WelcomeAt POH, we find ourselves in a different position than most other advisory groups. Rather than trying to be “everything to be everyone,” we pride ourselves on being the right team for an impressive circle of discerning, self-made individuals and generations of their families.
Whom do we serve?
A loyal and growing clientele that shares entrepreneurial mindset. They include owners of family-owned businesses (including many government contractors), as well as C-suite executives residing in the Washington D.C. area and 15 other states.
What differentiates our clients is what defines our focus:
Most of the people we serve have experienced or will experience a major liquidity event – the kind that often happens “once in a lifetime.” Given the serious nature of these events, we have developed a strong skillset in formulating strategies that help clients preserve their assets with an eye toward tax-efficient growth and consistent cash flow. The intensive planning that goes into the formation of these strategies starts well in advance of the actual event, ideally, at least one year prior.
Due to the close nature of our client relationships, we have structured our team to maintain a “coaching mentality.” Doing so allows us to educate and inspire best practices by our clients. However, experience tells us that the quality of our advice is only as effective as the questions we ask. That’s why we dig deep to help clients articulate and answer, “What is the real purpose of your wealth? What are your plans for your next season? And, when everything falls into place, will you be spending time with family and friends, traveling the world, or launching your next entrepreneurial opportunity?””
Each of us is privileged to be a trustworthy and proactive steward of clients’ wealth and wellbeing – as it moves across stages of careers, multiple generations and charitable pursuits. Ultimately, we judge ourselves not by the assets we manage, but by the lives we touch.
Company Founders, Private Business Owners & Entrepreneurs
When you have built your own business, your personal finances and the life of your company are closely intertwined. You may be thinking about how to invest in your company’s growth while also deciding how best to use your personal assets. Helping ensure the future of your business likely involves employee benefits, retirement plans and succession planning. Helping secure your family’s legacy could entail wealth transfer strategies, trusts and philanthropy. Whatever your specific needs, we at Merrill Private Wealth Management can help entrepreneurs and business owners balance their personal financial lives with their life’s work. We are dedicated in providing the experience and resources to help support your ongoing success.
We understand the complexities that come with your executive position and the extreme demands on your time. We can help you develop a customized strategy that your finances and compensation require. We can help with risk management strategies for your concentrated stock position while navigating complex SEC rules, trading restrictions and reporting requirements. If you’ve just been promoted and would like help evaluating your new compensation plan, or if you’re looking to develop a long-term financial strategy for you and your family — designed to enable you to live life as you want it, with reliable access to cash — we can help simplify your financial life, as well as develop new strategies as your career and goals evolve.
Intergenerational Family Wealth
As a family that spans multiple generations, you have needs that go beyond preserving assets, tax minimization strategies and designating heirs. Your goals also likely include passing on values and helping the next generation become effective stewards. We can help with personalized wealth transfer strategies, family wealth education and developing and implementing philanthropic visions. In working with you to create an approach that reflects your family’s intentions and helps ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, we proceed in a manner that recognizes the complexities of your life challenges and the unique nature of your goals. Our extensive experience working with other families of significant wealth helps us to see and share best practices to help you achieve them.
Navigating TransitionsAt POH, many of our business-owner clients are about to go from Friday being "The Man or Woman in Charge” to Monday, being at home. Others have already sold their companies or retired after a long corporate career.
If you fit either description above, we would define your transition as three distinct stages:
Ending. Neutral Zone. Beginning.
Of course, “Ending” can be voluntary – the sale of your business or retirement from your executive position at a public company. Or it can be involuntary, such as an illness or death in your family. The point is that your life is going to change. Our role during this phase of the transition is to help you prepare for the change both financially and mentally based on our experience.
Once the "Ending" occurs, you enter what we call the “Neutral Zone” – an “in-between” time when the old is gone, but the new isn’t fully operational. This is a period for you to evaluate where you are and what life may hold in store. Because you and your family have a special set of requirements and interests, the length of time spent in the The Neutral Zone varies from family to family.
Think of your “Beginning” stage as “Your Next Season.” From this point on, you’ll be curious and enthusiastic as you head in new directions and seek to establish a new role or purpose. What part will you play in your family, community and the world? How will you contribute and participate with optimal joy and effectiveness?
