The Ultimate Guide to 401k Rollovers

The Ultimate Guide to 401k Rollovers

Introduction written by: Daniel Hill

Meeting new clients is one of my favorite parts of working in wealth management. They come to us from all walks of life, and there’s a certain fascination associated with discovering each client’s journey that brought them to Merriman. Part of that discovery process involves understanding a client’s financial situation and looking at their previous work history. We see asset statements for IRAs, brokerage accounts, and, more often than not, an old 401(k) plan from a previous employer that’s been hanging around. Trust me, I’ve been there. Everyone switches jobs, and in the hustle and bustle of getting set up with a new company, the previous company’s 401(k) plan is left to its own devices with the assumption that it’ll continue to grow in value. But at what cost?

There are several options you can pursue in handling your old 401(k). We’ve put together a great tool to help you decide what to do: The Ultimate Guide to 401(k) Rollovers! We discuss your options, ranging from doing nothing to rolling your 401(k) into a traditional IRA. We walk through the advantages and disadvantages of each option as well as what to think about before making a decision. Every person has a different set of circumstances that must be taken into consideration, so ultimately, the decision you make has to be the one that is best for you. As always, if you find yourself wanting to speak with an expert, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Merriman.

 

 

 

 

Disclosure: The material is presented solely for information purposes and has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be relied upon as such.

Inflation: Our Thoughts and How We Respond

Inflation: Our Thoughts and How We Respond

 

As investors, we all share the goal of growing our assets over time. It feels great to see your balance rise and earn a sense of security through diligent saving and investing. However, it’s important to look beyond the ledger line to understand how much our assets can provide for us in real terms. The actual goal is maintaining and improving purchasing power with our savings, and inflation can be a concern even when we see markets trending up. Prudent financial planning accounts for inflation so you’re prepared across economic conditions.

With inflation in the news for the past several months, it can be difficult to determine how much of the heightened concern is noise and how much is worth giving stock to. While it is undeniable that we are currently experiencing increased inflation—having risen 5.4% over the last 12 months as of September, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics—some level of inflation is par for the course. Let’s explore what inflation is in more detail, common concerns we hear from our clients around inflation, and some ideas on how to help protect your portfolio when inflation is high.

What is inflation?

In its most basic sense, inflation is “the decline of purchasing power of a given currency over time” as explained by Investopedia. While it is described as less purchasing power, how it affects us as everyday consumers is through the increasing price of goods and services. A common measure of inflation is the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index (CPI). The CPI is calculated by taking the average weighted cost of a basket of goods and dividing it by the cost over a prior period. Recent inflation has had an outsized effect in certain areas. The cost of fuel and gasoline are up 43% and 42% respectively from 12 months ago. The prices of used cars and trucks are also up 24%. However, if you look at core inflation, which is the CPI excluding the more volatile food and energy categories, the 12-month rate drops to 4%, which is much closer to historical averages. The Fed also expects increased inflation to be temporary, with projections at 2.1–2.2% in 2022 through 2024 per a report by Reuters. You can dive into the data in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics’ table of 12-month percentage change if you’re curious to learn more.

With inflation running hotter this year, what’s driving it? We typically see three different inputs that spur inflation, including: increased demand without enough supply, steady demand with falling supply, and the cycle of increasing wages and costs due to expectations about future inflation. The supply chain shutdown caused by COVID, as well as the demand rebound from the ongoing vaccination effort and reopening of the economy, are likely contributing to the increase we’re observing now.

What are the fears?

Inflationary concerns often stem from fears of the Fed responding by raising interest rates, leading to more costly borrowing and slower economic growth. However, the subsequent cooling may lower consumer demand and create deflationary pressure. It’s a delicate balance that the Federal Reserve seeks to maintain by adjusting monetary policy, but what does a potential interest rate hike to fight inflation mean for our investments? Opinion varies on short-term signals for rising rates. However, when investing for the long term, we find there hasn’t been significant correlation between interest rate changes and stock market performance over extended periods. In comparison, bond prices tend to fall as interest rates rise since existing lower-yielding bonds become less attractive relative to newer bonds with higher rates. We combat this by weighting short- and intermediate-term bonds more heavily to limit interest rate sensitivity on the fixed income side.

Another common concern we hear from our clients is fear of government overspending. However, there are two key points to remember. The first is that inflation isn’t inherently bad, and a consistent, low level of inflation often indicates steadily increasing productivity for the economy. The second is that government spending doesn’t necessarily cause inflation, and it depends on how the money is spent. There is a great analogy from The Guardian describing government spending and the economy as a flower bed:

It’s possible that overwatering could cause spillover, but it depends on how you water it and where. If you pour water in one place that is already saturated, it’s likely to flood and cause the flowers to die. In contrast, if you shower water over the whole bed, or focus on the driest areas, the water will be soaked up and the flowers will grow.

The article also highlights how massive spending following the 2008 financial crisis and recovery did not cause runaway inflation. Instead, inflation has been near record lows over the last decade.

How do we respond?

We believe the most reliable way to protect yourself from different economic conditions like inflation is to have a balanced, diversified portfolio that includes a mix of assets with real expected returns (total portfolio return less inflation). The amount allocated between stocks, bonds, and other investments like real estate will vary, but it’s during inflationary periods like this when staying on the sidelines and holding too much cash can erode purchasing power over time.

We also invest in specific asset classes to help navigate inflation. Value stocks tend to perform well in inflationary environments as investors seek present income and strong cash flows. Sectors like energy, consumer staples, and financials are prominent in value equities and often perform well during these periods. On the fixed income side, we utilize government credit in our bond allocations, which tends to be less sensitive to inflationary pressure than corporate credit. Merriman portfolios also feature alternative specialized investments in real estate, reinsurance, and alternative lending. These assets have real expected returns above inflation and are less correlated with the stock and bond markets. Real estate tends to perform better during periods of rising inflation as investors increase rents to adjust to the changing prices. Reinsurance contracts can also respond to rising costs and rates by increasing premiums annually and keeping the collateral invested in assets with at or above inflation levels of return. Alternative lenders utilize floating rates which provide flexibility in a volatile rate market as well. Specialized investments offer an alternative to purchasing additional bonds for diversification from equities and provide tools for responding to inflation.

Inflation is an important reality when investing, whether it’s how it affects portfolios or the economy as a whole. We enjoy diving into the causes, concerns, and strategies to address inflation, and hopefully provide insight to ease any worries. At Merriman, we will continue to monitor inflation and ensure we’re positioned properly to navigate changes, up or down.

 

 

 

All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax or legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. As always please remember investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital and past performance does not guarantee future returns; please seek advice from a licensed professional. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Merriman and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Merriman unless a client service agreement is in place.

 

Let’s Talk About Passwords and Password Managers

Let’s Talk About Passwords and Password Managers

 

In today’s world, password security is part of our financial security. As financial advisors, we’re very aware of this and take measures to protect our clients every day. However, we also want our clients to take measures to protect themselves. One of the ways you can protect yourself is by getting a handle on your system for passwords and how you store them.

 

Use Complex Passwords

Let’s first review what a complex, secure password looks like. Passwords should be:

  • At least 16 characters long if possible
  • A variety of numbers, symbols, and upper- and lower-case letters
  • Nonsensical if you’re using words, i.e., they shouldn’t be phrases or guessable based on your personal information
  • Unique, i.e., you shouldn’t use the same password for multiple sites

 

Add Additional Security Layers

On top of creating a complex and secure password, we also encourage clients to add additional layers of security with financial logins. Here are some of the additional layers you can add:

Security Questions. When filling these out, use answers that are nonsensical so hackers can’t look up your information such as where you went to elementary school or what your mother’s maiden name was.

Two-Factor Authentication. Sign up for two-factor or multi-factor authentication if offered, which requires you to enter a code from a text, call, or email, or from an authentication app on your phone every time you log in. This helps prevent someone from accessing your online platform by guessing your password or running a password cracker.

Verbal Password. You can add a verbal password or pin at most banks for an added layer of security in case someone tries to call in as you. Each time you call in, you’ll be asked for the verbal password or pin to confirm your identity before any data is shared or any transactions are placed. Many financial advisors will also allow you to use a verbal password. Of note, your verbal password or pin shouldn’t be personal information that a hacker could look up and guess.

Review Financial Statements. We highly recommend reviewing financial statements for your accounts and credit cards to be sure there aren’t any strange transactions as hackers now process “test” transactions for normal looking purchases. For example, someone ran a $17.99 transaction for Netflix on my credit card; however, I’m not the one in my family that pays for Netflix, so I notified my credit card company of this strange transaction after reviewing my statement.

 

It can be hard to get started with making these changes to our current password system—until we are forced into doing so. A few years ago, I had someone hack the non-complex and unsecure password that I used for many of my logins, so I ended up spending hours tracking down logins and changing passwords. It was a painful process, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to have to go through the same. I encourage you to get started before this happens to you; at a minimum, work on these changes for your financial accounts now and then perhaps do the same on a rolling basis for your other logins.

 

Use a Password Manager

Part of why it’s hard to get started on these changes is not having a secure, organized storage solution for your passwords. Historically I’ve seen people use a Word document or Excel spreadsheet to catalog these; however, cloud-based password managers have been available for a while now. There are several advantages to using a cloud-based password manager. Password managers:

  • Allow you to store all your passwords in one organized and easy-to-search place
  • Only require you to remember one password
  • Are encrypted, so they keep your information secure
  • Are cloud-based, so your data won’t be lost if you lose a device
  • Can auto-generate complex, secure passwords for you
  • Allow you to store nonsensical security question answers
  • Are accessible from multiple devices, such as your phone and computer
  • Can auto-fill your passwords for websites on your phone and computer like your browser does
  • Allow you to share passwords with family members
  • Don’t have a password reset option to add another layer of security

 

If you’re interested in using a password manager, check out Last Pass, 1Password, Dashlane, and Keeper. We use Last Pass here at Merriman and have included a visual of Last Pass’s example “vault” below.

If you’re worried about potential password manager hackers, think about adding a fake letter or digit to all your passwords and know that you’ll need to go delete that specific letter or digit when you enter your passwords. Also keep in mind that additional security layers, such as two-factor authentication, should keep hackers from being able to login easily with just your password.

Passwords are very important for your financial security. It’s not a matter of if—it’s a matter of when someone hacks your login information. By taking some of the steps outlined here, you can make it much easier for you to manage your passwords while at the same time making it massively harder for hackers to access your online logins and information.

As advisors, we not only help our clients with their investments and financial plans, but we also help them understand the current cybersecurity landscape and how to keep their information safe. If you have any questions about your financial security, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help you and those you care about!

 

Disclosure: The material is presented solely for information purposes and has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be relied upon as such.

 

Overcoming Financial Fears

Overcoming Financial Fears

 

Early in my career, I had several instances of folks canceling their appointments with me last minute. Some were for emergencies with work or family, and some were for reasons such as “not being prepared to meet” or “not sure this is the avenue I want to take” or, in rare cases, saying nothing at all. It was easy to take that personally, but over the years I have come to realize that such cancelations or procrastination in general when meeting with a professional financial planner is often driven by fear.

Let me give you some context. When someone has a financial problem today, they often will hit the internet—Google, YouTube, a blogger whom they follow for answers. When answers are harder to come by, they might call a trusted friend or family member and ask for help. Getting even to this point takes time; the question may be put back on the shelf for another day. But let’s assume it is a big issue, like buying a new home and figuring out how to finance two homes for a time. This person will need answers, soon, and a professional advisor to help. From here, they may ask for a referral or hit up Google again for folks to call—but then it comes the call, scheduling, and SHOWING UP to the appointment. They have gone through five or more steps just to get to appointment day, and now they are ready to cancel.

Why? We live in a world where finances are not often discussed, even amongst our closest family. We have been taught that you don’t discuss it, and then we are bombarded for years with the Joneses’ owning the next big, expensive item. Facebook and Instagram have shown us the best of other people’s lives; and by comparison, we feel inadequate, even if our financial road has been relatively free of detours. This feeling can make it difficult to approach a professional and lay out our financial truth. But I am here to say that it doesn’t have to be.

As an advisor, I pride myself on being neutral. Your financial life up to today is what it is, and we cannot change those facts. If you have debt, feel like you should have saved more, are late to the game, or have gotten this far by sheer luck, it does not matter. In fact, it does not change who you are as a person. If you are asking for guidance, any great advisor will take the time to educate you on what they feel is best for your situation and will strive to make you feel at ease.

As you are searching for an advisor, look for someone who you feel you can trust. Meet with several if the first one isn’t right. In fact, check out our blog posts on what to look for in an advisor and the 10 reasons why clients hire us. Everyone has something in their financial past that they are not proud of, and airing that to a stranger can feel scary; but I promise that we are not the “financial confessional” I once had someone mention to me. We are here to help and would love to meet you.

 

 

Disclosure: The material is presented solely for information purposes and has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Merriman does not provide tax, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be relied upon as such.

A Letter From Our CEO | A Year In Review & Exciting Office Updates

A Letter From Our CEO | A Year In Review & Exciting Office Updates

 

This season, we watch in awe as leaves on the trees burst with color and then begin to fall away. It is a perfect time to reflect on all we have to be grateful for and to look ahead enthusiastically toward the future. At Merriman, we feel an immense gratitude for your trust and engagement with us, especially during these last two years. We’ve learned so much from navigating these challenging times with you, and we are honored that you have stayed the course and continue to trust us with such an important aspect of your life. Your trust propels us forward and inspires us to be better each day.

In March of last year, I sent an email to our clients explaining how we would approach this new virus, COVID-19. While we didn’t then know the severity or length of time COVID-19 would affect us, we believed that by continuing our relentless focus on investment and financial planning expertise and seeking to understand the shifting needs of our clients, we would see our fellow teammates and clients through this successfully.

I expressed at the time, “While not perfect, we’ve been able to execute all our core functions—most importantly, listening empathetically to our clients and providing guidance based on our decades of experience. While we can’t predict how this will play out or when things might return to normal, we’re committed to seeing you through to the other side.”

I am pleased to say that with your patience and understanding, I feel we accomplished this mission. We listened as many of you shared your fears about health and family, the global economy, the time missed with grandkids or friends, or newfound uncertainty about retirement or job security. In each conversation, we strove to discuss what our most impactful support could look like. We used our expertise to rebalance portfolios during critical moments, took advantage of tax-loss harvesting and Roth conversion opportunities, and made some of the biggest enhancements to our portfolios in Merriman’s history. We are grateful for the trust you put in us, and we hope to serve you and your family for decades to come.

As a company, we have leaned into our core values to emerge stronger than ever. This year, we’ve added seven new positions (more than 15% of our workforce), and we are looking to add multiple additional teammates over the next six months to help us serve the many new families joining Merriman. Most of these new families have come directly from introductions you’ve made, so thank you. It thrills us that you would refer a friend, co-worker, or family member to Merriman. We consider an introduction to someone you care about to be the highest compliment, and we are energized to offer our services to benefit their futures.

As with so many things these last two years, we’ve learned to flex to meet new demands. We’ve had to reimagine how our employees work, balancing in-person contributions to our office community and working remotely to prioritize health and safety. We have gathered feedback from our employees throughout this period, and the overwhelming message we received from our team was that they wanted to maintain the flexibility to both work from home and have a designated office that supported employee development, collaboration, and community. Regardless of team member location, maintaining an excellent client experience has been paramount in this decision-making process.

After much input and reflection, we’re incredibly excited to tell you that as of January 1, 2022, we will have new office locations in Seattle and Bellevue, in addition to our offices in Eugene and Spokane. Your needs, along with the desires of our employees and our growth, were key factors in the vision of our new offices. Both spaces will provide beautiful client meeting spaces when we desire gathering in person. We are also committed to continue enhancing our virtual meeting experience for those of you who enjoy connecting with us from the convenience of your own home. We look forward to sharing more details soon.

Thank you for your continued trust and belief in the Merriman team. We wish you a wonderful and meaningful holiday season and look forward to connecting soon.

Thank you,
Jeremy Burger, CFA, CFP®
CEO

Why Cash Isn’t Always The Best Donation

Why Cash Isn’t Always The Best Donation

 

Whether it’s your time, money or a box of things from your garage – giving feels good. Donating cash or writing a check to your favorite charity is an amazing way to give back. It’s also fairly easy and the most obvious method for charitable donations, but it may not be the best strategy.  So, before you reach for your check book, make sure you understand your options.

One of the problems with donating cash at the bank is that for many people, there’s no Federal tax advantage.  That’s because the IRS doubled the standard tax deduction in 2018 and limited certain deductions we used to be able to itemize.  Depending on how you file and how old you are, the 2021 deduction is now between $12,550 for a single filer under age 65 and $27,800 for joint filers over the age of 65.  Therefore, if all your allowable deductions (including your charitable contribution) are less than this amount in a given tax year, you will not save any money in federal taxes by giving cash. In 2021, there is one exception to this that allows single filers to deduct up to $300 in charitable donations and joint filers to deduct up to $600, while taking the standard deduction.

The good news is, there are some options that can save you on taxes and allow you to direct more dollars to the non-profit close to your heart.

 

Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD)

Once you reach age 72, you will be required to start distributing a certain percentage from your pre-tax retirement accounts, such as IRAs and 401(k) plans. These required distributions are taxable as ordinary income, unless they are given directly to a charity as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD).  This is an excellent strategy for many people, even when giving smaller amounts.  By giving directly from your IRA, you eliminate taxes on the amount given (up to $100,000 annually) regardless of whether you itemize or take the standard deduction.  Unlike other charitable deductions, QCDs also reduce your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  This is important because your AGI is a factor in many other tax calculations, so reducing it can also reduce your Social Security taxes and Medicare premiums, increase your medical expense deductions, and help you qualify for certain tax credits.

To highlight the effectiveness of this strategy, here is an example of a couple who wants to donate $10,000

 

Clustering Contributions

If you tend to give every year and your itemized deductions are close to the standard deduction amount, clustering your contributions can be very beneficial.  For example, if you give $20,000 every year you might instead give $40,000 this year and nothing the following year.  This would allow you to itemize in the year you donated $40,000 and take the standard deduction the following year.  Even if you itemize, if your itemizations don’t exceed the standard deduction by the amount of your charitable contributions, clustering your contributions can increase your total deductions over a multiple year period.  This strategy is particularly useful if you have unusually high income one year from the sale property, a business sale, a large bonus or vesting employee stock. If you are able to cluster your contributions using a cash donation, this year may be particularly beneficial for some people since the IRS has waived the usual 50% of income deduction limitation for 2021.

 

Donor Advised Fund

Many people want to take advantage of the clustering strategy, but feel an obligation to give to a certain organization every year, don’t want to give it all away at one time, or are not ready to decide which charities to donate to. In this case, using a Donor Advised Fund may be appropriate.  These funds allow you to cluster several years of contributions for an immediate tax deduction and then to donate them over time. Until the funds are donated, they can be invested and grown tax deferred.

 

IRA Designated Funds

While the IRS does not allow QCDs from IRA accounts to Donor Advised Funds, you are permitted to make a QCD to a Designated Funds. Unlike Donor Advised Funds, Designated Funds have predetermined charitable beneficiaries, so they do not give you the flexibility to determine the organizations at a later date.  They do offer an immediate tax deduction and allow for flexibility on the timing the organization receives the funds.

 

Donating Appreciated Assets

For anyone who owns appreciated assets outside of qualified retirement accounts, donating these assets without selling them first can be a great strategy.  It’s particularly useful for people that have a highly concentrated stock positions and want to reduce their risk by selling some of the stock.  I think seeing a simple example highlights the tax benefits best.

