Aimee Butler & Chris Waclawik Promoted to Principals

Aimee Butler & Chris Waclawik Promoted to Principals

 

Merriman Wealth Management, LLC, an independent wealth management firm with over $3.5 billion in assets under management, is pleased to announce the promotion of two new principals – Wealth Advisors Aimee Butler, CFP®, and Chris Waclawik, AFC®, CFP®.  

“Aimee and Chris’s contribution and dedication to Merriman and our clients has been invaluable as we seek to be the destination for clients and employees who are looking to Live Fully,” said CEO Jeremy Burger, CFA®, CFP®. “Aimee and Chris continue to demonstrate a strong commitment to improving the lives of our clients, lifting up their fellow teammates and giving back to their communities.”

Merriman is proud to offer a path to partnership for intellectually curious, motivated individuals who combine technical expertise and empathy. With the addition of Aimee and Chris, Merriman now has 15 principals. 

Aimee joined Merriman in February 2018 in its newly acquired Eugene, OR, office after holding senior leadership roles at Waddell & Reed and Ameriprise. Her leadership experience was indispensable as she helped integrate the newly merged teams and worked with clients to fulfill Merriman’s long-term vision of empowering people to Live Fully. Along with assisting many clients on Merriman’s behalf, Aimee serves on two leadership committees: the first designed to continually enhance the Merriman client experience and the second to attract and retain talented individuals to Merriman.

Chris joined Merriman in May 2014 as an Associate Advisor. Within two years, he was asked to lead and enhance the associate program into a development program for future advisors. While managing this growing team, he continued to be an advocate for clients and has helped the firm grow through new channels. In addition to his direct client work, Chris now focuses his leadership expertise on the Wealth Management Services and Client Experience Operations committees at Merriman. Always ready to contribute, Chris’s tax experience and attention to detail deliver great intellectual value, which consistently benefits our clients and team.  

 

 

 

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, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such.

Moving On Up – Ways You Can Prepare for Your Next/Forever Home

Moving On Up – Ways You Can Prepare for Your Next/Forever Home

 

High on the list of stress-inducing situations is the process of buying a home. And while folks tend to think of the first home as being the hardest, I believe it is the next or your “forever” home that causes the most consternation.

The process of buying a home has a lot of moving pieces to contend with for the buyer; and when you add in the sale of your existing property along with the need to be financially stable enough to balance both homes (hopefully not for long), it can make the move feel untenable. Here are a few things that I wish I had known back when I was making that move:

  • Cash is KING right now. Having excess savings set aside will help the process—but it is not the only way to finance your move.
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  • You may be able to use your current home’s equity to finance your down payment. Depending on the situation, doing this can give you a leg up on the competition, particularly in this hot real estate market. To accomplish this, you may be able to use a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a second mortgage. In some cases, a bridge loan may also be a wise decision.
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  • Your investment portfolio may offer some temporary cash for that next down payment. If you have assets in a taxable investment account and don’t want to sell them, you may be able to use a margin loan or a securities-based line of credit. Like a HELOC, you can borrow against the value of something—in this case, your stock portfolio.
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  • You may be able to negotiate a lease back of your current property if the next place is not available.
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  • With home prices on the rise, rolling equity into your next home could help keep your payments reasonable.
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  • Speaking of payments, interest rates are also on the rise. Working with an experienced mortgage broker can help you get set up for success. Start that process early and look for opportunities to lock in lower rates while we have them.
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  • Practice your new payments. Setting aside the additional amount you expect to pay after your move can accomplish two things: Add to your savings and get you used to higher expenses.
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  • Get creative! There are many ways to make that second purchase successful. An experienced team can help you find ways to get your offer accepted.
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  • Have patience. Buying a home can be stressful, especially when you already have a property. Patience and a sense of humor can go a long way toward making it a rewarding experience!

 
We love helping our clients navigate changes, like moving up. If you have questions about how to do this successfully, let us know.

 

 

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, legal or accounting advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken 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.

How to Help Your Adult Children Who Are Struggling Financially

How to Help Your Adult Children Who Are Struggling Financially

 

Co-written by: Aimee Butler & Moorea Monaco

 

COVID-19 has impacted jobs across all sectors, and State Unemployment Agencies are reporting an unprecedented backlog of claims. We have been hearing from our clients of a desire to assist their adult children financially. Many of the questions include how and what kind of support to provide and if it makes sense. If you are in this situation, here are some ideas on how to temporarily assist your adult children during a financial emergency.

