Client Service Account Specialists – Who are we and what do we do?

Client Service Account Specialists – Who are we and what do we do?

Our financial lives are like jigsaws with a thousand pieces that only fit together with thoughtful, precise coordination. Each part of the wealth management procedural process presents potential challenges like paperwork submissions, complex legal requirements, and complications when corresponding with other financial institutions. Merriman helps solve these challenges with the help of a professional team of advisors, researchers, and operations staff, with the client services department acting as the glue that holds it all together.

In a nut shell, client services act as a liaison between the client, the custodian, and the wealth advisor. Client services implements and executes everything that you have discussed with your advisor. They talk the talk—client services walks the walk!

In the face of all these hurdles, our goal in client services is to lift the weight off your shoulders by completing tasks in minutes that could take you hours spent on hold and getting bounced around thanks to our experience and relationships with other financial institutions. We are also the first point of contact when you visit or call our office. And pride ourselves on providing warm, professional, and quality service every time you walk through the doors or one of your calls lights up our phone. We possess a broad knowledge and can assist with answering your questions or linking you with an expert. For all those times when you need a quick money transfer or confirmation of a recent trade, client services can help sort out those questions in one fell swoop.

Our client service all-stars go above and beyond for every client. Just imagine you’re heading into retirement after a fulfilling career with half a dozen happy employers, but now you have to figure out how to roll over all those 401(k)s! Instead of wading through that mire of paperwork on your own, we can prep the forms, gather your signatures, print the postage, and get those 401(k)s rolling so that you can hit the golf course.

Since none of us are springing out of telephone booths in red capes, how does client services pull it off? We manage all these super human feats by building relationships with our advisors and clients. We collaborated with our advisors daily to tackle the latest objectives for managing our clients’ assets. These strong bonds translate to our clients and their families. We value long-term relationships and prioritize our clients to take care in addressing every task. Whether celebrating a new (grand)child or coping with the passing of a loved one, we are here to support you throughout all phases of life.

And to get a picture with the voices and names, this us. Our individual bios can be found here.

#goals

#goals

Many people in your life – from your fourth-grade teacher, to your parents, to your employer – have likely touted the benefits of setting goals for your future. You may have written down you would go to medical school and be a doctor, or get married and have children or buy your first home by 25. We create life plans and vision boards that project where we would like to be at some point in our future. And then often, they collect dust. They get pushed to the bottom of a stack of junk mail on your counter and you lose motivation.

As wealth advisors, we start with your personal goals. During our discovery meetings with clients, we spend time learning what’s important to them around money. Helping clients live fully requires understanding the values behind the goals, and without that, the numbers can feel meaningless. (more…)

Why Advisors Need Advisors

Why Advisors Need Advisors

Have you ever heard the proverb about the cobbler’s children? It essentially states that the cobbler’s children, although surrounded by well-made shoes, have the most worn out shoes. Or that doctors are the worst patients? The same can be said for wealth advisors. We’re not immune to the common mistakes that exist in the financial world, and even we can benefit from the financial guidance we provide for others.

As a new advisor, I had an epiphany. Yes, an epiphany, as corny as that sounds. I realized that although I could adequately pick investments, decide on a savings plan and develop a strategy for myself, I wasn’t following through with it. While at a client meeting, my coworker explained it best by saying, “We help hold you accountable to your goals.” Duh! That was the thing I was not giving myself. I could make the best laid plan, but I wasn’t following through and doing the actions I needed to do to be successful. I had the knowledge, but needed accountability. The very next day I hired my first advisor. (more…)

Not All CFPs Are Equal

Not All CFPs Are Equal

I recently met with a prospective client, looking to hire a financial planner. She saw a TV ad from the CFP Board about hiring a professional planner. She visited their website and realized she didn’t know how to differentiate between them all. She wanted to ensure that the planner would help her look at all aspects of her financial life, and she realized that just because someone was a CFP® it didn’t mean they all operated in the same fashion. Her search was proving to be more difficult than she had anticipated.

It’s true, not all CFP® professionals are created equal. This article discusses why you might want to seek out a CFP® and some common differences to help you in your search. It’s important to educate yourself on what financial planning really means and to ask a lot of questions before deciding who to hire.

When looking to hire a financial professional, one of the most desirable credentials is the Certified Financial Planner™, or CFP®, designation. The CFP® mark indicates the highest standard in financial planning because CFP® professionals must meet certain educational requirements, pass a lengthy examination and have at least 6,000 hours of work experience for the standard pathway to certification. They must also adhere to specific standards of ethics and practice as outlined by the CFP Board.

Sounds great, right? The problem is that many financial professionals who have the CFP® designation use it as a marketing tool. There’s been a big marketing push to hire those with a CFP® by the CFP Board, and consequently financial firms are encouraging more of their advisors to obtain the CFP®. While there’s an educational benefit to anyone with the CFP®, it doesn’t always carry over into the work they do for their clients. (more…)

Hiring a Financial Advisor

Hiring a Financial Advisor

So you’ve decided to hire a financial professional to help you navigate your future. You’ve talked to friends and family members, and while you trust their recommendations, putting your financial future into the hands of someone else is a very big deal. You need to do your own due diligence, but where do you start? Not all financial firms/advisors are created equal. And with all the options available to us, many people decide to go it alone out of fear. They fear they could be hiring the next Bernie Madoff, or that they might end up being a number in a long list of clients. The task can seem so daunting that it’s often easier to hire the first advisor you meet, or do nothing at all.

It’s a big decision and many don’t know what questions to ask and what to look for. The below can help provide anyone looking to hire a financial professional a place to start. The questions are not meant to sway anyone in a certain direction, but rather to help ensure you hire someone you feel comfortable with and confident in.

Understand how the advisor is compensated.

Find out exactly how your advisor is paid and make sure you understand any fees and charges – and have them in writing – before making any final decisions. Fee-only means the advisor does NOT earn any commission, while fee-based advisors can earn commissions.

I believe fee-only advisors are best. I formed this belief working for firms that were fee-based and fee-only, and witnessed the practices at each. Fee-only advisors do their best to align their interests with their clients. They don’t make money off the investments they recommend. In a fee-only structure, anything that comes out of your bottom line in turn comes out of the advisor’s bottom line. Therefore, it’s in the advisor’s best interest to only recommend investments they truly believe are in your best interest.

Fee-based advisors might have incentives to sell certain products. (Have you ever heard: “If you want to buy your financial advisor a new Mercedes, buy an annuity?”) Fee-based advisors can fall prey more easily to their clients’ views and emotions, especially during volatile markets. You want to make sure you are hiring someone that will give you the best advice, even if it isn’t what you want to hear. “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.” – Warren Buffet. You don’t want a “Yes” man. (more…)