How we work together

1. Get acquainted call

 

First, call or send an email. A member of our team will schedule a complimentary 20-30 minute “getting acquainted" call with us. We’ll ask you a lot of questions about your situation and, together, we’ll figure out if we’re a fit for each other. If we both agree, we’ll schedule a Strategy Session.

 

2. Strategy

Based on what we talk about in our call, we’ll discuss your three biggest financial questions. A few key recommendations from an expert can help you reach your goals faster with less stress.

Everyone has their own issues, but typical questions include:

  • I want to switch careers to something I think I will enjoy a lot more. Can I do what I love and still retire at 65?

  • Am I on track to retire at 65? What about 55?

  • My spouse and I max out our 401(k)s and still save more. How should we do that and pay the least in taxes over our lifetimes?

  • I just received an inheritance. How should I invest it? How much of it can I spend?

  • Am I saving enough for my child’s education? 

  • Will my current investment strategy create enough money for me to retire?

  • Do I have adequate life insurance?

  • Is the life insurance policy I’ve got a rip off?

  • Is retiring early an option for me?

  • I earn company stock or options.  Can you help me understand them and create a strategy that helps me optimize what I earn while minimizing my risk of losing money?

  • Will you give me a second opinion on my current investment strategy? I’m not sure if what I have makes sense. 

  • I want to take a year off. What should I do with my condo? Will it ruin me for retirement?

  • I’m becoming a partner in my law firm. Can you help me figure out estimated taxes?


This meeting lasts 90 minutes and includes a 30 day follow-up period where if you need additional clarification on what we’ve talked about, we are available by phone and email.

The Strategy Session costs $1495, which could be tax deductible. After the hour and a half Strategy Session meeting, please set aside an hour in case it makes sense to talk about working together on an on-going basis.  If you sign up for a Standard Retainer within two weeks of your Strategy Session, the full cost will be applied to the retainer.

3. Standard open retainer

When we work together on an open retainer, we systematically go through every area of your finances.  For one sometimes tax-deductible fee, we develop a comprehensive plan and mental vision of your financial future. 

With most clients, in the first year we meet 2-3 times either in person, or on the phone and Internet. We go over every area of your finances. When we work together on an Open Retainer, we cover the following topics:    


Retirement + Education funding


We believe that it’s important to make this is simple as possible so that you understand the assumptions, variables and results of this planning. We return to this yearly. As you understand the methodology, your peace of mind grows because you know that your long-term goals are being attended to.

Investment strategy


Our philosophy is to invest for the long term and take risk that is appropriate given your life situation, attitude, and time frame.Together we do a personal risk assessment to help you understand the true risks you face. Next, we create an investment strategy together. Then, we periodically review your situation to make sure you stay on track. 
 

Principal residence / real estate analysis


For most clients, their principal residence is the single biggest investment that they make. We look at how your principal residence is working with your entire investment strategy. We analyze real estate investments. So, if you own a two flat or an apartment building, we go over the rent you should be charging, the return you should be getting, and the pluses and minuses of selling. We give unbiased advice because I'm not selling real estate or stocks.
 

Tax preparation


Taxes are often your biggest expenses.  Our goal is to make sure you're taking every deduction legally available so that you pay the least amount of tax possible. We look at your previous 3 years returns and can file amended returns to correct errors on previous returns and to claim overlooked deductions.  We believe that competent tax preparation is an integral part of your finances, so we make sure that they're done right. 
 

Tax planning


Together we look at your tax situation during the year, not after the year is over. We help you plan for deductions and investments while there is still time to implement the strategies. Because we work with both with tax and investments, we can provide integrated tax investment strategies to help you make more on your investments and pay less in taxes. 
 

Insurance review


For many people, working with us is the first time they have gotten any insurance advice from someone not trying to sell them products. Together we look at each of your insurance policies and answer two questions to help you save money while reducing your risk exposure.
 

Goal setting


Financial peace of mind is an emotional and, for some, a spiritual state. Together we address progress needed to reach your goals. This helps you:

 

  • Understand your financial goals 

  • Test them against reality 

  • Engage your imagination and visualize what you want. 
     

Estate planning


We explain the tax consequences of dying and help you plan your will and your legacy.  We review wills, powers of attorney and other estate documents to make sure they work with the other elements of your financial plan.  If you don't have an attorney to draft a will, we can recommend one.

In addition to our meetings, working with me also includes: 
 

Open retainer


You can call or email whenever you have financial questions, and if necessary, we can set up additional appointments at no additional cost to you. I want to make sure that all of your questions are answered and all of your concerns are resolved. 


Audit protection


If a tax return I prepared gets audited, we will represent you in front of the IRS at no additional fee. You can rest assured that we stand behind my work and you won’t have to go face-to-face with the IRS. 

How our fees work

We Are Only Paid by You. No One Else.

 

This means that everything we suggest serves to benefit you, and you only. Our sole motivation is your success — not a commission.  

 

What It Costs:

Strategy Session

 

The one-time investment for this service is $1,495, and, if you choose to work with us, we will credit this initial investment toward your first-year fee. If you feel we haven't answered your 3 biggest questions, we’ll give you your money back – no questions asked.

Ongoing Services

 

If you sign up within two weeks of their Financial Strategy Session, the cost of your Strategy Session is applied to the Standard Retainer in full.

We charge an annual advisory fee based on your marketable net worth, the amount of work required, and our ability to provide value. The minimum fee is $5,500 which is for basic situations and people just starting out.  Most fees are higher.  Before engaging work with any client, we fully explain the costs and potential benefits of working together.

The annual fee covers all meetings, phone calls, and other communication. This is an open-ended agreement that you may terminate at any time.

We'd love the opportunity to connect.
Call or email us.

The first thing we do when you contact us is simply find out a little bit more about you and the issues that you're facing. If it makes sense to talk further, then we set up an appointment to get to know one another. While we’ll ask you to about your finances, all of our conversations and your information is private and confidential.

Sullivan Mermel, Inc.

3744 N. Southport Unit G

Chicago, IL 60613

Ph. 773-404-9344
Fax: 773-327-1461

© 2020 Bridget Sullivan Mermel

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