All About Megan Marotta Russell, CFP®, APMA®

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I am pleased to announce that our newest CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional at Marotta Wealth Management is me!

We like to announce when we have a new certification in the firm, and I normally write these articles celebrating the team member. However, this time the announcement is for me. My team was in agreement: an article should be written. However, who should write it? We like to joke that you can tell a small business owner because he or she is the person changing the light bulbs or cleaning the parking lot. These uncommon responsibilities don’t fit anyone else’s job description, but someone should do them. In that fashion, it has come to pass that I’m writing my own article.

As the daughter of David Marotta, I’ve always been a part of Marotta Wealth Management. I like to say that a good job needs at least two of these three things: good pay, good hours, and respect. At Marotta, we strive to have all three by fairly compensating our employees, allowing them to set their own hours, and having a flat hierarchy where everyone’s opinions are valued. However, for immediate family, the hours can never be good.

My father and I both love what we do, so anytime we see one another there is an opportunity for work to join us. Article ideas are born while playing with my daughter. New financial planning is realized while making Thanksgiving sides. Family and financial planning are intertwined for me, and they always have been.

I remember being interested in finance right around the time that my father started authoring a weekly financial column. The thrift, frugality, and budgeting principles attracted me first. However, I really got into finance because of computer programming.

Megan Russell

Chief Operating Officer, CFP®, APMA®

I’m the only FinTech employee here at Marotta Wealth Management. At a young age, I learned website design. My first business was freelance web and graphic design work. In college, I majored in Cognitive Science, selecting my concentrations so that it was a Formal Logic degree of classes in Philosophy and Computer Science.

My first title at the firm was “Systems Analyst.” It is a borrowed term from the engineering disciplines that means that I identify problems that we have in the firm and invent procedures to solve them. My first full-time job at Marotta was programming our proprietary backoffice systems. A few years after I finished coding the first release, I was promoted to “Chief Operating Officer” and given the task of formalizing all the procedures we use for each of our services and administrative tasks.

Unlike many of our other hires, who joined our firm through our hiring partnership with the Virginia Tech Financial Planning Association, I didn’t know from the beginning that I wanted to be a financial planner. I was interested in being a writer or a computer programmer and found my home at Marotta Wealth Management with those tasks. Gradually through those tasks, I fell in love with the financial planning, the math, the science, and relational work of wealth management. It wasn’t until I had over a decade of financial planning under my belt that I realized I should pursue some financial credentials.

The CFP® certification is the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. In order to even sit for the CFP® exam, you need to have already satisfied the Education requirement by taking a qualified education program.

It was easy to delay starting this process while raising a family and working full time. However throughout 2022, I finally satisfied the Education requirement by taking the College for Financial Planning’s CFP® Certification Professional Education Program and was able to sit for the exam in March 2023, passing the six-hour exam on the first try.

While I was preparing for the exam, my father gifted me a key chain which he had purchased while studying for his own CFP® exam. It is a simple thing that reads, “The only way to pass the test, is to take the test.” It was a nice reminder that sitting down and doing the work was the only way to do the work.

With over a decade of experience behind me, I’m grateful to finally be a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

An Interview with Megan

What is your favorite Marotta Wealth Management service?

It has to be Tax Planning. I literally wrote the program that does this and am very proud of the customized systematic Roth conversion recommendations that it produces.

What is your favorite part of being with Marotta Wealth Management?

The job has a bit of everything. I write over 100 articles each year. I maintain and upgrade the computer programming for our backoffice systems. I use algebra to create novel financial planning principles. I use Excel to model unique tax plans. I get to directly answer reader and client questions. It is extroverted and introverted. It is creative and logical. I love it.

What is your favorite Marotta Wealth Management article or series? Why?

David and my 2015 series “The Complete Guide to Creating an Investment Plan” has a special place in my heart. I wrote the original articles after training under my father for 6 years. I remember pitching the idea to him as, “Let’s see if I can summarize what you’ve taught me.” I wrote the first draft and he edited it. It was also early enough in the foundation of our website’s articles that it helped to solidify our website’s culture as completely transparent with no secret sauce. Later, I compiled all the individual articles into the shorter summary linked above.

I remember thinking that the first article of that series, “Your Asset Allocation Should Be Priceless,” was groundbreaking financial planning that no one else had ever written at the time. Indeed, the idea that there may be a mathematical answer to asset allocation design is still fairly unique.

What advice do you give to those who are just getting started with investing?

Do you have earned income? Open a Roth IRA right now and put $1 in.

There is no additional analysis required for that to be good advice.

Megan’s Latest Articles

A Closer Look at Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT)
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The 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT) is a Medicare contribution tax on investment income.

#TBT Three Reasons To Engage In Gift Giving
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The holiday cliché is to complain about hyper-materialism, but according to anthropologists, gifts and gift giving help shape our identities.

Freedom Investing in Review (December 2023)
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This quarter, we saw that in 1-year returns using the dynamic tilt and ending December 31, 2023, Developed Freedom Investing had a -4.21% disadvantage, Emerging Market Freedom Investing had a +4.78% advantage, and Overall Freedom Investing had a -1.46% disadvantage.

See More by Megan

Photo of Megan by Rebecca Caldwell.

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Chief Operating Officer, CFP®, APMA®

Megan Russell has worked with Marotta Wealth Management most of her life. She loves to find ways to make the complexities of financial planning accessible to everyone. She is the author of over 800 financial articles and is known for her expertise on tax planning.

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