Incorporating Environmental and Social Values into Your Merriman Portfolio

Incorporating Environmental and Social Values into Your Merriman Portfolio

 

Investors like you are, by definition, actively planning for your financial future. At Merriman, we understand that you also want to make sure the world is bright for future generations.

To help align your investments with your values, we offer our Values-Based Investing portfolios. These portfolios are built in a manner consistent with our overall investment philosophy and designed to deliver similar after-fee, after-tax returns while offering you the ability to have an impact through your investment choices. One of these values-based options is our Sustainability portfolio. The UCLA Sustainability Committee defines sustainability as “the physical development and institutional operating practices that meet the needs of present users without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, particularly with regard to use and waste of natural resources.”

Our Sustainability portfolio focuses on including and overweighting companies that score high on sustainability measures. By choosing this portfolio, clients have the ability to shift money away from companies that have negative environmental impacts and into companies that rank better than their peers.

For the equity allocation in our Sustainability portfolio, we have selected funds managed by Dimensional Fund Advisors. When it comes to determining environmental impact, Dimensional’s approach to sustainability investing stands out. While many asset managers offer binary screening to exclude certain securities, Dimensional tilts toward companies that rank high on its sustainability framework while reducing the weight of companies with negative scores. This approach ensures a company doing better than its peers is rewarded even if it lags behind other companies in different sectors. This process is important because while a software company won’t have a very large environmental impact, investing in an energy company that has better environmental business practices than its peers can end up being more impactful on reducing carbon emissions in the future.

Incorporating sustainability considerations is a complex task. The sustainability funds we have selected use a Sustainability Scoring Framework on an industry level. The table on the right shows how the sustainability scores are determined, taking into account both the greenhouse gas emissions the company reports as well as potential future emissions from their fossil fuel reserves. This process penalizes companies that enable others to emit more or will themselves emit more in the future.

Dimensional also screens out companies with particularly negative practices around factory farming, cluster munitions, tobacco, and child labor.

Equities aren’t the only asset class where our portfolio includes sustainability considerations. Real estate has a high environmental impact and is an asset class where we are able to successfully incorporate sustainability considerations with minimal impact on investment returns.

Per the UN Enviroment Programme (UNEP), “The construction and operations of buildings account for 40% of global energy use, 30% of energy-related GHG emissions, approximately 12% of water use, nearly 40% of waste, and employs 10% of the workforce.”

As shown in the graph below using data from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, buildings have the lowest cost to reduce emissions. A great example of this comes from the iconic New York Empire State Building, which in 2010 underwent a retrofit. Windows were rebuilt, HVAC was replaced, and reflective insulation was installed. These changes resulted in the building having an annual energy reduction of 38% which translates to a cost saving of $4.4 million per year. This type of cost saving is also beneficial to the investment as profits from these endeavors are passed through to the investors.

Source: VERT Asset Management

We are partnering with some of the most informed individuals in the field of sustainable real estate investing by using the groundbreaking Global Sustainable Real Estate Fund from VERT Asset Management. This fund targets companies that meet a threefold criteria of environment, social, and governance factors. These include both positive and negative screening and tilts. The fund overweights REITs with energy, GHG, and water reductions and also screens out prisons, businesses, or companies with environmental fines. The Venn diagram below shows how VERT incorporates a multi-dimensional scoring methodology. VERT focuses on companies that exhibit “Comprehensive Excellence,” those that fall in the middle of the Venn diagram. After this, VERT targets “Focused Excellence” REITs which fall into two of the Venn diagram categories. In this way, VERT builds a portfolio targeting the best of the best first.

Source: VERT Asset Management

 

 

There is more than one way to invest in line with your values. Whether by using sustainable funds like those from Dimensional and VERT, or one of our other investment offerings, Merriman is by your side. We want to make sure your investments not only fulfill your financial goals but also allow you to live fully, knowing that you are making a difference for future generations.

 

Reason #4 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Provide Validation

Reason #4 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Provide Validation

 

Our work at Merriman is all about empowering our clients to live their lives fully. Having a financial plan in place and professional investment management provides peace of mind that allows people to focus on what they love to do most.

We conducted a survey to see why our clients chose Merriman and why they’ve continued to work with us throughout the years. We compiled their top ten reasons why—in their own words—and decided to showcase their responses in a ten-part blog series. This is part four, out of ten.

Reason #4: “Merriman provides what I’m looking for: validation.”

In the grand scheme of wealth management and investment policy, you may already have a sense of what you’d like to build and which direction you want to go. There may be certain investments you’d like to make or strategies that match your lifestyle. Even if you are someone who has an innate sense of financial strategy, teaming up with an advisor gives you a certain confidence that you’re on the right track and making the best decisions.

It can be extremely helpful to partner up with an advisor and have him or her validate your thoughts. In addition to our expertise, we offer clients that validation. Lowell Parker, a Merriman Wealth Advisor and Certified Financial Planner who focuses on retirement income and goal-based planning for pre-retirees, says this kind of partnering up with clients is his favorite part of the job. He said, “The ability to partner with my clients to help them achieve their financial goals and provide peace of mind along the way is why I love what I do.”

Whether you’re someone who has an idea of which way to go or you’re someone who is open to suggestions, an advisor offers opinions and strategies to match who you are, what your values are, and the life you’re living. They may even bring up additional items or suggest supplemental insight that you might not have considered before. 

At Merriman, we owe allegiance to our clients and their financial future which is why we custom craft your plan. Our advisors are here to help you every step of the way. Together, we help create a smoother investment journey and make your financial road easier and more secure.

To learn more about our unique approach at Merriman and how we can help you unlock financial freedom, call us at 206-285-8877. You can also contact us here to schedule a discovery meeting. We’re looking forward to hearing from you! 

Check out the previous installment in the series.

Reason #3 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Help You Get Your Time Back

Reason #3 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Help You Get Your Time Back

At Merriman Wealth Management, there’s nothing we love more than taking on the burden of financial planning so our clients can get back to spending their time and energy doing the things they love.

Over the past few years, we’ve been asking our clients—to hear it in their own words—about the value they gain from working with us. We’ve compiled the top ten reasons why clients hire us and we will be showcasing these responses in this ten-part blog installment. Here is part three, out of ten.

Reason #3: “Merriman saves me time.”  

At Merriman, we work to help you invest wisely, live fully, and keep time on your side.

If you could adequately choose investments, decide on a savings plan, and develop a strategy for your family, would you be able to make these hard decisions without ever second guessing yourself? How much research would it take to feel confident you are making the right choice? The amount of research you’d need to do in order to make a single financial decision could eat into the time you spend with your family or traveling the world.

Living fully means living your life, and working alongside a financial advisor means you don’t need to spend hours understanding financial markets or researching saving strategies. This frees you up for more living!

Markets shift. Times change. And Wealth Advisors and Certified Financial Planners give you the information you need so you can feel confident in your financial decisions. We also hold you accountable, which in the long run saves you time and increases your chances of reaching your financial goals, more so than if you were working toward these goals on your own. We all need accountability. Even financial advisors need advisors!

Merriman Wealth Advisors do more than simply invest your money. Even when life gets busy and you don’t feel like you have the time, we keep you on track with your financial goals.

To learn more about how we can help you unlock financial freedom or to schedule a discovery meeting, contact us via our website or call 206-285-8877.

Check out the previous installment in the series. 

Reason #2 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Cut Through The Noise

Reason #2 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We Cut Through The Noise

At Merriman Wealth Management, there’s nothing we love more than taking on the burden of financial planning so our clients can get back to spending their time and energy doing the things they love.

Over the past few years, we’ve been asking our clients—to hear it in their own words—about the value they gain from working with us. We’ve compiled the top ten reasons why clients hire us and we will be showcasing these responses in this ten-part blog installment. Here is part two, out of ten. 

Reason #2: “They’ve helped me cut through the noise.”

Financial planning comes with a myriad of components and sometimes we all need a fresh perspective to help make sense of what looks just like chaos to us.

When people don’t know where to start because there is simply too much analyze, we call this “analysis paralysis.”

Oftentimes, it’s not getting started at all that is the biggest hindrance to financial progress.

At Merriman, we take what seems to be chaos to you and make a tangible financial plan. An outsider’s perspective—like that of a Merriman advisor—can be crucial in not only getting you started on your financial journey, but also knowing which way to go first. Merriman Wealth Advisors help you discover your financial goals and work towards them. 

In thinking about analyzing decisions, Eric Jonson, Merriman Wealth Advisor and Certified Financial Planner, likes to think of it in the context of a pachinko machine. “When the ball is launched to the very top of the machine, that very first bounce can make a huge difference in where the ball ends up.”

An additional perspective is just like that first bounce. It can set you up for success and cut through the noise of the chaos. Sometimes, that third-party perspective is all that’s missing in getting started—and going in the right direction.

Our wealth advisors go beyond just the investment choices. We’re with you every step of the way.

To learn more about how we can help you unlock financial freedom or to schedule a discovery meeting, contact us via our website or call 206-285-8877.

Check out the previous installment in the series. 

Reason #1 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We help you weigh your options

Reason #1 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We help you weigh your options

 

At Merriman Wealth Management, there’s nothing we love more than taking on the burden of financial planning so our clients can get back to spending their time and energy doing the things they love.

Over the past few years, we’ve been asking our clients—to hear it in their own words—about the value they gain from working with us. We’ve compiled the top ten reasons why clients hire us and we will be showcasing these responses in this ten-part blog installment. Here is part one, out of ten.

Reason #1: “Merriman helps you weigh your options.”

Today, almost everyone has an iPhone in their pocket and a search engine, like Google, at the ready. Google is great for things like looking up baking recipes and movie trivia, but when it comes to personalized financial advice, Google isn’t great.

Our Merriman financial advisors take your life, specifics, and goals one step further. We’re experts in taxes, estate planning, and insurance, so we know how to evaluate all aspects of your financial situation. We apply smarter financial planning strategies with insight and intelligence so you can achieve your goals and protect the wealth you’ve worked hard to accumulate.

The Merriman financial planning approach is pro-active and collaborative. “Our process is much more focused on getting to know our clients,” Tyler Bartlett, Merriman advisor, says. “Money is an important tool, but it’s only a tool that helps you achieve what’s important to you.”

Google won’t be able to formulate a financial strategy for you. At Merriman, we can.

Are you ready to team up and unlock your financial freedom? To learn more about how we can help or to schedule a discovery meeting, contact us HERE or call 206-285-8877. We look forward to hearing from you!

Merriman Included in Top 300 RIAs by Financial Times

Merriman Included in Top 300 RIAs by Financial Times

We are excited to announce that Merriman Wealth Management was recognized as one of the Top 300 Registered Investment Advisers (RIAs) in 2019 by Financial Times!

Financial Times uses a number of quantifiable and objective measures of investor-centered criteria to select the top firms, including assets under management (AUM), AUM growth rate, years in existence, compliance record, industry certifications and online accessibility. We are proud to be named in this elite group.

To read the full Financial Times special report click here.

 

Awards and recognitions by unaffiliated rating services, companies, and/or publications should not be construed by a client or prospective client as a guarantee that he/she will experience a certain level of results if the Firm is engaged, or continues to be engaged, to provide investment advisory services; nor should they be construed as a current or past endorsement of the Firm or its representatives by any of its clients. Rankings published by magazines and others are generally based on information prepared and/or submitted by the recognized advisor. Investment performance generally is not a criteria for an award.  The Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers is an independent listing produced annually by the Financial Times. The FT 300 is based on data gathered from RIA firms, regulatory disclosures, and the FT’s research. The listing reflected each practice’s performance in six primary areas: assets under management, asset growth, compliance record, years in existence, credentials and online accessibility. This award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of the practice’s future performance. Neither the RIA firms nor their employees pay a fee to The Financial Times in exchange for inclusion in the FT 300.