  • An Oregon couple purchases stock for $10,000. Years later the stock is worth $50,000.
  • If sold, they would have a $40,000 taxable gain. The couple has $200,000 of other taxable income, so they would owe 15% in Federal long-term capital gains taxes, 3.8% in Net Investment Income tax and 9.9% state income tax – totaling $11,480 in taxes. This reduces their donation and possible deduction to $38,520.
  • If they instead donate the stock directly, they avoid the federal and state taxes on the sale, the charity receives a larger donation, and they receive a larger deduction.

 

Estate Planning

You can also incorporate charitable giving into your estate plan by naming a charity as a beneficiary on an investment account or in your trust or will.  This is often utilized by people who want to leave a legacy behind.  Since you receive a tax deduction on your estate taxes, this is a particularly good strategy for people who have a taxable estate and want to have access to funds during their lifetime.

When incorporating charitable giving into your estate plan, it’s important to consider how assets are taxed depending on who they are left to.  For example: an IRA that is left to individuals will be taxable as ordinary income to your heirs, non-retirement accounts may receive a step-up in cost basis (basically forgiving the tax on investment gains) and Roth IRAs are passed tax-free.  It’s therefore advisable to leave IRAs to charity and leave your non-retirement accounts and Roths to your friends and family.

 

State Programs

For my fellow Oregonians, The Oregon Cultural Trust is an underutilized resource that can allow you to double your impact when donating to one of 1,400 different Oregon non-profits. You can see which organizations qualify on their website: www.culturaltrust.org. By making a matching donation of up to $500 per person you will effectively have your match refunded to you in the form of a tax credit, which reduces your tax due dollar for dollar. The matched amount is then granted to cultural nonprofits across Oregon. Residents of other states may have access to similar programs.

 

Charitable Gift Annuity

For people who need additional income a charitable gift annuity can be a good option to consider. In exchange for the donation, the charity provides an income stream for your life, or some other set period of time, and you receive an immediate partial tax deduction.

 

Charitable Trusts

If you have significant assets that you would like to donate during your lifetime, you might also want to consider a charitable trust or a foundation.

Charitable trusts are irrevocable, so once assets are put into the trust you cannot use them for any reason not specifically outlined in the trust.  The benefit is that you are able to donate appreciated property, receive an immediate tax deduction, and avoid capital gains on the sale.  There are two main types.  A Charitable Remainder Trust provides income to the charitable donor for life or some other specified period and at the end of the period the remaining assets go to the designated charity.  A Charitable Lead Trust is the opposite.  Income goes to the charity for a specified period and the remaining assets revert back to the donor or another named beneficiary.  You will need an attorney to draw up the trust and having a professional trustee is often recommended, so this is best for more complex assets and larger donations.  If this sounds appropriate for you, you may need to act fast. There is a tax proposal to tax the gains for the non-charitable portion of the trust, notably reducing the tax benefit of this type of donation.

 

Foundations

A family foundation or private foundation can be appropriate for individuals who would like their charitable work to continue long after they are gone, by passing the torch to future generations.  The donated funds are invested tax-deferred.  Unlike other options you have the ability to hire staff, including your own family, to operate the foundation.  Foundations are highly regulated and can be expensive to administer, so they are usually only pursued by families with significant assets.

 

Not all of these strategies will be appropriate for everyone and what makes sense for you one year may not be best the following year, so it’s important to work with your professional team on an ongoing basis. Talk with your financial planner about how this fits into your overall financial plan, to ensure you are balancing your generosity with your ability to achieve your other financial goals. Your planner can also help you narrow down your options, coordinate with your accountant and estate planning attorney, and consider options for taking advantage of higher deductions, such as Roth conversions or realizing investment gains in a lower tax bracket. If you are not currently working with a financial planner, you can learn about the advisors at Merriman at www.merriman.com/advisors.

 

You can download a PDF of this article here.

 

 

 

Disclosure: All opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes and constitute the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of the report. These opinions are subject to change without notice and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Merriman cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source.  Merriman does not provide tax or legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult your financial advisor prior to investing. As always please remember investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital and past performance does not guarantee future returns; please seek advice from a licensed professional.

Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Merriman and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Merriman unless a client service agreement is in place.