 

DO

  • Start an emergency cash fund for your child.
    • Make a one-time deposit or smaller, more frequent deposits to a high-yield savings account (like Flourish).
    • Fun idea: Many banks or credit unions offer change deposit programs. They’ll round up your debit card purchases and transfer the extra change to a savings account. Think of it as a “Change Jar.” It adds up quicker than you think!
    • When your child encounters a financial emergency, make one-time distributions or loan them the money. Anything they payback can be put back into the savings account for future needs.
  • Gift them highly appreciated shares of stocks or mutual funds from your Non-Retirement accounts.
    • It could potentially benefit you by helping you avoid the capital gains tax if you sold the shares while they were still in your account.
    • After the shares are gifted to your child, they can choose when to sell the assets, and they will incur any capital gains tax on what is sold. Structuring your giving this way can potentially reduce taxes for the family.
    • Discuss this option with your Merriman Wealth Advisor to make sure it fits into your Financial Plan.
  • Offer small cash loans to cover emergency expenses.
    • Discuss a payment plan that can start once your child’s financial situation improves.
    • If mutually agreed upon, an interest-free loan with a small monthly payment is still more helpful than anything any bank could provide to them.
    • It never hurts to have the agreement in writing and signed by both parties.
  • If you can’t provide an infusion of cash, little gifts can still make a big difference!
    • Give gas or grocery store gift cards when you can.
    • Meal prep large casseroles or frozen meals that can be heated quickly and serve many portions.
    • Offer childcare when you can.
  • Help them review all options in their own financial life.
    • They may be able to take a special distribution from their own IRAs or 401(k)s for hardships due to COVID-19.
    • Introduce them to your Merriman advisor to help guide the review process.

DO NOT

  • Do not co-sign a loan for your child. As much as you want to help them, you could become liable for the loan, and it can negatively impact your credit history.
  • Do not ignore the tax ramifications of using retirement assets such as IRAs or annuities to give cash to your child. These assets can be taxed as ordinary income and have the potential of significantly increasing your income tax liability.
  • Do not stretch your own finances too thin. You need to protect your financial security first. We always recommend discussing large gifts with your Merriman Wealth Advisor, whether they be to charity or a loved one.

 

As parents, it can be extremely difficult to watch our children struggle financially and equally as hard to balance helping and overreaching. When making these types of decisions, we find that an objective third party like our advisors can help you make a decision that works for everyone. We encourage you to reach out if you need guidance with how best to help. We are here for you and your family.

 

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…)

Employee Spotlight | Geoff Curran

Employee Spotlight | Geoff Curran

Aimee: How did you come to Merriman?

Geoff: I was working at TD Ameritrade and Merriman was on our advisor referral platform. I was introduced to the firm by Michael Van Sant, and at one point took a tour of the office. On that tour, I started to feel like this was where I was supposed to work. My colleagues from TD Ameritrade even returned from the visit and remarked it was where I belonged, after they visited the office. I started working at Merriman less than six months later!

Aimee: What do you do at Merriman?

Geoff: I am a wealth advisor, have never been anything else here.

Aimee: What do you love about working here?

Geoff: I love the people. Financial advising is a team sport, and it’s not fun to do alone. I have a lot of fun meeting with clients and having the team to recap the meetings with. Debriefing with the team on how we are doing in helping clients is great.

Aimee: What is a fun fact about you?

Geoff: I was born with club feet and couldn’t really walk until kindergarten, but in high school I ran track and played soccer and basketball. Also, I have a favorite dance move called “The Stomp”. I stomp my right foot to the music, people around me need to watch out for their feet and toes!

Aimee: How do you spend your free time?

Geoff: Everyday my wife, Christina, and I walk our dog, Archie, rain or shine. Otherwise, we enjoy being homebodies or adventuring around Gig Harbor, Washington. I read thriller novels and like to finish the whole series. I just finished a 17-book series. I am also on the investment committees for the Tacoma Employees Retirement System Pension and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. It is really rewarding to provide advice to institutions and be a part of the action.

Aimee: What’s next?

Geoff: We are expecting our first child in late April (any day now!).  I hope to one day take the LSAT and enroll in a hybrid/virtual law program so that I can provide our clients with legal advice too!