Welcome to Merit Wealth Management.
We are a team of professionals devoted to helping accomplished families simplify financial complexities and achieve their most important goals.
We are a team of professionals devoted to helping accomplished families simplify financial complexities and achieve their most important goals.
As a nationally recognized leader in providing comprehensive wealth management to physicians and dentists, we believe a client’s financial plan must take into account where they are and where they want to go, as well as all of the unique circumstances that apply to their family and practice.
We take our role as trusted advisor seriously. Our goal is to provide clients with clarity, to educate, and to make significant and tangible progress toward every client’s financial and life goals.
Merit Wealth Management is a fee-only, independent wealth management firm with clients across the country. The firm is located in Bend, Oregon and online. We believe in the delivery of true wealth management to our clients through academic based investment strategies and comprehensive planning. We look to have a deep understanding of our client’s complete financial picture, from retirement planning to their philanthropic dreams.
Our principles and approach stand in sharp contrast to many in the financial services industry who prefer to play a rigged Wall Street game — often putting their own interests ahead of their clients’.
To the left are several of the distinguishing factors that set us apart.
“WISDOM IS A SHELTER AS MONEY IS A SHELTER, BUT THE ADVANTAGE OF KNOWLEDGE IS THIS: THAT WISDOM PRESERVES THE LIFE OF ITS POSSESSOR.”
— ECCLESIASTES 7:12 (NIV)
In our relentless pursuit to be the most trusted independent private wealth management company, Merit adopts an approach that is uniquely different from much of the financial services industry. We know it is a road less traveled, but a path that will lead us to providing you with the most honest, independent and competent financial advice.
As fiduciaries we are legally obligated to act in our clients' best interest at all times. Most large brokerage firms and advisors do not have to legally act in their clients' best interest, so you have to ask the question; Do the recommendations most benefit you or them?
Our clients take solace in knowing that they need not question the integrity of our council.
Investment-only firms and brokerage houses would have you believe that long-term financial independence is about simply beating the market. A well-managed and diversified portfolio isn’t designed to beat the market; it’s meant to manage the tax ramifications of your investments, get the most from your practices retirement plan, balance risk and plan for generational transitions.
We advise our clients on all facets of their financial lives, sensitive to how each piece affects the others. Our team of experts develops coordinated strategies that seek to provide optimal financial advantage. This coordinated approach eliminates the frustration and unpleasant surprises that often arise when trying to manage a loose network of unaffiliated advisors.
In you and your family’s financial flight, your investments are the trade winds beneath your wings. How you invest can speed you toward your desired destination … or knock you into a tail-spin.
To help you stay on course toward your loftiest dreams, we offer the compass of a solid investment strategy based on three key points. First, we have a strategy. Second, it’s a strategy based on reason and evidence guided by the durable science of capital markets. Third, it’s grounded in our fiduciary obligation to serve our clients’ highest financial interests.
Our investment philosophy is based off of academic evidence, not Wall Street forecasters or gurus. The basis for the principles found in our approach is a collection of the best evidence from the academic disciplines of economics and finance. Investment experts usually summarize this evidence as a body of knowledge called Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT).
Passive asset class investing and broad global diversification are rooted in MPT. Several leading financial economists, three of whom received the 1990 Nobel Prize for their contributions, conducted research resulting in its formulation, and our investment strategies are based on it.
Integrity and ethics is our first core value for two reasons. First, because your word is your reputation. That reputation is extremely hard to earn and very easy to lose—and at the end of the day it is all you have. Second, we will always follow through on our word. Or as the old saying goes “When you say you’re going to do something, do it.” Be a person of your word. We will strive to always do the right thing for our clients, team members and stakeholders —even when it hurts or is at our personal expense. In fact, the first rule of operation at Merit is the golden rule found in Matthew 7:12 "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you..."
We work in the client services business, and the client is royalty. Everything we do is focused on making our clients’ lives easier, and good service is not good enough. “Good” and “Okay” are forgettable. That’s why we always strive for a +1 experience—that is, great service plus that something extra that goes above and beyond expectations. We will strive to be memorable any time we interact with clients. Merit operates as an ensemble practice. Meaning, we are a team of financial advisory professionals that relies on the team rather than an individual to service and manage client relationships. Because of this our collective behavior focuses on the team goal rather than individual agendas. Essentially, we spend more time saying “we” than we say “I.”
