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Mercer Global Advisors Review 2022

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Mercer Global Advisors is a national investment advisory firm, with offices located across the U.S., including its Denver headquarters. Mercer Global Advisors primarily serves individual investors (including high net worth individuals), providing a suite of wealth management and financial planning services.

The bottom line: Mercer Global Advisors is a wealth management and financial planning firm with locations across the U.S. that has varying minimum fees depending on the service.

  • Offers a focus on women and wealth
  • Provides tax preparation services
  • Publishes transparent fee schedules

All information included in this profile is accurate as of May 9, 2022. For more information, please consult Mercer Global Advisors’ website.

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Overview of Mercer Global Advisors

Mercer Global Advisors was founded in 1985 by Kendrick Mercer, a lawyer whose practice focused on estate planning for professionals and families. When his clients needed more services than the drafting of wills, trusts and estate plans, he opened the firm’s doors, a planning-focused, independent registered investment advisory firm.

The firm is headquartered in Denver with offices nationwide. Since its founding, the firm has made numerous acquisitions of other registered investment advisory firms.

At present, the firm has over 600 employees in total, with nearly 300 who perform investment advisory functions. Employees at the firm hold certifications including the certified financial planner (CFP), certified financial analyst (CFA) and certified public accountant (CPA) designations.

A look at the founder of Mercer Global Advisors

Founder Kendrick Mercer’s story is the classic rags to riches tale. He was abandoned by his parents as a child and brought up in bleak conditions, but he overcame early adversity to graduate from college, then law school and then become a partner at a law firm. But that wasn’t enough for him.

First he opened his own law firm, and then he transitioned the firm into the advisory company that still exists today. Mercer also founded a personal growth company called the Garden Company, located in Sandpoint, Idaho.

Mercer Global Advisors’ pros

  • Full suite of family office services: The firm offers estate planning as well as in-house tax preparation and planning, alongside typical investment management firm services, positioning itself as a one-stop shop for high net worth individuals and families.
  • Competitive fees: The firm offers clients competitive pricing. Its rates for wealth management start at 1.10% for the first $1 million and drop down to 0.50% for amounts over $10 million. For comparison, the standard annual fee among investment advisory firms ranges from 0.50% to 1.25%, a range that Mercer Global Advisors is well within.
  • Award-winning firm: The firm has received recognition from a number of entities. Four women advisors were named to the 2022 Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors list. Barron’s ranked the firm No. 8 RIA in America in 2021. Financial Times also listed it among the top 300 registered investment advisors in the U.S. in 2020.
  • Focus on women: The firm is dedicated to serving women investors and their unique needs. Women who work with the firm have the option to opt for a woman advisor if they prefer.

Mercer Global Advisors’ cons

  • Potential conflict of interest related to insurance sales: While current employees of the firm don’t sell insurance to clients, firms that are acquired by Mercer Global Advisors who have employees with insurance licenses may receive commission-based compensation for selling clients insurance, which can pose a conflict of interest.
  • Potential conflict of interest regarding securities products: Mercer has some employees who are registered representatives of various brokers. They can sell securities to clients and earn commissions as registered representatives of these separate firms. Mercer notes in its Form ADV that clients are never under any obligation to use the services of these employees.
  • Pays for client referrals: Mercer has referral agreements with other companies, including MagnifyMoney, wherein the firm pays these companies for referring clients to them. These referrals will not impact the fees clients pay the firm. However, if you are referred to Mercer Global Advisors, it’s important to do your due diligence to determine if the firm is truly appropriate for your needs.

What types of clients does Mercer Global Advisors serve?

For the most part, Mercer caters to individuals and high net worth individuals, defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as someone with at least $750,000 under management or net worth of at least $1.5 million.

The firm’s minimum account size varies depending on the service provided. For instance, the Ascend Group, which is billed as the firm’s “premium wealth management offering,” is typically recommended for those with at least $10 million, while the firm’s wealth management services are geared towards those with at least $1 million. Wealth Path, which includes both investment management and financial planning, is for those with under $1 million.

