Providing combined advisory experience spanning decades,
we support our clients with financial acumen, expertise and vision.
Gregg Clarke, CFP®
Senior Financial Planner
Kacy Gott, CFP®
Senior Financial Planner
Phyllis Garratt, CFP®
Senior Financial Planner
Chief Financial and
Client Services Manager
Client Services Associate
As a Meritas client, you will interact directly with our seasoned professionals who have deep experience and sophisticated expertise in investment management. Our professionals coordinate their efforts as a team which results in personal and attentive service.
Based upon careful listening, discussion and analysis, we will build and implement your customized, integrated wealth plan. Our objective is to simplify the process and help you define and achieve your financial and investment goals, both short- and long-term.
MERITAS ADVISORS WORK REGULARLY WITH YOU TO:
Meritas Wealth Management, LLC is regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as a Registered
Investment Advisor. As such, Meritas is a Fiduciary, meaning simply that we are legally obligated to work primarily for
the client and to place the client’s interests first in all aspects of portfolio management.
Our sole focus—and our only business—is financial planning and wealth management. We are not a broker-dealer, commercial lending institution or investment bank. As a result, you are protected from the risks and conflicts of interest inherent in those business models.
Meritas Wealth Management, LLC’s services are fee-only. Under this arrangement you are assured that our advice is impartial. We do not accept any referral fees or compensation that is contingent upon the recommendation, purchase or sale of any investment product.
We receive no direct or indirect compensation from anyone other than you, our client, for any service we provide. We strongly believe that your returns are greatly enhanced when you are provided with objective and unbiased service.
There is no investment minimum to secure the services of Meritas. Our asset-based management fees are calculated on a sliding scale and are competitively priced to give you value for your returns. Fees may be subject to a $5,000 minimum per year.
Financial Planning Services: Hourly and Fixed Fee (Quoted after initial meeting but typically $3,500 to $5,000 for a comprehensive financial plan)
Assets Under Management Annual Fee*
*For example, the quarterly fee for an account balance of $1,000,000 is $2,500. Quarterly charges are a minimum $1,250 until the managed accounts exceed $500,000.
Fee for external assets: Hourly. (401(k), 403(b), ESPP, stock options, etc.)
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why is a financial plan important to success?
A well-crafted financial plan clarifies what is most important to you and seeks to help you define life goals. Your financial plan is customized to your specific situation and serves as a foundation for making informed choices about your spending, savings and investments.
What does a financial plan include?
A financial plan includes a multi-page summary report and detailed analysis of the steps required to implement the strategies necessary to achieve your goals. A financial plan is built upon information specific to your unique circumstance and may include the following: Net Worth and Cash Flow Analysis, Insurance Needs Analysis, Income Tax Analysis, Education Planning and Funding, Estate Planning Review, Real Estate and Refinance Analysis, Business Transition Options, Financial Independence and Retirement Plan, Individual Investment Plan.
Will you manage money without first completing a financial plan?
Yes, but we strongly encourage you to create a financial plan first. It has been our experience that the financial planning process helps you to discover what is truly important to you, enabling Meritas to allocate your assets in a manner customized to match your personal values and individual goals.
Is there a minimum portfolio size requirement?
No, Meritas does not require a minimum portfolio amount in order to become a client. However, in many cases we do impose a minimum fee of $5,000 per year. Please see our fee structure for more information.
What’s the difference between a wealth management firm and a brokerage firm?
As a wealth management firm, Meritas provides investment advisory services as SEC Registered Investment Advisers*. Registered Investment Advisers are held to a higher standard than brokers; they are required to abide by the rules of the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, which legally obligates them to act solely in the best interests of their clients. Brokers are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which imposes a “suitability standard” rather than the stricter fiduciary standard. This means an investment sold by a broker must be deemed “suitable” for the client, but does not have to be solely in the client’s best interest. (* Any reference to or use of the terms “registered investment adviser” or “registered,” does not imply that Meritas Wealth Management, LLC or any person associated with Meritas Wealth Management, LLC has achieved a certain level of skill or training.)
Who is in charge of managing my assets?
Meritas will directly manage your investment portfolio. While we use outside vendors to help with the administrative and reporting processes required to manage your account, Meritas directs all your investments based on an individually tailored portfolio. We do not turn over asset management decisions to a third party.
Does Meritas hold my portfolio for me?
Your portfolio is held by TD Ameritrade – a secure third party custodian, with Meritas acting as Fiduciary. Please contact our office to learn more about the comprehensive security measures that clients receive as a result of our relationship with TD Ameritrade.
Are my investments at Meritas FDIC insured?
No, only funds held by a bank are FDIC insured, but the funds you invest with Meritas are safe thanks to regulations protecting mutual funds, stocks and bonds. Our account holder is TD Ameritrade, which is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).
When should I contact my advisor?
Whenever you have a question or concern about your finances or changes in your financial situation. If you are unsure about anything having to do with money please don’t hesitate to call us to discuss the issue. There is no extra fee for phone inquiries.
How often should I meet with my advisor?
