Employee Spotlight | Eric Jonson

Employee Spotlight | Eric Jonson

Brad: What are some of your personality traits that make you a great advisor?

Eric: I think about all aspects of a decision. Decisions that can seem obvious in a vacuum but become less clear after gaining additional perspective, and playing those decisions out over long time horizons. I also enjoy researching and learning things on my own. I believe that perspective is imperative when advising on long-term financial decisions. 

When I think of and analyze decisions, I always think of them in the context of a pachinko machine. The ball is launched to the top of the machine, where it then begins to fall. Bouncing off seemingly randomly to end up at its destination at the bottom. During that fall, the ball will go to each section and bounce off the pegs. The difference between it bouncing left and bouncing right can be a fraction of a millimeter, but that minuscule difference can lead to a very different outcome (whether the ball goes right or left). And, the ball bounces left and right several times before making it to the bottom. As it reaches the bottom, the outcomes are still random, but the further it comes to the end, the slimmer the range of outcomes. When it’s at the very top, that first bounce can make a huge difference in where it ends up.

 

Brad: What is something not many people know about you?

Eric: I ran the 1990 Goodwill games marathon in Seattle. The Goodwill games were created by tv and media mogul, Ted Turner, as an alternative to the Olympics. In February of that year I could not run one mile, so I decided to challenge myself to run a marathon. Slowly, I got in better and better shape, and was able to complete a 10k in April, which was a great stepping stone for the upcoming marathon in July which I was able to finish. When I finished, I promised myself I would do a marathon every 30 years to help keep me accountable, and my next one is coming up in a year and a half.

In addition to the marathon, I have always loved electric motors since I was a little kid. In my teens, I was always building them. I started out making small car motors to compete in middle school races, and the fascination continued. Today that interest continues at my family’s cabin along the scenic Highway 20, where I have created a small hydroelectric station on our creek to provide power to one of our buildings. I also enjoy reading up about the newest tech on electric cars and have now converted all my outdoor landscaping tools from gas to Green Works electric tools. I kind of went crazy with that transition, but I am very glad I made the switch.

 

Brad: If your son and daughter only took one lesson from you, what would that be?

Eric: Do away with expectations, regarding how their lives will play out and their relationships with others.

When you start thinking the world will be a certain way, it’s just a matter of time before you realize it isn’t going to go the way you think it will. When that happens, you’ll feel let down, even though the way life plays out could end up being perfect. As time passes, you can have a more complete perspective on seeing how that pachinko ball ended up in the right place, even though it may have taken an unexpected path to get there.

Instead, let life be an adventure. That way you don’t have to experience the same pressures and disappointments that come with having expectations. In short, plan with a pencil, not a pen.

Oh, and save 10% of your income, and wear sunscreen.

Employee Spotlight | Tyler Bartlett

Employee Spotlight | Tyler Bartlett

Kim: How did you come to Merriman?

Tyler: I had heard of Merriman from Paul’s weekly radio show. I was working at US Trust and they were going through some changes, and I had started thinking about opening up my own advisory firm.  I would often talk with a fellow co-worker, Mark Metcalf, about what my firm would look like.  Both of us had been doing research on advisory firms, and learned more about Merriman. Mark interviewed with Merriman and got a job as an advisor. He said it was a great place to work and that I should apply.  I interviewed and thought about whether I wanted to be a competitor, or join a firm that was already doing a great job of taking care of clients.  Here I am 13 years later.

 

Kim: What is your role at Merriman and what do you love about working here?

Tyler:  I started as an advisor in 2006 and in late 2018 I became the Director of Advisory Services.  Helping advisors and the company improve the services we offer to clients, by overseeing all things that impact advisors and the advice we give.  There are many things to love about working here, from an employee perspective it’s a family-oriented atmosphere.  We all support each other through the ups and downs of life.  I feel that because we are all so well taken care of, we take care of our clients with the same intent.  For clients, I love how thorough we are with everything we do, and we’re always making sure that we emphasize what is in their best interest, a true client first mentality.  Everything we do is to better the client experience, while continually improving how we can provide better advice on all aspects of our client’s life as well as being transparent with the research that goes along with the improvements.

