Fintech Marketing

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Advertising Insights; Ellevest

Ellevest uses a variety of marketing methods and depends on its award-winning creative staff to develop advertising and marketing materials, rather than outsourcing that function to a traditional advertising agency. No information on Ellevests's marketing budget was available.

Ellevest's Variety of Marketing Methods

  • The company "reaches its target audience through a variety of methods", extending its messages as far as possible.
  • Ellevest is active on social media channels. It has over 100,000 followers on Facebook and Twitter, and more than 115,000 followers on Instagram. Thus, Ellevest can get its message out to over 200,000 people regularly, just by using free social media channels.
  • Ellevest staff also markets the company using media appearances and merchandise. In 2017, the company marketed a reusable coffee mug that ridiculed "financial investors who say people should stop buying coffee and invest those $3 to $5 to achieve financial wellness." Ellevest co-founder Sallie Krawcheck appeared on the Daily Show.
  • Ellevest has a blog written by Krawcheck that publishes new content frequently.
  • In its five-year history, Ellevest has run only one display ad campaign. The ad campaign criticized President Trump and advised women to "Cover your a$$", using bus shelters and phone booths in New York as media.
  • Ellevest ran an online ad featuring celebrity women who are clients. Venus Williams was one of the women in Ellevest's online ads.
  • "The firm has also produced a number of short interviews with some of its highest profile clients, such as Sonja Perkins and Venus Williams. These videos focus less on the specifics of investment and financial planning, instead choosing to speak to the value of women controlling their own destinies." One ad asked, "Venus Williams, What does #investlikeaboss mean to you?"
  • Ellevest promoted two hashtags through its Twitter feed in 2017: #investlikeaboss and #financialfeminist." The short interview video series was the vehicle for promoting these hashtags.
  • Ellevest uses affiliate marketing to reach investors and prospects.
  • In addition, Ellevest spends a large portion of its marketing budget on content marketing vehicles that appear online including methods like email newsletters, podcasts, and other "Free Helpful Stuff," according to

Ellevest's Award-Winning Creative Work

  • Ellevest won the 2019 Consumer Retail Single Ad award for the "Invest Like a Woman" ad that ran online. The award was bestowed by judges from the Financial Communications Society (FCS) as a recognition of "creative excellence in marketing communications work from financial companies...."
  • The "Invest Like a Woman," debut ad was created by Revere Edelman advertising agency, Ellevest creative team, and Mustache Agency. The ad ran on digital channels including BuzzFeed, Facebook and Instagram in 2017.
  • Ellevest staff won awards for Website Features and Design and Website Best Practices in 2017.
  • Ellevest has a Creative Executive Officer (CXO), Melissa Cullins, who oversees the in-house design work for the company. It appears that the company does not have an ongoing relationship with a traditional advertising agency.
Research Strategy

We could not find any direct information on the amount of money or percent of annual expenses that Ellevest spends on advertising and marketing. We checked industry sources including Adweek, Adfreak, Kiplinger, Advertising Age, Business Insider, Forbes, TechCrunch, and Tearsheet. These sources often mentioned Ellevest's two successful ads but did not provide any data on the cost of the campaigns.
Next, we pored over the Ellevest website,,, and the Revere Edelman website looking for clues about length of ad campaigns, categories of annual expenses, etc. We looked for information on digital media ad costs, e.g., Google AdSense,, but there was nothing.
Third, we looked for industry information services, e.g.,,, where there might be information behind the paywalls, but that was not available to us.
Fourth, we searched for an annual report, but there was no annual report available, since the company is privately held.
Fifth, we read about a dozen published interviews with co-founder and CEO Sallie Krawcheck, in case she mentioned the advertising budget, but she did not. We read an interview by the Creative Executive Office, Melissa Cullins, but she did not reveal information about the size of her budget either.

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Advertising Insights; Betterment

Betterment's annual advertising and marketing budget is estimated to be under $100 million, rarely includes TV ads, results in a cost of $300 per new client, and includes affiliate marketing as a tactic. The most current information available on Betterment's advertising and marketing outlays dates from July 2019.