Clients who wish to use alternative investment strategies (read: private funds) offered by Mercer must meet minimum investment requirements determined by the SEC. With private fund investing, the SEC defines three common types of investors: qualified purchasers, qualified clients and accredited investors, with the differences between the three generally relating to the investor’s net worth or how much money they have under management. The type of fund structure will determine the types of investors allowed.

Services offered by Mercer Global Advisors

Mercer offers a wide range of services and markets itself as a multidisciplinary registered investment advisor and total wealth management firm. With its roster of CFPs, CPAs, CFAs and attorneys, the company is able to offer portfolio management, financial planning, retirement planning and family office services, such as in-house estate planning and tax planning and preparation.

In addition to investment advisory services and financial planning services, the firm hosts a podcast called The Science of Economic Freedom, which educates listeners on wealth management topics based on the firm’s “science-based, technical expertise.” The firm also provides financial education resources geared toward women, as well as the option for potential female clients to speak with a female advisor.

Below is the full suite of Mercer Global Advisors services:

  • Investment advisory services (discretionary and non-discretionary)
    • Tax management
  • Financial planning
    • Budgeting and saving plans
    • Education plans (529 plans and others)
    • Retirement planning
    • Trust and estate planning
    • Charitable and philanthropic goals and implementation
    • Gifting strategies
    • Intergenerational wealth education
    • End-of-life planning
    • Guardianship of underage children
    • Asset stewardship
    • Insurance review
  • Tax planning and preparation
  • Corporate trustee service
  • Selection of other advisors
  • Financial education and seminars
  • Publication of periodicals/newsletters

How Mercer Global Advisors invests your money

When constructing a portfolio for a client, the firm will first establish client investment objectives, risk tolerance, financial goals and other relevant information in order to inform the selection of strategies to use, then customizes an investment portfolio specific to each client.

In general, Mercer uses broad asset class and multi-factor diversification as protection against concentrated risk, along with systematic rebalancing, tax and distribution management and an emphasis on low expense ratios. Additionally, as the firm is a signatory to the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment, its advisors strive to meet the principles outlined therein, namely incorporating environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into its investment decisions.

The firm has a 16-member investment strategy team that oversees all investment research, policies, portfolios and managers. The following is a list of different investing strategies Mercer advisors may employ to meet client goals:

Mercer Global Advisors Investment Strategies
Total Return, Socially Responsible, & Income Strategies
Market Series Program Focused on low-cost, global diversification; uses any combination of mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or separate accounts
Multifactor Series Program Uses academic research to build portfolios that combine low-cost, global asset class diversification and diversification within targeted asset classes
SRI Impact Series Program  Invests in line with clients’ values, offering diversification through low-cost environmental, social and governance (ESG) funds, ETFs and separate accounts
Income Series Program   Aims to maximize income while maintaining potential for capital growth; emphasizes high-dividend-paying stocks and high-yield bonds
SMA Program & Custom UMA Program
Separately Managed Accounts (SMA) Program Allows clients to invest in any number of approved separate account solutions, including for equities, fixed income, real estate, MLPs, preferred stocks and covered call writing
Custom Unified Managed Account (UMA) Program  Allows clients to build customized portfolios using any combination of approved separate account solutions, mutual funds and/or ETFs

In addition to the above programs, Mercer Global Advisors  also offers no-load annuity models. It also offers a number of alternative investment strategies for clients who are high net worth.

Fees Mercer Global Advisors charges for its services

Mercer Global Advisors’ fees for its investment management services are based on a percentage of assets under management. While there are published fee schedules (see below) that outline the rates that clients are charged based on their account size, the firm reserves the right to negotiate the investment management fee and may make exceptions to its fee schedule on a case-by-case basis.