 

Kim:  How do you spend your time outside of work?

Tyler:  With my three kids who are all very active.  My daughter, Ivy, is a sophomore and plays basketball year-round.  She is an honor student, involved with the Associated Student Body, and regularly volunteers within the community.  My son, Owen, will be a freshman in high school and plays basketball year-round, and is looking forward to playing football in high school.   My youngest son, Caleb, is in third grade. His current passion is playing ice hockey.  Our favorite family vacation spot is Seabrook, where we can take our two dogs.  There are lots of kid activities as well as the beach that keep us busy and able to focus on family fun.

 

Kim:  Merriman has employees take the StengthsFinder quiz so we can understand how to best work with each other. What are your top five strengths?

Tyler: 

  • Competition
  • Achiever
  • Focus
  • Discipline
  • Consistency
Employee Spotlight | Chris Waclawik

Employee Spotlight | Chris Waclawik

Renske: What’s your role at Merriman?

Chris: I was initially hired as an associate advisor in 2014. I was still doing my CFP studies at the time, so being able to do advisory work concurrently with my studies really prepared me for the financial advisor role at Merriman. I completed the CFP course and became a financial advisor about two years ago and started to manage my own clients. Besides being a financial advisor, I also manage the associate advisors. It’s nice to see the initial group of advisors I first managed in this role are now wealth advisors or have moved on to different roles within Merriman. I’m currently managing a new group of associate advisors at Merriman. They’re still relatively new, and it’s a lot of fun to guide and mentor them.

Renske: What do you love about your job?

Chris: I love my coworkers, and I like the regular client interaction and the feeling I get knowing we’re making a big difference in people’s lives. I love that I never feel bad in the morning going to work. I’ve experienced that in previous jobs, but right now, when I wake up, it’s always a positive feeling. The thing I love the most about my job is figuring out how to solve complex problems for my clients through research, inquiring, and working with my co-workers.  It’s really cool to learn more — especially about problems I don’t know the solutions to initially — and then go back to inform and implement the solutions for my clients.

Renske: Tell me a little bit more about your family life.

Chris: I am originally from the Kansas City area, and so is my wife, Katharina. We’ve been married for 12 years. She is a veterinarian. She used to work for the army as a vet, which had us living in South Korea for a few years. Once she quit working for the army, we moved to Washington. We are the proud parents of 2 daughters. Samantha is three and Evelyn just turned one. We’re very outdoorsy and love to go on hikes, take backpacking and camping trips, and go bike riding. My three-year-old is now able to cycle by herself and joins me when I go for a run, which is a ton of fun. We don’t have any pets at the moment. We always had cats and dogs, but since our last dog passed away, we promised each other to not get any more pets until the kids are a little older.

Renske: What’s your ideal date night?

Chris: Ooh my! I have not seen a single movie in 2018 from beginning to end! Before we had kids, we used to go to see plays and musicals fairly often. We’re hoping that soon we’ll have some more time and energy to go out on dates together again. 

Employee Spotlight | Geoff Curran

Employee Spotlight | Geoff Curran

Aimee: How did you come to Merriman?

Geoff: I was working at TD Ameritrade and Merriman was on our advisor referral platform. I was introduced to the firm by Michael Van Sant, and at one point took a tour of the office. On that tour, I started to feel like this was where I was supposed to work. My colleagues from TD Ameritrade even returned from the visit and remarked it was where I belonged, after they visited the office. I started working at Merriman less than six months later!

Aimee: What do you do at Merriman?

Geoff: I am a wealth advisor, have never been anything else here.

Aimee: What do you love about working here?

Geoff: I love the people. Financial advising is a team sport, and it’s not fun to do alone. I have a lot of fun meeting with clients and having the team to recap the meetings with. Debriefing with the team on how we are doing in helping clients is great.

Aimee: What is a fun fact about you?

Geoff: I was born with club feet and couldn’t really walk until kindergarten, but in high school I ran track and played soccer and basketball. Also, I have a favorite dance move called “The Stomp”. I stomp my right foot to the music, people around me need to watch out for their feet and toes!

