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Hovering above the Earth at an elevation of 29,03ft, Mt. Everest is truly a breathtaking sight to behold. The experience of climbing the summit has attracted thousands of experienced climbers from all around the world. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay were the first climbers to successfully make it to the summit and back down alive. 


What most of us don’t know is that there are over 200 corpses still remaining on Mt. Everest.  In 2006 alone, there were 98 people who summited and 11 who died that same year. According to the book titled Dark Summit, 80% of the deaths that have occurred on Mt. Everest in the last 50 years have occurred on the descent. In fact, some hesitation exists to this day whether or not Hillary and Norgay were the first climbers to reach the summit.  In 1924, George Mallory and Andrew Irvine set out for the summit and never returned.  It has been rumored that one or both of these climbers were able to reach the summit. 


Conquering the summit of Everest is a physical challenge unlike any other on earth. On the way up the mountain, climbers are motivated by viewing the spectacular peaks looming ahead and the glory and sense of accomplishment that the summit will bring. However, on the descent, they now have the gravity pulling them towards horrifying views of 10,000 ft drop-offs. Some of the deaths are the result of technical errors, but the vast majority result from climbers not wisely conserving their most precious commodity – OXYGEN. Over 130 of the 200 bodies that still remain on Mt. Everest are located in an area just below the summit commonly referred to as “The Death Zone”.


The Death Zone lies above 26,000ft in the highest altitudes of the mountain. The oxygen level here is not adequate to support human life because the body simply cannot adapt.  At this altitude the body uses oxygen faster than it can be replaced. Therefore, if climbers linger in this region too long without supplementary oxygen, they will feel like they’re slowly suffocating.


Many of you reading this today are either nearing the summit of your working years or have already started the descent into retirement. A common thread in our conversations with clients regarding retirement issues is the anxiety generated by the realization that someday there will be a “last paycheck” from employment. Income is the equivalent of oxygen, and most of our clients have concerns about whether or not they will have enough of this precious commodity to maintain their dignity and independence as they navigate through their retirement years.

A sad commentary about the financial planning industry is that many advisors focus on having their clients reach the summit (accumulation phase) of retirement, but very little timing planning a successful descent. Many of these plans were greatly compromised over the past 10-15 years due to the tech bubble of the early 2000s and the “Great Recession” of 2008. Our firm employs strategies that will enhance the likelihood that you won’t outlive your resources.


The story of Mt. Everest and the current landscape of retirement planning have more parallels than we initially think.  During the accumulation phase (or on your way up the mountain), the sequence of returns in your portfolio don’t affect you as much. In some instances, they can actually help you. The law of averages takes over during the accumulation phase. However, the sequence of returns once you retire (or hit the summit) now become paramount for your financial descent down the mountain known as retirement years. A large market correction in the early years of retirement can have a horrific effect on our rate of success down the mountain.

Find your "true purpose" for money

Merit Advisors, LLC. was founded in 2005 for the specific purpose of helping clients find their "true purpose" for money and to obtain clarity, confidence, and understanding of their savings objectives in order to achieve success in their retirement planning.


Our team are "wealth strategists" which is defined as a financial professional who goes beyond typical financial planning to help identify your investment philosophy, understand your savings strategy, and provide discipline throughout your retirement planning experience. In addition to helping his clients identify the right strategy, he helps keep his clients' decisions and behavior regarding their savings strategies  on track for achieving the results they desire.

This business approach has led to hundreds of long-lasting, mutually satisfying relationships with his clients, many of whom he would call his dear friends.  

Independent thinking


We can achieve our mission because our independence allows us to have access to hundreds of the most competitive products with the best rates so that we are able to customize a financial plan that is made just for you and your unique situation.

Leadership team


Our leadership team is consistently a leader in their field; staying educated and staying on the cutting edge of laws, regulations, and industry news.


Specifically, J.B. (Burke) Howard is a proud member of Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) and a "Live Abundant" TEAM Member.  In addition, he holds certifications from the Registered Financial Consultant (RFC), Certified Senior Advisor (CSA) organizations and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation.  

J.B. (Burke) Howard

RFC©, CSA, CLU©, Wealth Strategist

J.B. began in the financial services business in 2002 during the height of the economic recession.  He joined a small, independent, family office run by his father-in-law - with 40+ years of experience - who mentored J.B. for over a decade. 


He was drawn to the financial services industry as a result of a family loss and the scarcity of economic strength that was directly related to the lack of proper financial planning.


Due to the initial experience with market volatility - adopted a "safe money" retirement planning perspective that allows clients to participate in market appreciation while protecting wealth from intermittent economic downturns and volatility.  Just as important as protecting against market downturns is avoiding increased taxation. 


As a result, the vast majority of strategies that are implemented by J.B. with clients are protected from traditional market downturns and are tax-free in nature.

J.B. is the proud husband of Krista and the father of two young children. They live on a small farm in Gambier, Ohio, and care for a multitude of animals; including alpacas, sheep, chickens, and bees. He spends much of his free time enjoying adventures with his family, mountain biking , fishing, running, and attending religious activities.

Susan Yang

Client Relations Manager

Susan Yang is a valuable member of the Merit Advisors office; providing administrative assistance to the wealth strategists as well as managing office operations.  

She applies the same dedication, leadership responsibilities, and skills needed from her continued professional service to the team. She makes it her personal responsibility to ensure each one of our clients is completely satisfied with their experience. "I truly enjoy," Susan states, "being part of a successful advisory team that is making a difference in our clients long-term financial security and wellness."  

When she isn't in the office engaging with clients, she enjoys spending time with her family. 

Jason Parrish

Wealth Strategist

As an independent financial advisor and an active member of the community, Jason Parrish, Wealth Strategists of Merit Advisors, is dedicated to helping individuals, families, and businesses attain peace of mind and financial freedom.

For years, he studied the characteristics of wealth accumulation vehicles and have come to the conclusion that there’s an underlining commonality with the individuals who are best positioned for financial success. All of these individuals have been educated on the financial principles of how to grow, protect, and transfer wealth.

Elevate your wealth

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