About

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)


We Provide a Fiduciary Standard of Care to all Clients

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.

Our Integrated Team-Based Approach Ensures Competence

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.

We Provide Evidence Based Investment Strategies

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 & Ethics.

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..."

Extreme Service

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.”

Open & Honest Communication

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 Improvement

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.

Leading Edge

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.

Lifelong Learning

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.

Our Team


Jeff Griswold, CPWA®, AIF®

Principal & Lead Wealth Advisor

C.J. Baxter, CFP®

Wealth Advisor

Jeff Gullickson, CPA

Merit Accounting, Managing Partner

Kelsie Kirkpatrick

Merit Accounting Founding Partner

Mike Angus

Client Service Administrator

Our Services

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:


Enhancing Wealth

  • Wealth enhancement aims to produce the best possible investment returns consistent with the client’s level of risk tolerance while minimizing the tax impact on those returns.
  • We structure a customized portfolio based on your ability, willingness and need to take risk.
  • Our academically based investment philosophy adheres to the Prudent Investor Rule and to the tenants of Modern Portfolio Theory.
  • Our portfolios are globally diversified and are composed of no-load (no commissions), low-cost and tax efficient institutional mutual funds.

Tracking Wealth

  • Our financial planning system doesn't just track your finances; it also organizes your life (click here to watch our video).
  • We organize all of your personal and family financial information in one place.
  • We consolidate your information and present it in a way that is easy to understand and available any time, day or night.
  • You can digitally store your important papers and legal documents such as trusts, wills and insurance documents in a safe, secure electronic vault.
  • Link balances of assets/liabilities that are not held with Merit Wealth Management. This allows you to see a snapshot of your overall financial situation in one secure area.
  • We regularly run annual analyses to ensure that your plan is on track with your goals.
  • Printable reports are available and accessible at any time.

Protecting Wealth

  • Wealth protection is aimed at protecting our client’s wealth against potential creditors, litigants, children’s spouses and potential ex-spouses, as well as protecting the client against catastrophic loss.
  • Our approach to wealth protection is thoughtful, deliberate and highly individualized.
  • Planning comes first: Managing the effects of taxes, inflation and market fluctuations; privacy, security, and legal actions; property and casualty losses; business continuation; and legacy creation and protection.
  • Next we consider procedures, documents and similar techniques that can offer the protection required.

Transferring Wealth

  • Wealth transfer intends to facilitate the most tax-efficient way to pass assets to succeeding generations, and to do so in a way that meets the clients’ wishes.
  • We will work directly with your attorney to create an estate plan that fits your specific needs.
  • We ensure that your assets are properly titled and beneficiaries are accurately stated.

Donating Wealth

  • Ongoing legislative reform may afford existing and new opportunities for charitable giving to play an increasing role within your tax planning efforts.
  • Keeping up with the latest regulations in this area can add value to your charitable pursuits.
  • If your goals include a philanthropic component, we carefully integrate it within your overall strategy.

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.


Investment Planning

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?

Financial Independence (Retirement) Planning

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?

Risk Management, Asset Protection and Insurance Planning (protecting you from catastrophe)

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?

Tax Planning and Management (in concert with your CPA or other tax professionals)

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.

Charitable Giving

Practically every aspect of charitable planning takes on additional importance for successful families.

Stress Tests

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.

Education Funding

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?

Estate Planning (helping you transfer your lifetime assets to your heirs and/or to worthy causes)

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:

  • The client should clearly know the fee they are paying the advisor for advice.
  • The advisor should always act as a fiduciary when giving the client investment advice.
  • The advisor should never get paid any other way for the investment advice.

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. 

Jeff Griswold

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?


Access to Fee-only, Independent Registered Investment Advisors

  • Having a plan with access to fee-only, independent advisors who serve as both ERISA 3(21) and 3(38) advisors, takes the liability for investment selection and performance monitoring off of the plan sponsor.
  • Rather than being left alone to choose from a menu of funds, participants receive expert, one-on-one advice.