We will always strive to communicate openly, honestly and transparently with clients, the community and with each other. We will do this while maintaining a very high degree of confidentiality and discretion for our clients and in this respect, the goal is to communicate to fellow team members that they should not just sit on something that’s frustrating them or that’s become an obstacle to their work. We encourage communication that’s respectful and aware of other points of view.
Constant and never-ending innovation and improvement. Never settle! We will always ask ourselves and each other, “How can I do this better for the client and the firm? How can I be more efficient and get more done with less?” This is how we will show up each and every day.
We strive to think ahead of the right now and anticipate our clients’ needs before they express them. Our job is to stay ahead of the curve, to stay on top of trends, and to ensure that we’re always delivering the most effective solutions and services to the people we serve. That means research on the industry and marketplace, regular planning meetings as a team and and check-ins.
We believe it is critical to have intellectual curiosity and to be committed to lifelong learning. No matter how proficient anybody becomes in his or her respective role, there is always room to learn and improve. This learning can come from formal education, professional programs, or simply from being open to another way of viewing things. We encourage and set goals around self-learning.
Many of our clients view us as their financial quarterback or personal CFO. The services offered to wealth management clients are tailored to encompass all the facets of ones' finances and to provide peace of mind for those clients and their families. Our discovery process ensures that your advisor has had an in depth discussion with you about your specific goals. Our wealth management service focuses on the following five topics:
Building an ongoing relationship with you is integral to all that we do
We believe in the value of comprehensive financial planning. Financial planning is one of the most important services that successful people use to create an extraordinary business career and personal life.
Most successful people have one thing in common: they want to get more out of their lives, and they don’t want to spend their time doing things they aren’t interested in or good at. Our firm specializes in helping you identify what’s most important to you and your family and how you can spend more time doing the things you really enjoy and less time doing things you would rather not do.
Comprehensive financial planning integrates all key areas of your financial life.
Is your asset allocation appropriate and customized? Are your investments performing comparably to their benchmarks? Were your annual contributions or distributions on target? Have you set aside enough cash for purchases to be made in the next three years? Do you have a system in place to track transactions and cost basis?
What is your financial independence number (how much money do you need to have accumulated to be reasonably assured you won’t run out of money?) How should you take distributions to be most tax efficient and get the most out of your financial independence plan?
Are your needs for life insurance, catastrophic loss due to long term care, property losses, liability issues, disability protection being covered in the best way at a competitive cost?
Because tax planning becomes more complex as clients income, type and number of applicable taxes, and variety of expenditures increase, we maintain a strong level of competency across a broad set of skills and knowledge in tax planning.
Practically every aspect of charitable planning takes on additional importance for successful families.
Are you properly prepared for worst-case scenarios? What do those mean to you? Knowing how different variables will affect the success or failure of your plan is essential.
Do you know how much you are likely to be paying for higher education costs for your children or grandchildren? Are you planning for K through 12 or higher education expenses in the most cost- and tax-efficient manner?
Does your estate plan match your wealth transfer wishes? Are your assets titled correctly and have you set up appropriate beneficiary designations? Have you established and funded all the necessary trusts? Do you need and have a power of attorney, a health care declaration, and a living will? These are common estate planning areas we help coordinate.
All of these areas are important to helping you achieve personal financial success. Successful people need and value all aspects of financial planning. If any one of these areas is not examined before decisions are made, then there is a danger of providing advice that may conflict with your actual needs.
Our planning services include mathematical analysis and forecasting, professional evaluation and advice, specific recommendations, support, a structure for making decisions, and accountability--all so that we can enable people to make effective financial decisions, and to find ways to become more effective in their personal and business lives. Often people work with us to put issues into perspective, and to make important decisions that require professional analysis.
In the broadest possible sense, our goal and duty is to be your advocate in every area of your life in which we are allowed to be a part. We are willing and ready to stand between our clients and the difficulties of life, to help you make decisions that will resolve existing problems and prevent future ones.
Our Wealth Management System doesn't just track your finances; it also organizes your life. You can digitally store your important papers and legal documents such as trusts, wills and insurance documents in a safe, secure electronic vault. Unlike online banking, online shopping or bill pay where money can be moved, our system is non-transactional. Our goal is to help make your life easier on a daily basis and particularly at a time of crisis.
When you become a client, we will create your "Personal Financial Home Page" where you can review on-line updates of all your accounts on a daily basis in a single, easy-to-access and secure environment... anytime and anywhere with an internet connection. Everything you need is just a click away.
