how easy something is for you. This is a common mistake," Riccobuono tells advisors. "If you have been in the financial planning business for a while, you are likely able to assess a prospect's situation in the initial meeting and develop a fairly good plan for them on the spot. Just because something is easy for you does not mean there is a low monetary value to it. The fees you charge need not be equal, but they should be fair."

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet