Seahawks, Merriman and Bowling

We recently had the opportunity to be the title sponsor for Merriman Live Bowl United Presented by Team Avril, a bowling tournament for all ages and skill levels hosted by Seattle Seahawk Cliff Avril. He was joined by several of his teammates: Red Bryant, Brandon Mebane, Michael Bennett and Clinton Mc Donald.

DMerrimanSeahawksuring this fun evening, a few Merriman clients and employees got to hang out with some Seahawks and show off their bowling skills at West Seattle Bowl. I think I threw more gutter balls than strikes, but that did not matter because the evening was about having fun and supporting a great nonprofit organization.

Net proceeds benefited United Way of King County and Strikes for Kids, a nonprofit organization that partners with professional athletes in bringing local business, fans, children and sports together for great causes. There is no better feeling seeing the excitement that the children have to meet their favorite Seahawk while having fun with their family. Strikes For Kids coordinates these bowling and golf tournaments across the United States. We were thrilled and honored to sponsor this first event in the Seattle area.

Below are some links to check out video coverage and photos from this event. Go Hawks!

Seahawks video

Komo News coverage

Live Bowl United

 

 

Fall and football

Fall’s arrival is always a sweet end to a perfect summer of sun and warmth – it wakes us up with a blast of cool weather as the leaves change color and fall around us. Most importantly, it brings us football season.

You may now begin your fantasy football addiction, adorn your college or NFL jersey, tailgate, or just notice football games taking over every TV in your life. Football is embedded in our culture. We root for a team to overcome individual idiosyncrasies and be the best and greatest.

Vince Lombardi likes to remind us “Football is like life.” If football is like life, what does your Life Team look like? Is your defense ready to go? Who would be your quarterback? What receivers would make your touchdowns? And what offense is preventing life events from taking you by surprise?

In the game of life, every family needs a good proactive defense behind them:

  • Your goals in life represent the ball – being carried through life against your ever-changing environment and market.
  • An advisor is the quarterback – implementing strategies for success as the on-the-field leader.
  • The research team is the center – the first line of defense to support the advisor in a volatile market, ensuring investment assets are diversified and invested to obtain the best return for the acceptable risk.
  • The technology team and client services are the guards and tackles – creating openings for efficient account activity, evaluating security of trading systems and your data, and blocking negative third-party experiences.
  • The advisor’s professional network represents the receivers – experienced in positioning you for success by looking for opportunities to protect you from potential blocks.

You also need an excellent offense: a proper asset allocation, efficient tax planning, detailed insurance planning and maximized wealth preservation and wealth transfer.

In the team approach, each player comes together to share information and ideas, review strategies for reaching your goals on a holistic level, and ensure an adequate offense to counter life’s hiccups.

Otherwise, the success of one player, you, running the ball all the way to the goal line alone is small. Individuals can at times think too much about changing their strategies, and sometimes don’t take appropriate or timely action when obstacles present themselves. They are not able to move freely through life and enjoy the present.

Consider your current Life Team and what changes you would make.

Over the past 30 years, Merriman Wealth Management evolved into a Life Team to help accomplish your personal and financial goals. We believe by aligning our clients, internal employees and external professionals toward the client’s goals and values, we can make a significant impact in covering the field to implement long-term strategies for success and helping you get what you want in life. Whether you’re ready to take the step to be part of a team, or you’re still thinking about making changes to your life strategies, we will be here when you need us.

Business Continuity Plan

Emergencies and disasters can happen anytime, anywhere, and often without warning. Last year, Hurricane Sandy caused significant and wide-ranging damage, which led to the closure of the equities and options markets on October 29 to 30, 2012. As a fiduciary, Merriman has a responsibility to protect our clients’ interests from risks resulting from the inability to provide advisory services due to a disruption in business, such as a natural disaster. A Business Continuity Plan (BCP) provides guidance regarding the steps and actions that should be taken in the event of an unanticipated interruption of normal business operations.

Here are the top five ways a BCP helps to minimize the effects of emergencies and disasters:

  1. Reduce downtime. Every hour business is down is time we miss helping our clients. Having a BCP helps us get back up and running more quickly. In the meantime, since Merriman is not a custodian, our clients are also able to call Schwab and Fidelity directly if we are ever temporarily unavailable.
  2. Ensure important business operations continue. Some of our day-to-day work is flexible and can be done at any time, but other tasks are time sensitive and cannot be delayed. A BCP helps identify mission-critical staff and processes.
  3. Allow for remote operation. If we are unable to get to our building (for example, due to a large snow storm), employees can work from a remote location via remote desktop connection. We also have a virtual phone system so that if the phone lines in the building are down, all incoming calls can be routed to employee cell phones and/or home phones. In addition, this year we switched our email to Office 365, which is cloud-based – meaning our email is accessible from any location as long as there is an Internet connection.
  4. Protect important information. Merriman keeps electronic copies of important documents so that information is not lost in the event of a fire. We also back up our data so we have redundancies in place in case a server goes down.
  5. Take care of everyone in the office. We have an emergency food and water supply that is restocked annually in case we are forced to stay in the building for a period of time.

It’s not enough just to have a plan; we also need to make sure it works! Every year Merriman conducts BCP testing using simulated disasters to ensure we are prepared for a variety of crisis situations. We take what we learn from our testing and update the plan as needed.

If you are interested in reading more, the SEC, CFTC and FINRA jointly released this advisory alert that addresses the importance of implementing and testing a Business Continuity Plan.

Want to be a Certified Financial Planner™?

As I read many articles about how to select a financial advisor I frequently see mentioned the importance of working with a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®). But what does the designation mean, and how does a person become one?  Since I am in the middle of working on my designation, I thought I would provide some insight.

If you decide to become a CFP®, here’s the process you would face.  First, you must have a Bachelors degree from an accredited university and a minimum of three years of applicable work experience. I’ve got these requirements covered and am working on the next step, which is the educational work.  The courses are offered by numerous sources and follow the same general topics. I chose the College of Financial Planning for my coursework.

Each course listed below is similar to a college quarter of studies with approximately 1000 pages of reading and 500 pages of questions and casework.  Each course takes about 160 – 220 hours of study and has a final exam.  My program includes the below five courses, and starting in 2012 the college will add a sixth “capstone” course that will be casework on the entire program.

  • Financial planning process and insurance
  • Investment planning
  • Income tax planning
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate planning

When you finish your coursework, you can then sit for the comprehensive exam given by the CFP® board three times a year.  It’s a two day test of your knowledge, comprehension, and your ability to apply what you know to cases.  The approximate pass rate is 50% and it’s recommended to have an additional 250 hours of study for the exam.  The course, materials, testing fees and test prep can easily cost you $5000 – $7000.  After passing the exam there are ethics requirements and continuing education.  To see a complete listing of requirements and topics, visit www.cfp.net.

To become a CFP® is a rigorous and costly endeavor.  The process has helped me to do a better job advising my clients and I can see the value in the recommendation that people work with a CFP®.

Merriman in the press

You may have noticed that our talented staff members are more frequently being published outside our own Merriman blog and website. We’re proud to tell you this occurred twice in the past few days:

Director of Research Larry Katz’s article, “Three keys to a richer retirement,” was published on MarketWatch.com

Senior Editor Rich Buck was a featured blogger on Crosscut.com with a post on “The best graduation gift ever.”

Publishing in the national press allows us to share the expertise and writing talents of our team with a national audience. Since a big legacy of our company is providing free online financial education to the public, we feel like this activity is a perfect fit with who we are.

We hope you enjoy these two articles and future ones to come.

Stay connected with Merriman

We like to share whatever is currently on our minds, and there are a number of ways we do it. In addition to blog posts you read here, we frequently post on a number of other information sharing networks, so you can get information from Merriman wherever is most convenient for you.

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And, if you haven’t already, you may want to sign up for our semi-monthly email newsletter. It contains links to some of our most valuable educational materials, in addition to some features not seen elsewhere. Take a look at the most recent edition here.