What Women Need to Know About Working With Financial Advisors | Tip #2

What Women Need to Know About Working With Financial Advisors | Tip #2

 

I want to acknowledge that all women are wonderfully unique individuals and therefore these tips will not be applicable to all of us equally and may be very helpful to some men and nonbinary individuals. This is written in an effort to support women, not to exclude, generalize, or stereotype any group.

 

I was recently reminded of a troubling statistic: Two-thirds of women do not trust their advisors. Having worked in the financial services industry for nearly two decades, this is unfortunately not surprising to me. But it is troubling, largely because it’s so preventable.

Whether you have a long-standing relationship with an advisor, are just starting to consider working with a financial planner, or are considering making a change, there are some simple tips all women should be aware of to improve this relationship and strengthen their financial futures.

Tip #2 – Tell Them What You Want

Studies have shown that women tend to be more goal-oriented than men. I have found it to be true that women are more likely to focus on goals like maintaining a certain lifestyle in retirement, sending children to college, or making sure the family is protected in the event of an emergency, while others may focus more on measuring investment performance.

At Merriman, we believe all investing and financial planning should be goal-oriented (hence our tagline: Invest Wisely, Live Fully), but many advisors still set goals that focus on earning a certain percentage each year. This can be especially difficult if your partner focuses on this type of measurement as well. Women (or any goal-oriented investor) can sometimes feel outnumbered or unsure of how to direct the conversation back to the bigger picture. You made 5%, but what does this mean for your financial plan? Can you still retire next year? The issue is not that you don’t understand performance or lack interest in market movements, whether or not this is true. The issue is that the conversation needs to be refocused on the things that matter to you. All of the truly excellent financial planners I have worked with have known this and do their best to help clients identify their goals, create a plan for obtaining them, and then track their progress. If you’re not experiencing this, it’s either time to look for a new advisor or to speak up and tell them what you want. Also, note that speaking up is more easily done when you work with an advisor you like (see tip #1).

There are many different considerations when hiring an advisor: Are they a fiduciary? Do they practice comprehensive planning? How are they compensated? What is their investment philosophy? They may check off all your other boxes, but if you don’t like them, you are unlikely to get all you need out of the relationship. If you’re looking for an advisor you’re compatible with, consider perusing our advisor bios.

Be sure to read our previous and upcoming blog posts for additional tips to help women get the most out of working with a financial advisor.

What Women Need to Know About Working with Financial Advisors | Tip #1

What Women Need to Know About Working with Financial Advisors | Tip #1

 

I want to acknowledge that all women are wonderfully unique individuals and therefore these tips will not be applicable to all of us equally and may be very helpful to some men and nonbinary individuals. This is written in an effort to support women, not to exclude, generalize, or stereotype any group. 

 

I was recently reminded of a troubling statistic: Two-thirds of women do not trust their advisors. Having worked in the financial services industry for nearly two decades, this is unfortunately not surprising to me. But it is troubling, largely because it’s so preventable.

Whether you have a long-standing relationship with an advisor, are just starting to consider working with a financial planner, or are considering making a change, there are some simple tips all women should be aware of to improve this relationship and strengthen their financial futures.

 

Tip #1 – Work with an Advisor You Like

You may think this is obvious or that this shouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, it isn’t obvious to many people, and I would argue that it may be the most important factor. If you don’t like someone, you are unlikely to trust them; and if you don’t trust them, you are unlikely to take their advice, even when it’s advice you should be taking. You’re also more likely to cut your meetings short or avoid them altogether. Chatting with my clients is one of my favorite parts of my job, and it’s also when I usually find out about the important changes in their life that they might not even realize impact their financial plan. It’s an advisor’s job to identify the financial impacts of your life changes, and your advisor can’t help if they are not aware of the changes. The better your relationship with your advisor, the more likely you will keep them updated—and the more likely they can help you make smart financial decisions.

Take some time to consider what’s most important to you when building a trusting relationship, and don’t be afraid to ask an advisor about their personality traits or communication style. You may need someone who is approachable and compassionate, or it may be more important to you that they are straightforward and detailed. I’ve worked with enough advisors to know we come in every shape and size you can imagine, so don’t settle for someone who isn’t a good fit.

This chart can be an extremely helpful tool for identifying your preferred communication style(s). Once you’ve identified your preferred style, you should be able to easily tell whether your advisor is communicating effectively according to your personality. If they aren’t, send them the chart! Strong communication skills are essential in financial planning, so they should be able to adapt to fit your preferences.