Betterment's Advertising Budget Under $100 Million Annually

  • Betterment Holdings Inc. spent under $100 million on digital advertising in 2018, according to MediaRadar. No budget was found for broadcast advertising by the company.
  • Betterment buys premium ad units. The company purchased advertising on 250+ different digital Media Properties in 2018 using multiple Media formats, according to MediaRadar.
  • Betterment spent $82,200 per week on Google in 2018.
  • Betterment spends its advertising budget mainly on investment sites, news sites and specific websites related to investing, according to AdBeat. The top 5 sites on which Betterment purchased display ads in 2018 were, adspend $5k;, adspend $4.1K;, adspend $4K;, adspend $3.3k, adspend $3.2K.

Betterment's Entry into TV Advertising

  • In 2019, Betterment "launched a national ad campaign headlined by TV spots featuring Maggie Siff, actress on the hit Showtime series Billions, that aired in prominent spots during the U.S. Open tennis championship." There was no published information on the advertising cost of this campaign. It seems to have been the first time that Betterment used TV ads.

Betterment's Cost Per New Account

  • In 2018, Betterment was spending about $300 in advertising and marketing for each new individual who opened an account, according to one analyst. That amount was perceived to be too high to be sustained.

Betterment's Affiliate Marketing Tactic

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Advertising Insights; Wealthfront

Wealthfront is a company that prides itself on spending very little on customer acquisition, thanks to a marketing strategy based on referrals and word of mouth. However, some sources outside the company dispute these claims as some of the referrals are paid and represent additional costs.

About Wealthfront

Advertising-Related expenses

  • According to Jamie Wickham during the IMAP Fintech 2018 Conference, managing director at investment research company Morningstar Australasia, Wealthfront has spent nearly $200 million on marketing expenses alone.

Customer Acquisition Cost

  • Wealthfront customer acquisition cost is up for debate, with various sources quoting various amounts, when the company itself admits spending very little.
  • Jamie Wickam claims that companies such as Wealthfront spend close to $1,000 on marketing to acquire a customer.
  • Other sources evaluate this cost to be between $5 to $300 for each customer for startups.
  • According to Wealthfront CEO Andy Rachleff, the company does not have an important spend in marketing for client acquisition thanks to the success of their referral program and word of mouth.
  • Andy Rachleff claimed in an interview that the company did not run ads and relied on recommendations.
  • The aim is for Wealthfront to reduce their marketing budget and spend on customer acquisition.
  • A company spokesperson admitted that only 10% of new clients were acquired through a paid channel, at a cost not exceeding $200 for each new client.

Ad Spend

  • According to Adbeat estimates, Wealthfront has spent around $693,632 over 6 months in 2015 on Ad Spend and Ad Networks.
  • The company has used major news sites, business websites as well as general websites to run Native Ads.
  • These include CNN, Fox Business and
  • In 2017-2018, Wealthfront reduced their spending on paid search ads to a monthly estimate of $6,000.

Affiliate Marketing

  • In 2014-2015, the company paid $97,000 to bloggers that referred new clients to Wealthfront through a link in their blogs.
  • As a result, Wealthfront managed to attract tens of millions of dollars of new assets under management.
  • However, the SEC judged that Wealthfront failed to fully disclose publicly that the referrals were remunerated.
  • The matter was settled without any denial from Wealthfront.

Other Insights

  • After its founding in 2011, Wealthfront hired a vice-president of Marketing in 2017 and a head of content marketing in 2018.
  • The vice-president hired was a Twitter and YouTube employee previously and was tasked with redesigning Wealthfront's website.
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Advertising Insights; Aspiration

Due to limited data surrounding Aspiration's advertising-related spending, only insights on the company's TV ad spend have been provided. Aspiration spent about $12.7 million on three television ads in the first half of 2019, bringing the average spend per ad to about $4.23 million. Below is an overview of the findings, an explanation of the research strategy, as well as some useful insights on the company's marketing strategies, including the messaging/theme.

TV Advertising Spend

  • According to a report by Kantar U.S., Aspiration is one of two neo-banks that are investing significantly on traditional advertising, especially television. Aspiration devoted about $12.7 million to television ads in the first half of 2019 while its counterpart, Chime, spent about $13.8 million in the same period.
  • Based on, Aspiration's YouTube page, and TV Commercial Ad, Aspiration launched and ran three television commercials in the first half of 2019: "Save Money Save The Planet," Track Your Impact" and "The Secret Life of a Dollar." Being that the company spent $12.7 million in television ads, then the approximate average spend would be about $4.23 million.