Assets under managementFee

Mercer Global Advisors Fees: Ascend Group* 
First $1 million 1.10%
Next $1 million 1.00%
Next $3 milion 0.90%
Next $5 million 0.75%
Over $10 million 0.50%
*Intended for those with $10 million+; minimum fee of $75,000 generally required
Mercer Global Advisors Fees: Wealth Management Services*
First $1 million 1.10%
Next $1 million 1.00%
Next $3 milion 0.90%
Next $5 million 0.75%
Over $10 million 0.50%
*Intended for those with $1 million+; minimum fee of $6,000 generally required
Mercer Global Advisors Fees: Wealth Path* (Investment Management + Financial Planning)
First $1 million 1.10%
Next $1 million 1.00%
Next $3 milion 0.90%
Next $5 million 0.75%
Over $10 million 0.50%
*Intended for those with under $1 million; minimum fee of $2,400 generally required
Mercer Global Advisors Fees: Guided Investing (Investment Management Only)
First $1 million 1.10%
Next $1 million 1.00%
Next $3 milion 0.90%
Next $5 million 0.75%
Over $10 million 0.50%
*Minimum fee of $800 generally required

Clients should expect separate and additional fees for third-party sub-advisors to provide investment advisory services, as well as fees for institutional mutual funds, accumulation units, unified managed accounts and separate accounts, among other fees.

In some instances, Mercer Global Advisors will offer financial planning, tax planning and tax return preparation on a standalone basis. Financial planning is offered at a rate of $1,500 per quarter, though this rate can vary depending on the complexity of the relationship, or at an hourly rate of $250. Fees for tax-related services are negotiable. For clients with at least $1.5 million under the firm’s management, estate planning services are included.

Mercer Global Advisors disciplinary disclosures

Mercer Global Advisors does not have any disciplinary events to disclose on its Form ADV, a document that registered investment firms are required to file with the SEC. When a registered investment firm or its employees or affiliates face any civil, criminal or regulatory actions, the SEC requires the firm to disclose that information for potential clients to evaluate.

For more information on Mercer Global Advisors, visit its Investment Adviser Public Disclosure (IAPD) page.

Mercer Global Advisors onboarding process

  1. Contact the firm: Potential clients can initiate a relationship with Mercer Global Advisors by setting up an introductory call, either using the firm’s online appointment scheduler, calling the firm directly at 888-565-1681, emailing at [email protected] or filling out the contact form provided below the scheduler on its website.
  2. Review your finances with an advisor and get a plan: The next step is to review your personal finances with an advisor. The Mercer Global Advisors team will discuss your financial goals, values and motivations to craft a customized financial plan. The plan may include a proposed budget, a customized investment and tax strategy and an insurance review, as well as a number of other components, depending on your needs.
  3. Receive regular reviews and support: After the plan is initiated, clients will receive performance reviews and ongoing support on a regular basis. Clients receive quarterly performance reports. Investment management clients should have at least one annual meeting, and family office clients can expect to have up to four annual meetings. Clients also have access to portals where they can review their accounts on a regular basis.

Where Mercer Global Advisors is located

Mercer Global Advisors has over 60 branch locations throughout the U.S. Specifically, it has offices in the following states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Is Mercer Global Advisors right for you?

Mercer Global Advisors positions itself as a comprehensive wealth management and financial planning firm, with its minimums for varying services geared towards a range of clients. For those who wish to work with a firm with a nationwide presence that offers many more services than portfolio management, Mercer Global Advisors may be a solid choice.

With the firm’s roster of CPAs and other professionals, clients have the option to use in-house tax preparation and planning services, along with financial planning and investment management offerings. There’s also a focus on women clients and their specific needs. Additionally, for clients who enjoy financial education, Mercer Global Advisors offers several options, including its podcast and blog. Before you make your decision, be sure to research multiple firms to ensure you find the right advisor for you.

The “Find a Financial Advisor” links contained in this article will direct you to webpages devoted to MagnifyMoney Advisor (“MMA”). After completing a brief questionnaire, you will be matched with certain financial advisers who participate in MMA’s referral program, which may or may not include the investment advisers discussed.