Aside from communication style, it may be important to you that you work with an advisor who shares certain values that you hold dear. I recently met with some new clients who I could tell were not completely at ease even though I thought we had hit it off. They were squirming in their seats when they finally got up the courage to ask me about my political leanings. When they learned that we felt the same way, they were visibly relieved. It was important enough to them that I don’t think they could have had a trusting relationship without this information. If you feel this strongly about anything, ask about it when interviewing advisors.

If you find you are having a hard time getting to know your advisor, ask to go to lunch. Once you get away from the office and their financial charts, it will likely be easier to build a connection. You may even get a free lunch out of it!

There are many different considerations when hiring an advisor: Are they a fiduciary? Do they practice comprehensive planning? How are they compensated? What is their investment philosophy? They may check off all your other boxes, but if you don’t like them, you are unlikely to get all you need out of the relationship. If you’re looking for an advisor you’re compatible with, consider perusing our advisor bios.

Be sure to read our upcoming blog posts for additional tips women need to know in order to get the most out of working with a financial advisor. You’ll notice that all of the other tips are much easier to follow when you work with an advisor you like!

10 Reasons Why Clients Hire Us Recap

10 Reasons Why Clients Hire Us Recap

 

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 showcased the responses in a ten-part blog installment. Here is a recap of the ten reasons why clients choose to hire us.

 

Reason #1: We Help 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. Google won’t be able to formulate a financial strategy for you. At Merriman, we can. Read more…

 

Reason #2: We 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 to analyze, we call this “analysis paralysis.” Oftentimes, it’s not getting started at all that is the biggest hindrance to financial progress. Read more…

 

Reason #3: We Help You Get Your Time Back

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. Read more…

 

Reason #4: We Provide 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. Read more…

 

Reason #5: We Increase Confidence

If there is only thing you could do right now to feel more confident in your financial future, sitting down with a professional to develop a financial plan is it. Determining goals, setting priorities, and deciding on a course of action for reaching those goals provides a sense of clarity. There’s also an increased sense of confidence. Read more…

 

Reason #6: We Offload the Tougher Tasks

If you’re not someone who lives and breathes number crunching and financial planning like us, there are probably things you don’t want to spend your time doing. Read more…

 

Reason #7 Why Clients Hire Merriman: We’re Encouraging

In the same way a personal trainer helps you get into shape, a financial advisor encourages and motivates you towards financial health. If you’re looking for a little encouragement, we’re here to help you find just that. Read more…

 

Reason #8: We Hold You Accountable

Staying accountable is a powerful tactic that works well whether you’re trying to eat more vegetables, show up to 52 yoga classes per year, or finish the first draft of your novel. The same applies in financial planning. You’re much more likely to stay on track when you’re regularly checking in with someone. Read more…

 

Reason #9: Family Continuity

Life is about living! At Merriman, we get that. We’re here to help you gain control of your finances and get your money to work for you and your family, while you’re here and even after you’re gone. We find having a plan in place and knowing that everything is under control makes things crystal clear. It’s like preparing for the worst. When there’s a plan in place, there’s less room for stress. There’s more freedom. Read more…

 

Reason #10: Someone Else to Blame

No matter their knowledge, years of expertise, or well-advised insight, there’s no advisor who can single-handedly control market movements. Markets fluctuate. They always will. If, or when, a market is down, it’s easier for you or your partner to blame an advisor than each other. What we’ve heard from our clients is that ability to lay blame on a third-party eases relationship tension that could surface during those stressful times. We find this “safeguard feature” means a lot to our clients. Read more…

 

If you’d like to feel more confident about your financial future, leverage one of our financial advisors as a resource. We’ll get to know you, your goals, and your values, and then devise a plan. To learn more about how we can help, reach out to us. There’s nothing we love more than helping people get back to living their lives fully!

Geoffrey Curran Promoted to Principal

Geoffrey Curran Promoted to Principal

Merriman Wealth Management, LLC, an independent wealth management firm with over $2.5 billion in assets under management, is pleased to announce the promotion of Geoffrey Curran, CPA/ABV, CFA, CFP® to principal.

“Geoff’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 Jeremy Burger, CFA, CFP®, CEO of Merriman. Merriman is proud to offer a path to partnership for those individuals who demonstrate through their contributions a strong commitment to improving the lives of our clients, helping the firm grow and giving back to their communities. With the addition of Geoff, Merriman now has 15 principals.

