Frequently Asked Questions Speak with an AdvisorWho is Merit and do they follow a Fiduciary Standard? Merit Financial Advisors is a group of like-minded professionals that offer exceptional financial planning services. Merit’s employees prioritize working as a team to maximize their intellectual resources in order to best serve their clients. By always putting the interest of their clients ahead of their own, Merit holds itself to a Fiduciary standard, both contractually with their clients and simply because they believe it is the right way to do business.Who is LPL Financial? LPL Financial is the nation’s largest independent broker dealer*. Merit utilizes LPL’s resources to custody assets on fee-based business or conduct commission business when appropriate. LPL provides a suite of technological services to Merit and its clients; including online access for clients, preparing and sending account statements, and trading software.*As reported in Financial Planning Magazine, 1996-2015, based on total revenue.What is the difference between SIPC and FDIC? All of Merit’s accounts at LPL Financial are backed by either the Securities Investment Protection Corporation or the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.The LPL Financial SIPC Membership provides account protection up to a maximum of $500,000 per customer, of which $250,000 may be claims for cash. An explanatory brochure is available at www.sipc.org. Additionally, through London Insurers, LPL Financial accounts have additional securities protection to cover the net equity of customer accounts up to an overall aggregate firm limit of $575,000,000 subject to conditions and limitations. The account protection applies when an SIPC member firm fails financially and is unable to meet obligations to securities clients, but it does not protect against losses from the rise and fall in the market value of investments.FDIC insurance covers all deposit accounts, including checking and savings accounts, money market deposit accounts and certificates of deposit. FDIC insurance does not cover other financial products and services that banks may offer, such as stocks, bonds, mutual fund shares, life insurance policies, annuities or securities. The standard insurance amount is $250,000 per depositor, per insured bank, for each account ownership category. The FDIC provides separate coverage for deposits held in different account ownership categories. Depositors may qualify for more coverage if they have funds in different ownership categories and all FDIC requirements are met. (For details on the requirements, go to (www.fdic.gov/deposit/deposits). The Insured Cash Account (ICA) insures a client's cash for up to $1,500,000 for individuals and trust accounts and $3,000,000 for joint accounts.What does it mean to be an independent RIA? As an Independent Registered Investment Advisor, Merit is capable of doing business with almost any financial institution in the world. Merit does not favor one set of investments or products over another when constructing portfolios and making recommendations to their clients. Being “independent” means Merit is free to choose the options that best suit their clients. In addition, Merit is not affiliated with any proprietary products.How do I know my personal identifiable information is secure? Merit takes great pride in making sure all personal information is kept safe. Merit will not share personal information with a third party unless given the appropriate written consent. At times, this may be inconvenient. For example, a spouse cannot take a distribution form an IRA without the correct power of attorney or documentation.To further protect clients’ personal information, Merit utilizes a cloud-based operating system provided by Citrix. None of our clients’ information is stored on a local drive. This means that even if a computer is lost, stolen or disposed of, there is no personal information on the system that can be stolen.How do Merit’s fees work? Merit is paid by charging a fee directly to a client or receiving a commission from an investment or insurance company. In all situations, a client will receive a full disclosure of fees prior to entering into a management or a business agreement with Merit. When a client is charged a fee, it is typically based on a percentage of assets Merit is managing for that client. In this arrangement, a client does not pay more or less based on the activity that takes places in the account; rather the entire fee arrangement is based on the value of the account. With fee based asset management, Merit’s revenue correlates with the value of the account. Merit believes that a fee based arrangement best aligns its financial interests with those of a client. The large majority of Merit’s business is fee based, however Merit utilizes commission-based products when they are in a client’s best interest.Financial planning is included in the fees our clients pay us for managing their assets. If a client would like to receive financial planning services without having Merit manage assets, the clients will be charged a flat fee for that service. The most popular service Merit offers as a flat fee is the Merit Compass service.