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Meeting the financial and organizational needs of women (and men) before, throughout and after the divorce process, Megan Stirrat has built a growing reputation for her “sensible and sensitive” approach, her invaluable guidance, and her ability to connect clients with others who can help.
Working with clients in California and out-of-state – and with professionals including therapists, attorneys and accountants – Megan has become a sought-after speaker at divorce care workshops nationwide and a key resource for many who benefit from her advice, even before becoming clients.
Megan finds tremendous fulfillment assisting clients at this challenging time in their lives. Educating them on “what they own and owe,” she begins by listening closely. In some cases, she saves clients time and money by offering direction that helps organize their affairs before meeting with an attorney. In other instances, Megan assists clients who’ve completed the divorce process plan for the road ahead – creating new budgets and educating them on how their lives might need to change: whether selling a home is wise, when and whether to return to the workplace, and often, helping them achieve a needed life balance for parent and child.
Megan further explains the need to balance what should be a conservative asset allocation with the opportunity for growth. “Not growing is not an option,” says Megan. “So we create what I call ‘diversified sources of income’ – from bonds, dividend-paying high-quality stocks, annuities, pensions and spousal support, when it exists. The goal is a solid portfolio that isn’t compromised by market volatility. Clients have enough stress in their lives. They need a solid wealth management strategy that can provide predicable income with the potential for growth. A part of each plan, I put measures in place to prevent ‘spending through their money’ or ‘healing through splurging.’ It’s gratifying to get clients moving toward where they need to go, taking as little risk as possible.”
For many clients, their children’s wellbeing is a major concern, as are their questions, including: Will too much salary affect alimony? And, Is selling investments before or after divorce the best option? “I’m not a lawyer or accountant, but I understand much of what clients need to know. Of course, retirement is always a looming concern for all clients. There, I help ensure that necessary funds will be there later,” adds Megan.
Recognizing the value of education and being clear at a time when much of life is not, Megan helps clients appreciate components in their portfolio and explains – in simple terms – the complex role that investments play. In guiding individuals through significant transitions in life, including retirement and divorce, Megan recognizes that her clients changing and complex financial pictures include many legal and emotional components. But, as Megan points out, “Most attorneys are not financial experts – and most accountants aren’t knowledgeable about the effects of divorce. That’s why I work in both areas, creating strategies that minimize capital gains or tax ramifications.
Especially valued by those who need a trusted financial advisor when “trust” is hard to come by, Megan feels privileged to serve as a confidential resource and a stabilizing influence. “What I help clients do is relax and take the right steps – to live comfortably now and build the right financial strategy, one that will see them through retirement.”
Having completed training in the financial issues of divorce through the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts™,” Megan earned her “divorce designation” in 2006 as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®).
Most valuable to clients, however, is Megan’s personal devotion to them and the significant time she spends helping sort through their current situation, challenges and options. Beginning often by “examining cardboard boxes with clients’ financial lives inside,” Megan invests her energy and experience to create a starting point and next steps for each of them.
Regardless of the stage of divorce, Megan plays a valuable role for clients, serving as an integral member of their divorce team (often their quarterback) by working and connecting them with attorneys, mediators, therapists, real estate agents and more. Megan also leads monthly “Suddenly Single” workshops and quarterly “What Women Need to Know About Divorce” seminars.
Megan joined Merrill Lynch in 1999 after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Political Economics from Michigan State University, where she was a member of the women’s crew team that competed in the NCAA Championships. A “loyal and loud” Spartans fan, Megan served for many years as President of the Michigan State University Orange County Alumni Club. She is also a former board member of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. When she “relaxes,” Megan enjoys spending time with her husband, Mark, and their three children.
Michigan State University
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1Investment products are offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.
2Banking products are offered by Bank of America, N.A.
3Insurance and annuity products offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.
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