As the year comes to a close, the team here at Meridian has been collaborating together on our individual and firm key objectives for 2021. We take this opportunity every year to revisit the values, philosophy, and mission as a company as well as to set goals for ourselves and a company as a whole. Some things we plan for and some things just happen – like babies and pandemics! This team exercise gives us a chance to take a fresh look at the value, mission, and vision Meridian was built on and provides a reminder for the weight of those principles.
Recently the importance of these practices was validated as we have been hearing of individuals’ experiences (or even our own) of lackluster service within the financial industry– i.e – never receiving calls, updates, or follow ups from their previous advisor, sent to a phone tree just to get sent to the wrong person who couldn’t help, or even worse, put on hold for 50+ minutes only to get to get told that their time sensitive request would be “looked into”. See image below for proof from one of our own!
This certainly is not meant to bash corporate broker dealers or platforms for retail investors as there are folks who are satisfied with their experience with one of these large corporations. However, at Meridian we pride ourselves on our the distinct characteristics and services we provide as an independent RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) and how that sets us apart.
So what does it actually mean to be an independent RIA?
- We have a fiduciary duty to work on our client’s behalf. Under the Investment Advisors Act of 1940, we are legally bound and have a “fundamental obligation” to work in our client’s best interest at all times versus a suitability standard that investment brokers follow. From a fiduciary standpoint any recommendations are based on the needs of each clients and pertain to their individual situation.
- We file form ADV with the SEC. Form ADV is a document entailing 2 parts – the first containing information about the ownership and regulatory matters of the business and the second outlines our services, fees, background including educational and business backgrounds of key employees, conflicts of interest if any, and strategies.
- Independent advisors are not tied to any particular investment product and are free to provide independent guidance through unbiased advice. We have the freedom to choose from any type of investment that aligns with the client’s goals and their best interest.
- We are fee-only which means conflicts of interest are removed and we receive absolutely no commissions or money from sales or purchases of securities. There are zero incentives for us to recommend an investment or strategy to a client other than it aligns with what is in the client’s best interest.
- Independent translates to personalized services and a responsive and attentive relationship. Meridian takes pride in our ability to build deep and long lasting relationships with each of our client which is the result of our ability to offer advice that is aligned with your goals and personal circumstances.
- As independent advisors we are able to address the multitude of complex decisions and needs that arise when wealth begins to grow, accumulate, or a life changing event occurs. Some refer to it as a financial “quarterback” who understands you and your holistic financial picture. And no waiting on hold to talk to the right person!
- As an independent RIA, we use a third party custodian to hold and safeguard our clients’ assets. This reassures our clients a check and balance system is in place.
While we know this is not new information to our clients (at least we hope it isn’t!), we continue to find incredible value in our mission, services, and business practices. Meridian’s goal is to treat our clients how we would want to be treated whether it is knowing you will always get a friendly and helpful person on the phone, receiving frequent updates and check ins from your advisor, and individually crafted investment management and financial planning solutions tailored to your goals and situation. As we continue to grow, we acknowledge how important maintaining this quality of service, care, and due diligence is for our current and new clients.
We are grateful for all the support and trust our clients have placed in us over the years through the ups and the downs. We here at Meridian love what we do and are proud of how we do it. Maybe it’s the warm and fuzzies I get around this time of the year or from the cookie sugar high, but I think that’s pretty special.