Geoffrey joined Merriman as a Wealth Advisor in January 2016 after spending three years at TD Ameritrade. Geoff graduated from the University of Tulsa and has earned three of the most distinguished credentials in the industry – CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional (CFP®), Certified Public Accountant (CPA), and Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder (CFA). Geoff is an active member of the South Puget Sound community including serving on the investment committees for the Tacoma Employees’ Retirement System pension and the Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

Reason #10 Why Clients Hire Merriman: Someone Else to Blame

Reason #10 Why Clients Hire Merriman: Someone Else to Blame

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 ten, our final installment. We hope you have enjoyed this series.

Reason #10 Why Clients Hire Merriman: “If something does go wrong, there’s someone I can blame.”

No matter their knowledge, years of expertise, or well-advised insight, there’s no advisor who can single-handedly control market movements. Markets fluctuate. They always will. If, or when, a market is down, it’s easier for you or your partner to blame an advisor than each other. What we’ve heard from our clients is that ability to lay blame on a third-party eases relationship tension that could surface during those stressful times. We find this “safeguard feature” means a lot to our clients. Not everything is predictable, but you can feel safe and confident with us.

Since this is still the start of a new decade, this is a great time to get organized and chart a new way forward. Working alongside an advisor takes the pressure off of having to know what to do first, how to be right about everything, and gives you a back-up opinion you can trust. If anything does go wrong, it’s not your fault. (Feels good, right?)

If you’d like to feel more confident about your financial future, leverage one of our financial advisors as a resource for your family. We’ll get to know you, your goals, and your values. There’s nothing we love more than helping people get back to living their lives fully. Contact us! We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Check out the previous installment in the series.

New IRS Rollover Relief Update for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)

New IRS Rollover Relief Update for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)

What is the new Rollover guidance?

The IRS announced on Tuesday, June 23, 2020, via Notice 2020-51 (PDF), additional relief relating to Required Minimum Distributions (RMD), allowing you to return RMD funds withdrawn after January 1, 2020.

As it sits now, the CARES Act RMD waiver for 2020 is still in place, meaning that you are not required to take an RMD for 2020. This applies to defined-contribution plans such as 401(k) or 403(b) plans and IRA accounts. Those who have previously taken RMDs are likely familiar with the process; but for those who turned 70 ½ in 2019, this all may be brand new, and it’s important to understand the timeframes. This can easily be confused with the SECURE Act which passed toward the end of 2019, changing the RMD age to 72 going forward. Tuesday’s announcement extends relief to anyone who has previously taken an RMD in 2020 by extending the opportunity to return the funds up through August 31st, 2020. In addition, if you return funds under this new announcement, the notice states that the repayment is not subject to the one rollover per 12-month period or the rollover restrictions with inherited IRAs. This is particularly important because the SECURE Act changed the timeframe in which beneficiaries are required to withdraw inherited IRA funds. To find information about the SECURE Act changes, Paige Lee, CFA, wrote a great article which can be found here. There is a lot going on here, and the overall message is that you have more flexibility than ever on how you treat a 2020 RMD.

What was the original relief for RMDs?

The CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) was signed into law on March 27th, 2020, providing relief amidst the COVID-19 pandemic for many American taxpayers and businesses. We posted a blog that summarizes these changes which can be found here. In respect to RMDs, the CARES Act originally allowed individuals to forego taking a 2020 RMD and allowed you to return any RMD taken within the previous 60 days. Despite being a fantastic planning opportunity, anyone who took an RMD earlier that the previous 60 days was left out in the cold. Later in April, the IRS issued a follow-up notice that extended the time period to include those who took an RMD between February 1 and May 15 where the funds could be returned by July 15th. This is no longer the case with the most recent announcement, and now anyone who has taken an RMD from January 1st, 2020, can make the decision to return the funds.

How can you take advantage of this?

This offers a tremendous planning opportunity by providing households with the ability to shift income and take advantage of market conditions. Returning an RMD can lead to a host of strategic financial moves including the following:

  • Continued growth of tax-deferred assets
  • Opening room to make Roth IRA conversions
  • A chance to look at taxable accounts to see if it makes sense to withdraw funds at capital gain rates as opposed to marginal tax rates
  • Rebalancing—as the funds are returned, holdings can be adjusted to shore up your overall allocation

We help our clients make the best choices with the information available, and now that this new extension has been issued, we view this as an opportunity to review your circumstances, discuss the various options, and decide on whether or not to take action.

Connect with Merriman to discuss.

Here at Merriman, we are very excited about this announcement and strongly encourage you to contact us if you have already taken an RMD from your IRA or Inherited IRA this year. We’ll help you understand and explore your options and determine if taking advantage of this extended RMD relief makes sense for you.