Transparency

  • Unfortunately, due to the pervasive practices (revenue-sharing, 12(b)1 fees, sub-transfer agency fees, etc.) of the retirement plan industry, many plan sponsors are not confident in their knowledge of the total expenses of their plans. Yet ERISA clearly states that plan sponsors have a duty to understand fees and expenses and to ensure that those are reasonable.
  • Our platform breaks out each service provided so you know who you’re paying and for what purpose.
  • NO HIDDEN FEES
  • NO FEE-SHARING ARRANGEMENTS

Access to Institutional Investment Vehicles

  • Access to these investment vehicles are not available on retail 401(k) platforms and normally require a minimum investment of $2 million per fund.
  • Access to advisor managed portfolios that give participants the ability to turn the management of their 401(k) assets over to expert advisors.

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 ManagementBroker-Sold PlanDirect-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
Advisor-Managed Portfolios YES NO NO
Expert team Comprised of Independent Service Providers YES SOME SOME
Access to Thousands of Mutual Funds YES NO NO
Full-Fee Transparency YES NO NO
Direct Advice to Participants YES SOME SOME

Prudent Advice for Institutional and Nonprofit Investors

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.

Fiduciary Standard of Care

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.

Fee Structure

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.

Merit Wealth Management's Investment Philosophy Aligns With Institutions and Nonprofit Organizations That Seek to Manage Risk

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.

Value Beyond Investment Advice

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:

  • Creating multi-scenario projections to determine optimal balance of risk and return needed
  • Reviewing and helping create an Investment Policy Statement and spending plan
  • Managing all custodial issues (for example, account setup, transfers, disbursements) through a dedicated client service team
  • Providing clear and detailed quarterly performance reporting with benchmark comparisons and quarterly economic review/outlook
  • Attending presentations for committee meetings and as needed
  • Offering institutional bond expertise and pricing
  • Providing access to institutional and nonprofit research and education

To request a proposal please email contact@meritwealth.com.This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with information and guidelines, or call (888) 516-3748 to speak with an advisor directly. 

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.

Included in the portfolio review & analysis:

  • Overall portfolio allocation including domestic & international equity, hard assets, If assets are held in the proper accounts for the purposes of tax efficiency, cash, common stock, unsystematic risk exposure
  • Detailed fixed income (Bond) analysis including overall maturity structure, corporate or high-yield exposure, callable bonds, small lots of individual bonds and the credit quality of individual bonds
  • Mutual Funds: expense ratios, 12b-1 fees, sales loads and turnover ratios
  • Annuities: tax treatment, expenses, mortality costs, administrative costs, deferred sales charges and liquidity
  • Correlation and Three-Factor Regression 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 contact@meritwealth.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.

Examples of areas of planning, discussion and guidance:

  • Cash flow and budgeting: what keeps you on or takes you off track?
  • Debt management and student loans
  • Setting and prioritizing goals, defining short- and long-term
  • In-depth discussion of how to achieve short-term goals (paying off student loans, buying a house, wedding/children)
  • Estate and legal planning
  • College funding – what, when, and how
  • Risk Management – insurance and other risk avoidance measures
  • Investing and portfolio structures, investment education for the doctor, family and practice team members.
  • Tax planning: priorities, finding opportunities in the tax code, making decisions, timing
  • Premarital financial counseling
  • Starting a practice/buying into a partnership/adding a partner
  • Succession planning – cross purchase agreements, sale of your share of business, benefits of lifetime v. post-mortem gifts, winding down
  • Contract review and discussion - tax implications
  • Setting up your practice; employee benefits, choice of entity, etc.
  • Planning for divorce
  • Supporting aging parents
  • Long-term care planning
  • Early retirement
  • Post-retirement investment/retirement withdrawal planning
  • Social Security planning and strategies; breakeven analysis
  • Any other financial issues specific to you

Between meetings, we will monitor your assignment progress on your client portal and enter/review data
you send us.

 

Resources

Discover Your Risk Tolerance

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:

Match your Risk Tolerance with One of our Five Risk Based Model Portfolios

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.

 

 

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Contact

Merit Wealth Management LLC

Address

404 SW Columbia Street Suite 214
Bend, OR 97702

Email

contact@meritwealth.com

Phone

888-51-MERIT (888-516-3748)

Fax

541-550-2223