We prefer to meet with clients at least once a year. If you can’t make an in-person meeting, please call to set up an online meeting. These meetings are very important and keep you up-to-date on current economic, tax, estate and retirement issues. They also give you an opportunity to discuss any changes in your life that may affect your financial planning needs.
Is there a charge for meeting an advisor?
No, there’s no charge for meetings; they are included in our services. However, there may be a fee charged for financial planning updates that include a systematic review of new information. When charging for financial plan updates, we will always provide an estimate of the cost before we begin.
What is an Investment Policy Statement (IPS)?
An IPS is a document that establishes reasonable expectations, objectives and guidelines pertaining to the investment and management of your portfolio assets. The IPS provides both you and Meritas a very clear directive on how your account is to be managed. Meritas does not change the risk and return objectives of your IPS without first discussing the changes with you.
Can you help me understand my statements?
Of course, bring them in or give us a call. Financial account statements can be difficult to interpret and we are happy to go over them with you.
What is the scientific method of diversification?
We believe that successful investing means not only capturing risks that can potentially generate expected returns but reducing risks that do not. Avoidable risks include holding too few securities, betting on countries or industries, following market predictions, and speculating on “information” from rating services. We also believe that diversification is the antidote to all these risks. It washes away the random fortunes of individual stocks and can position your portfolio to capture the returns of broad economic forces. For many investors, the S&P 500 Index represents the first equity asset class in a diversified portfolio. Although the S&P 500 Index is diversified in large US companies, investors can potentially benefit further by adding other components. Take, for example, a portfolio that holds just US stocks (S&P 500 Index), a portfolio that holds just Japanese stocks (MSCI Japan Index), and a portfolio that holds both. The diversified portfolio has not only provided a higher historical return than either alone, but it has done so with fewer negative quarters. We use low-cost, institutional-only index funds that not only diversify the quantity of securities held (thousands) but also the number of capital markets (large, small, U.S., international, value, growth, etc.). We believe, in this way, investors benefit from the factors that drive investment returns and reduce excess and undesirable risk.
If you don’t “pick stocks,” how do you decide which stocks to buy?
Meritas utilizes a fund strategy developed by the Dimensional Fund Group, which has been proven over time to beat or equal the market. Buying stocks for the funds is a detailed process, but in general terms it means creating a universe of all stocks, then filtering them according to specific criteria. We create an eligible universe of all traded stocks of real operating companies, then apply filters to exclude stocks that do not fit the asset class of the fund or that have specific pricing or trading concerns. The remaining stocks are eligible for purchase and are subject to rough market-capitalization target weights. We regularly monitor trading in the marketplace with real-time checks for current news that may impact prices, such as a looming takeover. Other than that, we’re generally indifferent among the stocks in the eligible universe, which allows us to trade opportunistically and take advantage of liquidity premiums that benefit client returns.
How do I make a deposit to my account?
You can mail a check to the Meritas office (or drop it by). Don’t forget to indicate in the memo section of the check which account the deposit is for. If the deposit is for a retirement account, please indicate the tax year of the deposit. If you would like to wire or direct deposit money into your account electronically, please ask us for instructions. If you would like to make systematic deposits either monthly or quarterly, we can help you set up a regular ACH deposit directly from your personal checking account to your investment account.
Who do I make my deposit check out to?
Make your check payable to TD Ameritrade. As a fiduciary, Meritas does not have direct custody of client assets. Please indicate the title of the account you wish to deposit into in the memo section of the check. Also include the account number if you have it. Once again, please include the “tax year” for any retirement account contributions (IRA, ROTH, SEP, SIMPLE, 401k, etc).
How can I get money out of my account?
Just call or email us with the request. Please let us know how you would like the money sent (i.e., check, ACH or wire) and when you will need it. If you need to take a large amount from your account that will involve trading and likely cause tax liabilities it is a good idea to speak with your advisor directly.
How long will it take to get my money?
Small withdrawals for amounts available in cash holdings are immediate, but it can take up to a week to process a large withdrawal. This is because it can take up to 3 days for the trades to settle. Keep in mind that it may take 3-4 days for a check to be cut and mailed out. Don’t forget that your check from your TD Ameritrade account will also need to be deposited at your bank (and your bank may place a brief hold on the check).
Is there a charge for withdrawals?
No, there’s no charge from TD Ameritrade or Meritas for a standard withdrawal. If you would like a check from your account sent via an overnight carrier there is a fee for the overnight delivery service. Your bank, however, may charge a fee for wires. Also, please keep in mind that there may be tax ramifications upon the sale of an investment in a taxable account.
Is it possible to set up regular withdrawals?
If you wish to make regular withdrawals, you can set up your account with automatic withdrawals for a fixed amount each month, sent either to your bank electronically or to any bank of your choice. All withdrawal requests to a location other than your address or bank of record via check require your signed approval.
Can I view my account and get statements/confirmations online?
Yes, it’s easy to set up online access to your TD Ameritrade account(s). You can use the information provided by TD Ameritrade and set up account access through their website. If this isn’t clear, contact us and we’ll walk you through it. Once online you’ll be able to view your holdings and retrieve previous monthly statements and trade confirmations at your convenience.