A Letter from Jeff Griswold
Effective January 1st, 2017 Merit Wealth will be donating 100% of the profits derived from commissions in its private client insurance practice to charity. This includes any commissions from life insurance, disability, long-term care insurance and annuities.
At Merit Wealth, we believe the advisor should always unquestionably be on the side of the client. At the core of our belief system is the idea that investors should always know exactly what they are getting when they pay a fee for investment advice.
For us, this means:
At Merit Wealth, our clients know exactly how we are paid for our investment advice, we serve as a fiduciary on their investments in all cases, and we never receive other compensation from third parties for investment advice.
Unfortunately, this is the exception in the financial advice industry. Most financial advisors are brokers who have no fiduciary duty. This means they don’t legally have to act in the client’s best interest, instead being held to a “suitability” standard. When was the last time you wanted anything that was “suitable” for you rather than what was “best” for you?
Other advisors are “dually registered”. This means they are fiduciaries sometimes and brokers other times. It also means they can legally be compensated in different ways for investment advice. In our opinion, such advisors are the ultimate wolves in sheep’s clothing. The client likely thinks their advisor is a fiduciary all the time, when that simply is not the case. Why would an investor want to work with an advisor who acts in their best interests some of the time?
Yet other advisors are fiduciaries, but have created their own products that they then in-turn include in their clients’ portfolios. This is commonplace in our industry. Almost always, the funds don’t bear the name of the parent company, so it is not shocking that unsuspecting clients are often surprised when they find they paid a financial advisory fee to be told to own some of the same company’s mutual funds (and then pay another fee!). What are the odds these funds are truly the best in their class? What are the odds the financial advisor will recommend dropping the funds if they don’t perform their objective?
Finally, some advisors charge a fee to manage a portfolio then recommend a managed portfolio that pays the advisor yet another fee! Wait a second. Didn’t the client just pay a fee to have their money managed? Why is the client paying a fee to have the advisor hire itself to manage the portfolio? Along the same lines, some fiduciaries have mutual fund families pay them “consulting fees” or “shareholder services fees” for placing their clients’ money into their mutual funds.
Another issue around conflicts has to do with insurance. At Merit Wealth, we are not dually registered and are not investment brokers, so we cannot sell or collect a commission on the insurance products that are largely associated with conflicts, such as variable annuities and variable life insurance. Nonetheless, we do offer insurance services to our wealth management clients. 95% to 99% of the products that we recommend to our private clients (individuals), on an as-needed basis, are term life insurance and disability insurance. At Merit, we do not believe it is enough to advise a client. We believe in helping them execute on the recommendation. In other words, we like to take action to get things done for our clients.
Early in my career, I was referred to a dentist and his wife by their CPA. They owned a succesful general dentistry practice in a growing college town. I had put together a financial plan and recommended they obtain a term life insurance policy to make up for a shortfall. They decided not to get the policy. About three years later, the doctor died suddenly, leaving his family in financial turmoil and completely unprepared to steward the practice. What ensued for the family bordered on Greek-tragedy proportions. Since then, I find myself pushing clients much harder when a need really exists, and I am proud of the team I have in place to help get it done.
Having said that, I do realize that many in the industry perceive even term life insurance, disability insurnce, long term care insurance and other insurance products as posing a conflict between the advisor and the client. The argument is that the financial advisor will earn a commission so he has an incentive to recommend the policy, even if it is unnecessary. In recoginition of this I have decided that Merit Wealth will be giving all of the profits dervied from insurance commissions, to charity.
This is a marriage of our ideals. When it comes to investments, we only get paid one way, we are always a fiduciary and never a broker, and we will never create and market our own funds. When it comes to insurance, we believe some of our clients need it and we will continue to offer it to help our clients protect their families, incomes, business interestes and quality of life. We acknowledge the perception and reality of conflict and feel so strongly about removing it that 100% of the profits going forward will go to charities. Specifically, we aim to primarily help those that are in the most need of the services many of our clients are in the business of providing, medical and dental needs.
Merit Wealth Management offers Tax & Accounting services to dentists, their practice and family through its related entity, Merit Accounting, LLC.
Merit Accounting's mission is to provide guidance and clarity. The key to financial success for any dental practice is adopting a budgets, controls and goals that will guide your financial decisions on a day to day basis. In addition, understanding and controlling how money flows in and out of your practice will free you from financial stress and empower you to achieve your most important goals as a dentist.