Additional Insights

  • While Aspiration almost matched Chime's spending on TV commercials in the first half of 2019, it could not compare when it came to paid search performance. Other neo-banks such as SoFi, Marcus, Simple, and Chime were among the top-ten paid search checking & savings, according to Kantar. Notably,
  • A listing on Backstage, a site for recruiting creative talent, that identified Bokeh Inc. as the agency responsible for a TV commercial that was shot for Aspiration in November 2018.
  • Aspiration's television ads emphasize its theme of "socially responsible banking" in a bid to differentiate itself from traditional banks who, the commercials imply, may not have the "social conscience that Aspiration prospects want to see in their financial institution."
  • Aspiration's values-based advertising fouls incumbents in the banking industry by emphasizing its lower fees and social mission. Unlike other startups such as SoFi and Transferwise that softened their marketing stances in 2018, Aspiration shows no sign of relenting. It continues its provocative campaigns with hashtags such as #breakupwithBofA.


To provide 3-5 insights on Aspiration's advertising-related spending, the research team began by searching through the company's website and communication portals. While the company's blog and press release pages several reports on the company's marketing campaigns and strategies, there was nothing specific to the financial aspect of their marketing activities. Aspiration is a privately-owned company and is, therefore, not obligated to provide its financial reports.

Next, we searched through third-party resources such as marketing news/analytics sites including Adage and Adweek as well as media resources including Forbes and USA Today. We also explored market reports by consultancy firms such as Kantar. Adage only provided the profile of a popular upcoming actress featured in Aspiration's TV commercial. Most resources focused on Aspiration's values-based advertising but we managed to find articles and reports that provided the company's TV ad spend in the first quarter of 2019. We then identified the commercials that were released from January through June to determine the costs per advert. We verified that the commercials were released within that time frame by exploring Aspiration's YouTube page as well as commercial-focused resources such as Abancommercials and TV Commercial Ad. There was nothing on Aspiration's OOH and digital advertising spend.

Next, we decided to take another approach and instead focused on identifying the advertising agencies or agencies of record that the company might have hired in the past. The research team hoped that the agencies could provide insights on the company's budget. Identifying the agencies would also enable us to conduct a more focused/targeted search. We found a listing on Backstage, a site for recruiting creative talent, that identified Bokeh Inc. as the agency responsible for a TV commercial that was shot for Aspiration in November 2018. We explored Bokeh's website and case studies/portfolio but there was nothing on their work with Aspiration. There were no media reports on any partnerships between Bokeh and Aspiration.

Due to limited data surrounding Aspiration's advertising-related spending, we have managed to provide only one insight on the company's TV ad spend. We have also provided useful information on the company's marketing strategies, including messaging/theme. We have also provided some industry-wide data.
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Trends; US Fintech Industry

Content marketing, Millennial-oriented campaigns and video advertising are three current trends in marketing in the US fintech industry.

Content Marketing

  • Content marketing was identified as a top trend in US fintech advertising given that it was highlighted as a trend by a preponderance of credible experts, including startup ad agency Publicize, PR firm KCD PR and financial payments company SecurionPay.
  • Notably, a challenge for any new entrant into the crowded and quickly evolving fintech industry is to establish oneself as a legitimate player.
  • According to a recent survey of seven fintech marketing experts, the "consensus opinion" for building this legitimacy is through content marketing.
  • In particular, a growing number of fintechs in the US are publishing thought leadership content such as blog posts or industry reports, that provide analyses of key events, issues or trends in the fintech industry.
  • Accenture’s Banking Blog and Cisco’s Financial Services blog are both examples of how leading players are embracing this trend by publishing breaking industry insights as well as advice on technology and growth opportunities in fintech.
  • Meanwhile, this trend has helped to significantly improve the brand awareness and lead generation of many industry players, and has created a wealth of valuable thought leadership pieces and reference materials for both fintechs and their customers.

