Independent for You

FAQ

Why I chose Emerald Advisors?
The name Emerald Advisors is a nod to the remarkable place I call home, the Emerald City also known as Seattle. I have strong connections here and am proud to live in this great city. The Smith Group is what has organically grown from my years of dedicated service and the extensive experience I gained at my prior firm. People recognize the name as a firm that represents high quality, outstanding service, and attention to detail.
What is an independent financial advisor?
Independent Registered Investment Advisers are professional independent advisory firms that provide personalized financial advice to their clients, many of whom have complex financial needs. Because these advisors are independent, they are not tied to any particular family of funds or investment products. As fiduciaries, they are held to the highest standard of care—and are required to act in the best interests of their clients at all times. They are registered with either the Securities and Exchange Commission or state securities regulators.
What does being a Fiduciary mean and how does it benefit me?
A fiduciary is a professional entrusted to manage assets or wealth while putting the client’s best interests first at all times. Financial advisors who follow a fiduciary standard must disclose any conflict, or potential conflict, to their clients prior to and throughout the advisory engagement. Fiduciaries will also adopt a code of ethics and will fully disclose how they are compensated. Our services will always be about you and never about us, we go above and beyond for our clients.
What separates us from other financial advisors?
A combination of independence, comprehensive service, and client focus sets us apart. As an independent Registered Investment Advisor, we provide the best advice for each client’s specific situation and needs without concerning ourselves with the agenda of a parent company. Our services range from financial planning to investment management to estate planning—we can meet a wide range of needs under one roof. Finally, we are oriented toward providing each client the attention and service they deserve. We treat our clients as individuals and not numbers.
Where is my money kept?
In our advisory role, we never take custody of client assets. We utilize Schwab Institutional, a division of Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., as the custodian of client accounts and as our primary broker. Our relationship with Schwab is an arm’s length transaction with no exchange of funds between Schwab and Emerald Advisors, LLC. When your account is established with Schwab, you provide Emerald Advisors, LLC with limited trading authorization on your account. This authority allows us to process trades directly in client accounts.
How do I transfer assets to Emerald Advisors, LLC?
Typically, we only need a copy of your most recent account statement and your signatures on a few forms. We will take care of setting up your new account and transferring your assets. This transfer will be laid out, step by step for you so that you can see the whole picture and not a mere snapshot.
How will my relationship with The Smith Group change?
If anything, your relationship with the people at The Smith Group is likely to become deeper and more meaningful. In exploring the benefits of independence, it became overwhelmingly clear that we could upgrade, improve and enhance all services that we provide to wealthy families while eliminating the bureaucracy and inefficiencies of working for a large bank.
How do I know my assets are safe?
The safety and security of our clients’ assets is our deepest concern. As a registered investment adviser, we are required to hold all client assets with a third-party custodian. After conducting extensive due diligence, we chose Schwab for their recordkeeping, tax reporting, trading capabilities and website and online support. During the 2008-2009 financial crisis, the Schwab brand was not impacted in the manner that other large investment firms were. Schwab has more than 70 years of experience and currently oversees $6.9 trillion in client assets as one of the largest U.S. custodians.
Will the management of my investments change?
Your investments will continue to be managed with the care and diligence you’ve come to expect from The Smith Group, but with a wider universe of products and services available. As an independent team operating within the Merrill Lynch structure, we traded the various investment portfolios at a local level based on guidance from Merrill Lynch Global Research. As an independent firm, we are able to continue using the superb institutional research of Merrill Lynch, as well as having access to the insights of other top Wall Street firms’ research (Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and others). We are now able to consider thought leadership from around the industry rather than the opinions of only one firm. Seeking the most competitive returns with the least amount of risk and most favorable tax consequences will continue to be of paramount importance.
Will my fee structure change?
As always, clients will pay a percentage fee to engage our team for advice and planning. What will become more obvious are the custody fees which all clients pay, but which were generally not transparent in the past. This increased transparency is just one aspect of our duty to clients as a true fiduciary. The amount of portfolio turnover (i.e., number of trades), which can increase fees, will likely be reduced and only occur on an ‘as needed’ basis. We will continue to focus on minimizing the drag from taxes and transaction fees.
Why did you choose the names Emerald Advisors and The Smith Group Multi Family Office?
I chose the name Emerald Advisors because we are routinely referenced as the being from The Emerald City. And while that is the name under which we are registered, clients have long known us as The Smith Group and that will continue to be our dba. We are moving to a new office, but will remain in Bellevue, WA, just minutes from downtown.
What do you mean when you say The Smith Group acts as a fiduciary?
As an independent registered investment adviser, The Smith Group assumes a legal fiduciary duty to serve our clients’ best interest and disclose material conflicts of interest. We understand that trust, advocacy and transparency are essential to any long-term relationship. As a firm, we want our success to be fully aligned with our clients’ success.
Will there still be regulatory oversight?
As a federally registered investment adviser, we are subject to the fiduciary standard and certain regulatory responsibilities and will be subject to examination by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
What are the next steps?
As the newly-independent Emerald Advisors, LLC and The Smith Group Multi Family Office, we will strive to maintain the utmost integrity, communication and transparency during this mutually beneficial transition over the lifetime of our relationship with you and your family. We will be in touch regarding the documentation required to seamlessly transition your assets. The coordination of your tax, legal and estate planning objectives remain an integral part of our practice and roles as your investment advisors and advocates. We stand dedicated to delivering exceptional personal service, comprehensive financial planning and advice as well as customized solutions.

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