The Perfect Match
Today is Valentine’s Day—the day we celebrate love and the pursuit of living happily ever after in a loving, long-term relationship. However, it is tough to find THE ONE—often you have to kiss a lot of frogs to finally meet the perfect match. In a weird way, finding your financial advisor is a lot like dating. You are looking for a long-term relationship—someone who “gets” you, someone who is a great listener, and someone who is both smart and trustworthy. But, screening financial advisors can be a lot like an awkward first date—the stilted small talk, the guarded emotions, and the sideways transition to the deeply personal questions.
Fortunately, the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNINGTM board has published a list of ten questions that you should ask any financial advisor that you are considering. In the spirit of making the perfect match, we’ve answered them for you so you have a better sense of Meridian and so we can spend more time getting to know you better when we meet!
- What experience do you have? We have over 35 years of combined experience with helping individuals, families, business owners, and organizations design and implement a personal plan to grow and protect their wealth. We have worked for several local financial institutions in various capacities, and we wanted to use our experience to build a financial services firm that was truly client centric.
- What are your qualifications? Sarah graduated with a degree in Trust and Estate Administration with a Financial Planning concentration from Campbell University. She has also obtained the CFP® marks which require her to expand her knowledge by staying up-to-date through mandatory continuing education courses. Nathan held Series 7 and 66 security licenses, the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor Designation, and is currently studying to sit for the rigorous CFP exam as well.
- What financial planning services do you offer? We prefer to begin every relationship with a full financial plan—we feel that we cannot build an investment portfolio or help with either insurance or estate planning needs unless we truly understand our clients’ full financial picture and long range goals. Once the personal financial plan is built, we help our clients wherever they need help, whether that is managing their portfolio, or coordinating with other experts like accountants, attorneys, and insurance professionals to ensure their financial life is all in order.
- What is your approach to financial planning? Our plans are born out of each client’s unique situation. We make recommendations, but always in accordance with our client’s comfort level. We work together with our clients to make sure the recommended strategies are not too cautious or overly aggressive for their needs.
- What types of clients do you typically work with? Unlike many advisors, we do not have a minimum account size—we love to work with “informed delegators”. An “informed delegator” wants to be part of the process of building the plan and deciding on strategies to pursue, but would rather delegate the implementation of the plan to Meridian. Our clients are informed delegators; they are very smart and do amazing things, but simply lack the time or the interest (or both!) to manage their own portfolio.
- Will you be the only financial planner working with me? As a small office of three, we work as a team at Meridian to implement your plan and monitor for any changes. We also have excellent relationships with other key professionals in our community, such as attorneys, accountants and insurance professionals that we can draw in as needed or as requested by our clients.
- How will I pay for your financial planning services? Planners can be paid in several ways: through fees, commissions, or a combination of both. At Meridian, we are paid by you through a monthly fee. We do not accept commissions or have any hidden fees, unlike many investment options such as mutual funds or annuities, which hide the fees in layers of legalese in the prospectus, your fee is clearly charged on your statement so that you can see exactly what you are paying for our services.
- How much do you typically charge? Our annual fee is 1% of the assets under our management—that fee includes full investment management, and ongoing financial planning services on your total net worth.
- Do others stand to gain from the financial advice you give me? No. We are only compensated by you, so our only focus and priority is you. We do not sell any products that pay us hidden commissions, nor does any other entity profit from the recommendations we make.
- Have you ever been publicly disciplined for any unlawful or unethical actions in your career? No. Because we hold CFP® marks, we are subject to the ethical standards of the CFP® Board. We have never been disciplined for any violations with the CFP® Board or the SEC (with whom we are registered).