Lobbyists do not work on a commission, percentage, bonus, contingency or success fee basis. They work on a fixed fee per task or assignment, or on a hourly rate for time spent. Some  clients engage lobbyists on a long-term on-call basis with a monthly retainer.

It is unethical to accept percentage-base compensation only. This standard is also asserted by the major PA consultancies, which have set the norms in our field. Percentage-based compensation can encourage abuses, imperils the integrity of our profession, and undermines the very values on which our independence is based.  Percentage-based payments are not in the best interest of clients, nor are they consistent with the trust that clients are expected to place in our professionalism. The payment of agreed fees to compensate our lobbying services is an appropriate way to balance a client's evaluation of risk and affordability with the lobbyist integrity and competence.

In addition to ethical issues, paying for lobbying services when performed acknowledges the value and merits of the services lobbyists provide. The fixed fee concept recognizes the value of the lobbyist's professional advice and achievements independently of client's ultimate success, which of course lobbyists cannot guarantee. As outside and independent consultants, we cannot rely on the quality and capability of a client's management, its employees, its financial strengths, value proposition etc.. aspects we have no control over. No matter how well we as lobbyists do our job, clients still have to do theirs. Lobbyists cannot wait and have their remuneration depend on a client's capability to perform. Lobbyists cannot run the risk that they financially suffer is their client's business fails.

The success fee concept originates from the legal field where sometimes attorneys take a case on a ‘no cure, no pay basis, though only if such a case will bear fruits rapidly. However, in the field of lobbying, lobbyists cannot be responsible for the eventual attainment of their clients’ success.

Lobbyists not only offer pre-determined deliverables and results to clients, but they also help develop their clients’ strategic communications for many years to come. Some believe that if no immediate benefits are achieved, then nothing has happened. This is far from reality.  Lobbyists provide access to decision-makers, representation, policy advice, strategic counselling . They connect their clients to decision-makers so that they can learn about legislative and regulatory developments that are likely to impact their business and their clients are given an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Last but no least, lobbyists cannot take assignments on a “buy now, pay later” basis because their own business and living costs, like those of their clients need to be paid when purchased. 

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