Millennial-Oriented Campaigns

  • Advertising that is targeted at Millennials was selected as another significant trend in US fintech given that it was highlighted as an industry trend by multiple credible experts (e.g., KCD PR, SecurionPay)
  • According to these experts, Millennials have been "fueling the market" among fintech companies, particularly those organizations that provide services in payments, transfers and personal investing.
  • In particular, fintechs that are providing mobile solutions are very likely to implement a "Millennial-oriented strategy" in their advertising, given that over 85% of US Millennials own smartphones and interact with them approximately 45 times per day.
  • Ultimately, the buying power of Millennials and their interest in fintech offerings has not only led to a wide variety of marketing efforts targeted at this group, but has also generated to a growing focus on this cohort amongst financial management, lending, finance and insurance firms.
  • As such, companies including Venmo, Stripe and Upstart are targeting this younger generation with their services and advertising efforts.

Video Marketing

  • Finally, video marketing was chosen as a top trend in the US fintech industry given that multiple credible resources (e.g., KCD PR, SecurionPay) recently highlighted this as a theme across fintech advertising.
  • Video represented approximately 80% of all internet traffic in 2019, and is a "powerful marketing tool" for fintech companies, given that it allows companies to convey key messages in "less than a minute" to a highly attentive audience.
  • As such, video-based advertising is currently being executed by fintech firms across a variety of channels, including websites, social media outlets and display ads.
  • More generally, this trend is expanding the way many fintech companies are using their owned media (e.g., corporate websites, social media) as well as working with new resources.
  • Meanwhile, companies including Chase, Square, Betterment and Wealthfront have embraced video as a means to highlight the benefits of their fintech products and associated client experiences.
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Biggest Advertising Campaigns; US Fintech Industry

Some of the biggest advertising campaigns by fintech companies, based on the return on investments, were launched by WealthSimple, Starling Bank, Monzo, and Klarna.


Starling Bank



Research Strategy

To identify the biggest advertising campaigns by US fintech companies that were launched between 2018 to 2020, we first searched for publicly available and pre-compiled information through fintech news sources such as the Financial News, Finovate, The Fintech Times, Fintech Insider Community, among others. This strategy only yielded information on the leading fintech companies, trends and disruption in the US fintech industry and other irrelevant information.

Next, we searched for the most notable advertising campaigns by brands in the US to see if any of those campaigns were done by fintech companies. We searched through HubSpot, Forbes, CNBC, and other Marketing and news sources. We could not find any advertising campaigns from fintech companies in the US among the biggest advertising campaigns of all time.

We then searched for a list of the leading fintech companies in the US with significant ad spending to help us establish the biggest ad campaigns they may have launched. For this, we searched through Forbes Fintech 50, Crunchbase, BuiltIn, Investopedia, among others. While we could establish the advertising spending of some fintech companies in the US, we could not find how many customers were engaged or any information on the return on investments so there was no possible way of finding the biggest advertising campaigns.

Finally, we expanded the scope of our research to North America and finally globally to come up with the four fintech companies identified in this research. These advertising campaigns had significant returns on investments and were ranked by a credible industry source as some of the biggest fintech advertising campaigns with impressive results.

