Lowell: I’ve worked at Merriman for 13 years. I started in client services before moving to my current advisor role. I made the switch because I wanted to help people achieve their goals and provide peace of mind along the way.
Scott: What do you love about working here?
Lowell: The opportunity to help my clients articulate, achieve, and expand upon their financial and associated life goals.
Scott: What’s on your wish list for the next 10 years?
Lowell: To raise my children in a way that they are responsible, give back, and are well rounded. Professionally, I want to continue developing in my career; and now that I’m getting older, I’m excited to help the next generation do well and advance through their careers.
Scott: If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
“‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’ said Alice.
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where—’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.”
–Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
What an amazing quote! My takeaway is that if you have clear direction, you can achieve whatever you set out to do.
Scott: Where are you originally from?
Lowell: Issaquah/Preston/Enumclaw, WA.
Scott: What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
Lowell: Chicken feet at Dim Sum in Vancouver, BC.
Scott: How was it?
Scott: What’s your hidden talent?
Lowell: I took up the guitar about 20 years ago and have steadily improved. My next level goal is to start playing acoustic sets at local venues.
Scott: What is the last experience that made you a stronger person?
Lowell: Coaching my son’s basketball team. Patience and repetition!
Scott: Merriman has employees take the StrengthsFinder quiz so we can understand how to best work with each other. What are your top five strengths?
Achiever: Those with the Achiever theme have a constant need for achievement. Every day they need to achieve, no matter how small. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
Learner: Those with the Learner theme love to learn. The process, more than the content or the results, is especially exciting for them.
Self-Assurance: People with this strength feel confident in their ability to take risks and manage their own lives. They have an inner compass that gives them certainty in their decisions.
Competition: People exceptionally talented in the Competition theme measure their progress against the performance of others. They strive to win first place and revel in contests.
Focus: People exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through, and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Matt: I started in May 2019. When I first got started in this industry, Aimee Butler was my first real boss. We kept in touch, and she let me know about the job opening. It’s great to be working with her again.
Kim: What do you do at Merriman, and what’s your favorite part of the workday?
Matt: I am an associate advisor working with the advisors in the Eugene office, helping our clients by sitting in on meetings that have complex financial needs and working with a group to deliver a good financial plan, then creating a portfolio to back that up in a real way. I also enjoy getting out of the office to meet other professionals in the community to hear how they perceive how our community is growing and changing. I am currently studying for the CFP, preparing to become a wealth advisor and get more involved with helping clients plan for the big goals they have that don’t revolve around money. Money means different things to each client. Helping them figure out what it means to them and what’s the reason for having the money. Helping clients support local charities with monetary donations as well as them volunteering in the community.
Kim: Tell us about your family.
Matt: Laurel and I met when we were summer camp counselors in college. Ten years later, we have a 2 ½ year old son, Trey, and a 20-pound cat named Charlie. Trey loves Charlie, although sometimes we need to remind him to be gentle. We love living in Oregon and having so many breweries and vineyards to explore. On the weekends, we can be found exploring the local parks and eating at the amazing restaurants Eugene has to offer.
Kim: What was your favorite vacation?
Matt: My wife Laurel and I went to Iceland for our Babymoon, and it was the most beautiful place on the planet. Pictures just can’t do it justice. We enjoyed hiking to amazing waterfalls and checking out some of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan, and after watching all of the Lord of the Rings movies and behind the scenes, I would love to go to New Zealand to see those places in the movie in person. I’ve heard the wine is pretty good there too.
Jeff: I went to school at Ohio State. After graduating, I stayed in Columbus and got a job at Ohio State in health care research. As a new employee, I had to figure out my benefit and retirement plan options, which I knew nothing about. I asked a friend about my benefits and he suggested I read A Random Walk Down Wallstreet, which first sparked my interest in personal finance. I then read a lot of books about saving and investing, including Paul Merriman’s books.
After moving to Seattle for a research job at Swedish in 2017, I saw Merriman was hiring and applied for the position. When I was thinking about changing careers, it was either Merriman or staying the course in research. I didn’t want to jump ship for some entry level sales role at a big bank, but I knew Merriman would be a great fit because I really identified with the philosophy and perspective Paul presented in his books. So far, I think I made the right choice.
Danielle: What do you do at Merriman and what do you love about working here?
Jeff: I’m an associate advisor, supporting both advisors and clients. I’m here to answer questions, expedite the process, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. I love the collaborative experience of working with advisors and our client service team to help clients, and I love teaching clients about the technical side of investing.
It’s great to see how energized the long-time advisors are even though they’ve been doing this for a while. The relationships I’ve built with team members have also been really rewarding. I want to come to work every day, and really enjoy being here.
Danielle: Tell me about your family.
Jeff: My wife, Brooke, is currently working and living in Berlin. We’ve done long-distance before, but it’s still challenging being continents apart. I look forward to visiting Germany, and we are excited to use our apartment there as a home base for touring around Europe.
My parents live down in Florida now, my sister is still in Ohio, and my brother is in a residency program in New York. My whole family is from the east coast, so I’m used to being the farthest west. Seattle is just a little farther than Ohio!
Danielle: What are your hobbies?
Jeff: I have a close group of friends from college, guys I lived with in the dorms freshman and sophomore year, then on the same block off campus. Now that I have moved to Seattle, we all play videogames together online to stay connected. I’m sure my neighbors must hate listening to us shouting over voice chat!