For more informaiton about Merit Accounting plesae visit our website Merit Accounting
What sets us apart from the traditional 401(k) Platform?
Compare the advantages of Merit Wealth Management’s 401(k) program to those sold by brokers or offered direct by large fund companies and insurance companies:
|Merit Wealth Management||Broker-Sold Plan||Direct-to-Provider Plan|
|Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisor||YES||NO||NO|
|Advisor Assumes Fiduciary Liability for Fund Selection and Performance Monitoring||YES||NO||NO|
|Access to DFA Funds||YES||NO||NO|
|Expert team Comprised of Independent Service Providers||YES||SOME||SOME|
|Access to Thousands of Mutual Funds||YES||NO||NO|
|Direct Advice to Participants||YES||SOME||SOME|
There is a more elegant investment approach than picking stocks or timing the market. Merit Wealth Management's approach is supported by peer-reviewed academic evidence and real-world results. The approach efficiently diversifies risk while keeping costs low.
Merit Wealth Management is legally held to a fiduciary standard, considered the highest legal duty one party can have to another. By accepting compensation only from our clients, we are free—and in fact, it is in our best interest—to give our clients what we believe to be the very best advice, so they may have the greatest likelihood of achieving their goals.
The annual advisory fee is the only compensation Merit Wealth Management receives from institutional and nonprofit clients. We receive no part of the mutual fund expense or transaction fees, and there are no other costs of working with Merit Wealth Management.
In his 1996 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders, Warren Buffett wrote, “Most investors, both institutional and individual, will find that the best way to own common stocks is through an index fund that charges minimal fees. Those following this path are sure to beat the net results (after fees and expenses) delivered by the great majority of investment professionals.”
Although any investor would be well served by Buffett’s simple approach, if that’s all there is to it, most organizations could manage their accounts without outside expertise. Merit Wealth Management takes the kernel of Buffett’s approach and elaborates on it in ways that increase expected returns while managing costs and risk.
In addition, Merit Wealth Management’s investment philosophy is supported by the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act and the Uniform Prudent Investor Act.
We understand the needs of institutions and nonprofit organizations and the regulatory concerns their leaders might face. We address these issues through our specialized institutional/nonprofit services, some of which include:
Merit Wealth Management offers a comprehensive and confidential portfolio review & analysis to qualifying investors. This portfolio review is a detailed analysis of your current asset allocation, asset location, overall risk and of course…fees. Investors are often very surprised to find out they are taking on so much risk within their portfolio. Often shocking are the fees that are revealed through the analysis.
In order to receive a portfolio analysis a family must have a minimum of $1,000,000 in investable assets.
Email or call us for your complimentary portfolio anlaysis at email@example.com or (888) 516-3748.
We have developed specific expertise in working with dentists and physicians. In fact, most of the firms clients are doctors and their families. Our financial planning for doctors is comprehensive, dynamic and ongoing. As your goals shift and you mature in your practice, the financial financial planning needs for you and your family will shift as well.
Our role is to interpret and guide, protect you from third parties trying to gain access to your resources, offer suggestions and options, and ensure that you have the financial clarity necessary to make decisions that will best help you accomplish your goals. We’ll meet monthly, based on your availability and will be available between meetings as needed.
Ongoing planning and support
• Monthly pre-scheduled and standing appointment check-ins to review your progress, discuss any changes, and adjust plan as needed.
Between meetings, we will monitor your assignment progress on your client portal and enter/review data
you send us.
Our web-based questionnaire was built to assess an individual’s financial tolerance. Risk is defined as the possibility of a negative outcome. There are a total of 20 questions, which must be completed to get a final score. We score an individual’s risk tolerance relative to a sample of the US population. The result is a risk tolerance score from 0-100, with lower scores demonstrating low-risk qualities and higher scores demonstrating high-risk qualities.
The profile, along with other information, is then used to help individuals make important investment decisions.
Click the button below to start the questionnaire:
Our web-based questionnaire will help guide you to a portfolio within the 401(k) platform that best suits your balance of risk and return. By clicking on the link below you will be asked 20 questions that will produce a final score between 0 and 100. Once completed, a report will be generated for you to review. Page 2 of the report will show you your score and how your score would be grouped relative to other respondents. At the bottom of page 3, the risk based model portfolio that will best suite your needs based off of the answers to the questionnaire will be presented.