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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 is the No. 1 firm on SmartAsset's rankings of the top financial advisors in Alpharetta.

The firm has branch locations in Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. 

Merit Financial Advisors Background 

Founded in 2007 by CEO Rick L. Kent, Merit Financial Advisors is owned by Merit Financial Group, LLC. 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 consultant (RFC), accredited estate planner (AEP), 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. Merit may also allocate your assets to portfolios offered through LPL Financial, which may require a minimum account size ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on the model portfolio you're in. 

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
    • Cost segregation study
    • Real estate analysis
    • Lines of credit evaluation
  • Pension consulting
  • Selection of other advisors (including private fund managers)
  • 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, preservation, risk margin, diversification and independence. 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), individual stocks and bonds, as well as variable annuities.

Fees Under Merit Financial Advisors 

Merit Financial Advisors generally charges up to 2.50% of AUM for direct 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 also range up to 2.50%. 

Financial planning services generally come with a flat fee of up to $80,000. Merit may also provide financial planning on an hourly rate basis. For the firm’s Merit Compass Program – which includes an analysis of your employer's benefits package  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. 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

  • Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can have a free introductory call with your advisor matches to decide which one you feel is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now. Saving for retirement can be difficult on your own. 
  • While investing in a taxable brokerage account 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