I also try to enjoy what the Pacific Northwest has to offer. I’m usually city-bound, living in South Lake Union, but I try to get out of town with friends sometimes. I’ve started rock climbing with the encouragement of the Merriman team – especially Chris Waclawik and Paresh Kamdar. We have taken a trip out to the “Exits” and hit some of the rock gyms in Seattle. I also play pool locally with Phuc Dang, and he even convinced me to join his team for a session last year. We’d go play a few times a week—it was a lot of fun, and I had the chance to meet some new people.
Kristi: I’m the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Chief Investment Officer (CIO) at Merriman.
In my role as COO I have the responsibility, together with Jeremy Burger (Merriman CEO) and Tyler Bartlett (Director of Advisory Services), of the overall success of the firm. My main goal is to ensure we’re delivering a great experience for our clients and for our employees. That involves all aspects of the business, from benefits and a great office environment, to making sure our people have the right skills and tools to provide our clients with the best possible experience.
As CIO, I oversee the research team and am responsible for making sure we have the best investments available for our clients. In my time here at Merriman, I’ve helped launch several new funds in collaboration with Dimensional Fund Advisors, championed the widespread adoption of asset location across client accounts, and centralized trading and portfolio management functions.
Overall, my team and I are focused on delivering ever greater value through outstanding service, diversified investment offerings, and easy-to-use technology.
Renske: What is your favorite part of the work day?
Kristi: For me, it’s always about making connections with people and bringing out the best in others. Whether it’s for an employee or a client, knowing I’ve done something to elevate somebody else’s game is enough to send me home happy every time.
Renske: Tell me a little more about your family life
Kristi: My husband and I have been married since 1998, and together since 1994 – more than half my life! We have two children: Piper, who will be 12 next month, and Anders, who will be 10 in May. Spending time with them is something I truly love and enjoy.
As a family we love to play boardgames, and we’re big into cooking. Now that the kids are a little older, we have been able to do some grand travelling. We went to Australia last summer, and this year we’ll visit the Netherlands and Greece. We’re already planning next year’s trip to South Africa as well.
Renske: Any fun facts we should know?
Kristi: I own a flag that flew in the space shuttle…is that cool?
Kristi: I used to work in rocket science, and all rocket scientist have something that flew into space!
Shayar: What is your role at Merriman and what do you love about working here?
Aries: I am the Director of Finance and I oversee the financial reporting process for the firm. I really enjoy the nature of the work that we do at Merriman and collaborating with the rest of my coworkers to help our clients reach their goals is fulfilling.
The challenge of working under the umbrella of a public company, with the additional requirements and expectations, makes my days even more exciting.
Shayar: How do you spend your time outside of work?
Aries: I have three kids (aged 3,5 and 8), who keep me very busy outside of work. When time allows, all five of us like to travel and visit new places. Some of my favorite memories have been spending time with my wife, kids, parents and in-laws in Ireland (photo above), Scotland, Maui, Italy and France.
Shayar: What do you look forward to in 2020?
Aries: I look forward to new challenges and visiting some new places. I am hoping to take my wife and kids to the Philippines. My parents are from the Philippines and it’ll be great for my kids and wife to learn more about the country, the culture and the food. It’s even more exciting since this would be their first time visiting the Philippines!
Shayar: Merriman has employees take the StengthsFinder quiz so we can understand how to best work with each other. What are your top five strengths?
Activator: People exceptionally talented in the Activator theme can make things happen by turning thoughts into action. They want to do things now, rather than simply talk about them.
Focus: Those that are exceptionally talented in the Focus theme can take a direction, follow through and make the corrections necessary to stay on track. They prioritize, then act.
Achiever: Those with the Achiever theme work hard and possess a great deal of stamina. They take immense satisfaction in being busy and productive.
Analytical: People exceptionally talented in the Analytical theme search for reasons and causes. They can think about all the factors that might affect a situation.
Significance: People exceptionally talented in the Significance theme want to make a big impact. They are independent and prioritize projects based on how much influence they will have on their organization or people around them.
While Aries shares these strengths with many others in the Merriman family, he appreciates the diversity in strengths, background, interests and perspectives that his coworkers bring.
2019 was a year of highs and lows, mixed economic numbers, political maneuverings, and ongoing recession worries. In other words, a fairly ordinary year in the late stage of an economic expansion.
We don’t yet know what 2020 will bring for the economy, for markets, or for our own lives. We can’t control what happens in markets or what happens in DC. But, we can control some things.
As we usher in a new year with great expectations, let’s take a moment to recommit to the factors we can control:
Harnessing the Power of Our Dreams
We know you don’t want to grow and protect your wealth just to have a big portfolio. Money is a tool that you can use to reach your aspirations, retire in comfort, create change in the world, and leave a legacy of love. It’s the desire to see you achieve your dreams that drives us to work tirelessly on behalf of our clients. Remembering your goals and keeping them close at hand will help you commit and achieve them.
Building Better Financial Behaviors
Too many investors focus on markets when they should focus on themselves, their hopes, their goals, and their dreams. Identifying the choices in our control isn’t just a good financial lesson, it’s a great life lesson, dating back to ancient Greece, when the Stoic philosopher Epictetus said:
“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control.”
Time in the Market, Not Timing the Market
The best day to invest in the market is the day after you get paid. The most potent factor you have as an investor is time. Markets are unpredictable, and those who jump in and out based on emotion or “gut feelings” about tops and bottoms typically do worst of all.
May you and your family enjoy all the warmth this season has to offer and a new year filled with love and success!