From Part 01
  • "Ellevest, an investing platform designed specifically for women, reaches its target audience through a variety of methods. First and foremost, the business found a need and used customer feedback to create a meaningful solution."
  • "Through detailed research, Ellevest found a target demographic in need of a solution. The company initially targeted women with higher incomes, but the platform works well for all women and has built a strong userbase across different demographics since its inception in 2014."
  • "Ellevest was different and developed a platform for women that catered to their lifespan and salary."
  • "Ellevest has created strong word-of-mouth recommendations by building a strong platform and being active across social channels. The company has more than 100,000 followers across Facebook and Twitter, and it holds more than 115,000 followers on Instagram alone. The business reaches well over 200,000 people routinely just through social media. "
  • "The company also generates headlines through media appearances and merchandise. Recently, the company released a reusable coffee mug poking fun at financial investors who say people should stop buying coffee and invest those $3 to $5 to achieve financial wellness. In January of this year, Krawcheck joined The Daily Show for a 10-minute segment on her business and the gender pay gap."
  • "Ellevest also creates content regularly on its blog. "
  • "Companies like Ellevest (focused on women’s financial health) and Betterment (helping retirees and millenials focus on long-term goals) are publishing ads that are pushing the envelope and delivering solid results. No matter what industry or demographic you are targeting, the tactics that many of these companies employ are highly applicable across a range of Facebook ads, Instagram ads, and Google ads."
  • "Ellevest’s ads work because the company isn’t afraid to push the envelope and be a little controversial. For example, their Trump ads were traditional in that they were large posters in kiosks and phone booths in New York, but the ads were very popular and well received by the public. [Trump ad on bus shelter]"
  • "An online campaign Ellevest ran centered on the phrase “Invest like a woman.” Ellevest used this ad campaign as a way to empower users and get them to look at investments differently. [Ad with bull figure]"
  • """
  • "These tips from Ellevest tend to be some of our most requested and pinned items on Pinterest. I hope this makes it a little easier to find. Here is a quick list of all of the Ellevest Investment Series Links to all the good articles they provide for Melanin Goddess readers. In addition, this page also links you back to all the articles on Investing, Saving, etc… No excuses to not open up an Investment Acct/Emergency Fund in 2019. If you are ready to get started, click here! Ready, Set, Go!"
  • "Ellevest helps professional women invest in ways that account for (and fight back against) financial inequality. Stash helps low-income millennials understand how money works. Wealthfront is stripping out human error and bias from the investing equation with a software-only investment approach. The most successful of these startups have made significant investments in content marketing—blogging, email newsletters, podcasts, and other varieties of Free Helpful Stuff."
  • "CONSUMER RETAILSINGLE GOLD Ellevest Financial, Inc Revere Invest Like a Woman"
  • "The Portfolio Awards competition recognizes creative excellence in marketing communications work from financial companies, with Gold, Silver and Bronze trophies awarded for Public Relations; Print & Digital Collateral; Annual Reports; Advertising in print, audio, television, out-of-home, direct mail, and multimedia; ..."
  • " Best For: Free Money To Invest Ellevest Logo Special Promotion $50 for Whyze users opening an account through our link The Bottom Line Get $50 Just For Signing Up Through Whyze Low Annual Advisory Fee No Account Minimum Easy To Use Charts & Tools Socially Responsible Funds Available"
  • "The company’s premiere spot, ‘Invest Like a Woman’ is a call to action. Thumping drums and 70s guitar chords underpin an 80 second wakeup call about the implicit male bias in the sector. The ad cuts rapidly between a diverse cast of women who are just not going to take it anymore."
  • "In addition to promoting Krawcheck’s personal story and their prestige ad-spot, Ellevest has produced a series of informative info-spots which speak to women’s aspirations and investment dynamics rather than the ‘remedial financial education’ Krawcheck encountered so often."
  • "Venus Williams, What does #investlikeaboss mean to you?"
  • "The firm has also produced a number of short interviews with some of its highest profile clients, such as Sonja Perkins and Venus Williams. These videos focus less on the specifics of investment and financial planning, instead choosing to speak to the value of women controlling their own destinies. Connected to the videos, Ellevest has also been promoting two empowering hashtags: #investlikeaboss and #financialfeminist."
  • " 2017 Nominee Ellevest Ellevest Websites Website Features and Design Best Practices"
  • " 01/04/17--05:35: How Do You 'Invest Like a Woman'? Sallie Krawcheck Shows You With Ellevest's First Ad"
  • " Much of this is outlined in "Invest Like a Woman," a debut ad created by Revere (Edelman's in-house creative agency) that launched Tuesday: "
  • "CREDITS for "Invest Like a Woman" ad. From Ellevest: Marketing - Marc Karasu, Rebecca Stern, Phoebe Assenza Design - Melissa Cullens From Revere: Account – Megan Goode, Katy Koesy, Deidre Campbell Strategy – Amanda Kleinberg, Gigi Downs Creative – Alena Cason, Kristen Kusterer, Karyn Pascoe, Chris Perry Production – Jennifer Carter-Campbell, Erin Fitzsimmons, Julie Casso – Mustache Agency"