And what role do we play?
As mentioned in a previous section, our coaching mentality is at the heart of our approach. We’ve coached dozens of families to prepare for and through their Next Season. Among other things, we share stories of what has worked and hasn’t worked for other families in similar situations – as they’ve successfully navigated their transitions.
We should add that we find it critical for you, our client, to engage us early in the process. This allows for us to help you build a “transition coaching staff” that would include your CPA, Trust and Estate Attorney and others. With our team offering coordination and leadership, your other trusted advisors can more easily provide their knowledge and know-how.
Purposeful PlanningGiven the heritage of POH and the generations of clients we serve, it’s natural for us to view financial matters from a multi-generational perspective. We are inspired by our families' stories of financial and personal achievement.
While most of our clients own mature businesses, we see others as “incubator families” whose enterprises will eventually hatch. Both groups can benefit significantly from our pre and post-event planning. These successful, financially astute individuals know that preparation is everything and that doing it early is the best way to allow for positive outcomes.
At the outset of each relationship, our primary objective is to identify a family’s “Purpose of Wealth.” We begin with a question that leads to multiple considerations:
“How does your wealth translate into paying the bills?”
To help families' answer that question, we delineate recurring expenses (such as their mortgage, utilities, food, etc.) and non-recurring expenses such as the purchase of a beach house. We refer to these one off big purchases as "Recurring, Non-Recurring Expenses". You probably won't buy a second beach house but next year the big expense could be taking your extended family on a two week cruise.
“What can you afford?”
Leaving wealth for the next generation is something clients often plan to do, in addition to gifting to charity. But how much is enough or too much? Families don’t want their money ruining her kids or to give away too much and compromise their future lifestyle. They may ask, “Are there ways to transfer wealth prior to the sale of my business? And how can I make sure that I pass along wealth and wisdom to the next generation?”
To help clients explore their Purpose of Wealth, we help them consider a range of possibilities in three categories: Grow and Sustain Wealth. Enjoy Wealth. Steward Wealth.
From there, we help prioritize the possibilities as “essential, important or aspirational.” That beach house would fall under “Enjoy” and be “Important or Aspirational.” Leaving wealth to the next generation and charity would fall under "Steward.” Of course, charitable giving could be seen as “essential” to some families while “important” to others. The matrix we create allows us to start building a plan to achieve the various "Purpose" goals based on the goal's priority.
We also remind clients to leave memories, not just money – that it’s important to find joy along the path to meaningful outcomes. In these conversations, we ask what clients may define as their life’s most rewarding moments to date.
Exceptional CareAt POH, we like to say: “Clients need us before they think they do. And long after, as well.”
Rather than bring you, our client, what other advisors define as service, we are devoted to providing an “experience” that extends far beyond a typical service model:
• NO voice-activated menus.
• NO delayed response times.
• NO awkward moments, when we struggle to recall our latest conversation with you.
Each of us is prepared and ready when you need us – with an authentic appreciation of who you are, where you stand, and how we can stand behind you. Additionally, our entire team knows you by name and voice. Our sole purpose is to care for you and your family. When the time is right, we would invite you to speak with our current clients and ask about the personal care they receive from us.
Rather than follow a script, we can deliver consistent value, by:
• Providing a coaching style for families, based on what we learn about their particular hopes and fears. Together with each family, we can help ease the steps of their journey, sharing stories, when appropriate, from other families we assisted previously.
• Exploring the wealth dynamics of each family, by asking, “How will this transition impact relationships with family, friends and coworkers?” In more specific terms, “How will this money affect your family – positively and negatively?” By appreciating the values of our client families, we also make it our business to educate their children about managing wealth and its responsibilities.
• Not subscribing to the typical construct of “what you have and where you want to go.” With a series of more granular discussions inspiring our efforts, an integrated strategy is crafted around what you describe as your most cherished goals and urgent concerns.
• Helping clients think clearly and deliberately – so that the myriad of financial decisions are not triggered by emotion. Rather, our intent is that they be based on the mutually agreed-upon financial foundation we put in place.
Ultimately, our success hinges upon helping clients identify their “Purpose of Wealth.” From our continuum of care, we can help clients find fulfillment and satisfaction during and after a well-deserved transition.
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