Aimee: How do you spend your free time?

Geoff: Everyday my wife, Christina, and I walk our dog, Archie, rain or shine. Otherwise, we enjoy being homebodies or adventuring around Gig Harbor, Washington. I read thriller novels and like to finish the whole series. I just finished a 17-book series. I am also on the investment committees for the Tacoma Employees Retirement System Pension and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation. It is really rewarding to provide advice to institutions and be a part of the action.

Aimee: What’s next?

Geoff: We are expecting our first child in late April (any day now!).  I hope to one day take the LSAT and enroll in a hybrid/virtual law program so that I can provide our clients with legal advice too!

Employee Spotlight | Mallory Braun

Employee Spotlight | Mallory Braun

Lindsey: How did you come to Merriman?

Mallory: I was the Client Service Manager at a bank for three years after college and had felt like I had learned all I could in the role, and the career paths available were not for me, so I decided it was time for a change. I knew I liked working with people and I enjoyed personal finance, so was looking for a role that could combine the two. I actually found Merriman via a Craigslist job listing, went through the lengthy interview process and here I am 8 years later!

Lindsey: What do you do at Merriman and what do you love about working here?

Mallory: I was a Client Service Account Specialist for 7 years and over the past year I’ve transitioned to a new role as an Operations Analyst. I love that everyone at Merriman is teamwork focused, with our eyes on our number one priority – helping our clients. When I was in Client Services, if one person had a very heavy workload, another member with a lighter workload that day would offer to help take some tasks off the other’s plate. It’s great to have a team that you can rely on so no one feels overwhelmed and it allows us to provide the best service to our clients. And now in Operations, I get to interact with every department on a variety of projects, creating useful content,  finding ways to improve our workflows, and ensuring accuracy to make internal and external processes smoother.

 

Lindsey: How do you like to spend your weekends?

Mallory: I work remotely most of the year, so my weekends are usually spent exploring wherever I am. The first quarter of this year I was living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. This was my fifth time here, and my second time here for a longer three-month stay, it’s beginning to feel like another home. I love the tropical warm weather, sunshine, gorgeous beaches, the diversity of people that live and visit here, and the fresh fruits and seafood. My weekends in Mexico often consist of a morning run, checking out a beach (sometimes a new one, and sometimes just a favorite one), getting some incredibly fresh ceviche, and relaxing. Next up is Europe this summer. I love being able to work remotely, it’s great for my productivity, my dogs love having me around (even though they just sleep all day), and every weekend gets to feel like a vacation. It’s my version of ‘Live Fully’.

Lindsey: Do you have any pets?

Mallory: I’m absolutely obsessed with my two dogs, Tiger & Pacha! Tiger is a 5-year-old double doodle (goldendoodle/labradoodle mix). He’s a little dog with a big personality, loves attention, cuddles, and is a really fast runner. His brother, Pacha, is 4.5 years old and is a labradoodle. He has a sweet, goofy personality,  loves playing fetch and thinks he gets to take up half of the bed every night.

    Lindsey: Everyone at Merriman takes the StrengthsFinder quiz when they first start. What are your top five strengths?

    Mallory:

    • Responsibility
    • Arranger
    • Discipline
    • Consistency
    • Adaptability

    Living Fully with Merriman CIO and Portfolio Manager Dennis Tilley

    Living Fully with Merriman CIO and Portfolio Manager Dennis Tilley

    Since 1999, Merriman CIO and Portfolio Manager Dennis Tilley has been on a journey to help our clients make wise investments. While certainly an important job that he takes very seriously, Dennis believes making smart investment choices is only a means to an end of being able to live the life our clients want. Dennis knows maybe better than anyone else that Merriman’s mantra, “invest wisely, live fully,” is all a matter of balance.

    When Dennis was growing up, he watched his father work hard and save so that he could reach his long-held goal of retiring early. When his father reached that goal, Dennis saw firsthand that an early retirement could be more a curse than a blessing. While his dad enjoyed retirement at first, over time he was left asking, “Now what?” (more…)