  • "Ellevest has 80% of all engagement around wealth management on Instagram and 2.5M social followers. Melissa Cullens CXO Ellevest logo Ellevest CXO "
  • "I had the good fortune to get hired by a series of really amazing consultancies where I built up a portfolio of work that combined brand thinking, business strategy, user experience and most importantly, customer research, before deciding I’d like to explore going in-house. Charlie Kroll (cofounder, President and COO of Ellevest) found my portfolio on and was particularly interested in my work for, so we got to talking and almost five years and three titles later, here we are."
  • "Most recently, her work for the women-focused digital investment platform has been recognized by the likes of Fast Company, CNBC and Money Magazine. Here, Melissa shares how she got to where she is today and how she uses empathy to connect user behavior and emotion with innovative, modern-day design."
  • "Ellevest Encourages Women To Take Control Of Finances by <QuerySet Tanya Gazdik> Ellevest, an investment platform with algorithms designed for women’s lives, is encouraging women to take control of their financial future. A digital spot, “Invest Like A Woman,” shows women that investing should never be one-size-fits-all and 2017 can be the year where every woman starts to close her personal investment gap. The video has a call to action that aims to leave women feeling confident to invest and ready to earn financial equalities. Ellevest also launched outdoor ads on bus stops and telephone booths around New York City with a similar message. The ads have an outline of President-elect Donald Trump in the background with the text “Women of New York: Cover your a$$.” The ad itself plays on comments made by Trump during the election and challenges New York women to think about the next four years (not just finances) and what they can do to help protect themselves. The video, which was created in conjunction with Revere, a DJE Holdings company, encourages women to think about realities such as that they live longer, their salaries peak sooner, and they often have career breaks to raise children, which leads to periods of significant income variation. The spot is running on digital channels including BuzzFeed, Facebook and Instagram. It initially runs through early February but an extension is possible.This is the company’s first brand video articulating why women need an investment platform built for their goals and needs due to the gender investing gap, according to a spokesperson. The Ellevest target client is the professional woman who either has her own money or has agency over her family’s money. She is among the 75 million women in the U.S. workforce who want to take financial control and is looking for a straightforward way to achieve her dreams on her own terms. She is also comfortable with an online experience. "
From Part 02
  • "Betterment’s Ad Spend & Ad Networks Betterment is all Google: betterment-ad-spend You’ll see that Betterment also spends far less than their main competitor, Wealthfront. Adspend, Google, $82.2K OpenX, $376 Unclassified, $226 Pubmatic, $31 Sovern, $11 Pulsepoint, $5"
  • "Betterment’s Publishers Betterment follows a traditional contextual targeting strategy (choosing publishers with content relevant to their offer). Betterment advertises mostly on investment sites, news sites and specific pages related to investing on Q&A sites. Here are Betterment’s top 5 publishers:, adspend $5k, adspend $4.1K, adspend $4K, adspend $3.3k, adspend $3.2K"
  • "earlier this year Betterment launched a national ad campaign headlined by TV spots featuring Maggie Siff, actress on the hit Showtime series Billions, that aired in prominent spots during the U.S. Open tennis championship. Betterment did not comment on the cost of the campaign at the time."
  • "Betterment Advertiser Profile. Betterment is part of Betterment Holdings Inc.. They spent under $100 million on advertising in digital in the last year. They invest in premium ad units and advertised on over 250 different Media Properties in the last year across multiple Media formats. Betterment last advertised a new product in December, 2018. "
  • "Betterment clearly needs to get more bang for its marketing buck, which it estimates only yields one account per $300 of spend -- an amount that takes, on average, 10 years to recoup, according to a new Morningstar report. Betterment clearly needs to get more bang for its marketing buck, which it estimates only yields one account per $300 of spend -- an amount that takes, on average, 10 years to recoup, according to a new Morningstar report. "
  • "Betterment pays affiliate marketers even more, between $25 and $1,250 per onboarded client, according to the firm’s client agreement effective July 2019."
  • "In the digital advice arms race, the biggest independent brands have embraced what some call a questionable marketing tactic to win clients: paid bloggers. The strategy of online affiliate marketing — tapping parent companies and paid bloggers to attract prospective clients and paying for new prospects — is legal, and the industry’s leading independent players openly disclose their use of such marketers."
  • "Betterment, Wealthfront and Personal Capital all disclose they pay bloggers for referring new clients. While the bloggers are generally paid a finder’s fee for each referral, clients do not incur any additional costs, according to the disclosures."