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Merit Financial Advisors Review

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This review was produced by SmartAsset based on publicly available information. The named firm and its financial professionals have not reviewed, approved, or endorsed this review and are not responsible for its accuracy. Review content is produced by SmartAsset independently of any business relationships that might exist between SmartAsset and the named firm and its financial professionals, and firms and financial professionals having business relationships with SmartAsset receive no special treatment or consideration in SmartAsset’s reviews. This page contains links to SmartAsset’s financial advisor matching tool, which may or may not match you with the firm mentioned in this review or its financial professionals.

Headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia, Merit Financial Advisors is a fee-based advisory firm that serves both individual and institutional clients across its nine locations. With billions of dollars in assets under management (AUM), Merit made SmartAsset's rankings of the top financial advisors in Alpharetta and the state of Georgia.

Forbes also labeled the firm one of the best in-state wealth advisors in Georgia for 2020. The firm also placed on Forbes' 2019 list of the top 250 wealth advisors in America.

The firm has branch locations in Birmingham, Alabama; Charlotte, North Carolina; Davidson, North Carolina; Frisco, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Sandy Springs, Georgia; Southlake, Texas; and Wilton, Connecticut.

Merit Financial Advisors Background 

Founded in 2007, Merit Financial Advisors is owned by Merit Financial Inc., which is in turn owned by founder and CEO Rick L. Kent. The independent registered investment advisor (RIA) offers services to individuals and companies, and it assists independent advisors through its Registered Investment Advisor Platform.

Advisors at the firm hold a number of professional certifications, including the following designations: certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial consultant (ChFC), registered financial consultants (RFC), chartered financial analyst (CFA), among others. 

Merit Financial Advisors Client Types and Minimum Account Sizes 

Merit Financial Advisors advises non-high-net-worth and high-net-worth individuals, pension and profit-sharing plans, corporations, trusts, estates and charitable organizations. The firm says it may impose an account minimum, depending on the type of services a client selects. 

Services Offered by Merit Financial Advisors

Merit Financial Advisors provides the following advisory services:

  • Portfolio management
  • Financial planning
    • Retirement planning
    • Estate planning
    • Tax planning
    • Debt analysis
    • Insurance analysis
    • Charitable gift planning
    • Education fund planning
  • Pension consulting
  • Selection of other advisors
  • Educational seminars/workshops

Merit Financial Advisors Investment Philosophy

Merit Financial Advisors' website says its investment philosophy is characterized by the following six principles: "humility," "flexibility," "unbiased and objective," "risk margin," "goals in mind" and "patience." The firm heavily relies upon fundamental analysis when evaluating securities, and advisors may employ technical and/or cyclical analysis in its investment process. Merit may use fixed income investments in its portfolio construction, and its investment strategies include long- and short-term purchases, short sales and options trading.

Merit mainly invests in mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), common stocks, individual bonds and variable annuities.

Fees Under Merit Financial Advisors 

Merit Financial Advisors generally charges up to 1.75% of AUM for asset management services. In some cases, though, these fees may be negotiable. Some of the firm’s advisors are registered broker-dealer representatives of LPL Financial, so Merit gives clients the option of participating in LPL Financial’s advisory programs, where annual fees vary up to 2.50%. 

Financial planning services generally come with a flat fee of up to $50,000. For more complex engagements, Merit may charge at an hourly rate of $500 per hour. For the firm’s Merit Compass Program, the firm charges an annual fee of $299. Its retirement plan advisory fees are negotiable and not specified in the Merit’s brochure. The firm says it may charge asset-based, fixed and/or hourly fees for these services.

What to Watch Out For 

Merit Financial Advisors doesn’t have any disclosures listed on its Form ADV.

A number of Merit’s advisors are also licensed broker-dealers or insurance agents, allowing them to earn commissions from certain sales. This can create a potential conflict of interest if these advisors recommend products solely for compensation and not for client suitability. However, Merit has a fiduciary duty, legally binding it to act in clients' best interests.

Opening an Account With Merit Financial Advisors

Feel free to call Merit Financial Advisors at (678) 867-7050 if you're looking to open an account. 

All information is accurate as of the writing of this article.

Tips for Retirement Planning

  • Saving for retirement can be difficult on your own. If you're looking for professional help with your retirement funds, try SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching tool. Through this, you'll connect with up to three local advisors. Get started now.
  • While investing can be an effective way to save for retirement, you can also build your savings by putting your money into a retirement plan. One common retirement plan that lets you save pre-tax money is a 401(k). If your employer doesn’t offer that plan, you should also consider using a traditional IRA or Roth IRA. Our retirement calculator can help you determine whether you’re saving enough for retirement.

How Long $1mm Lasts in Retirement

SmartAsset's interactive map highlights places where $1 million will last the longest in retirement. Zoom between states and the national map to see the top spots in each region. Also, scroll over any city to learn about the cost of living in retirement for that location.

Rank City Housing Expenses Food Expenses Healthcare Expenses Utilities Expenses Transportation Expenses

Methodology We analyzed data on average expenditures for seniors, cost of living and investment returns to determine how many years of retirement a $1 million nest egg would cover in cities across America.

First, we looked at data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on the average annual expenditures of seniors. We then applied cost of living data from the Council for Community and Economic Research to adjust those national average spending levels based on the costs of each expense category (housing, food, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other) in each city. Using this data, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of living for retirees in the largest U.S. cities.

We assumed the $1 million would grow at a real return (interest minus inflation) of 2%. Then, we divided $1 million by the sum of each of those annual numbers to determine how long $1 million would cover retirement expenses in each of the cities in our study. Cities where $1 million lasted the longest ranked the highest in the study.

Sources: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Council for Community and Economic Research