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!
Paresh: While working at Charles Schwab as a Private Client Relationship Manager, I was helping clients find RIA firms that were a good fit for their personality. What I found was that the clients I sent to Merriman were happier, they never came back to me for another referral. I went to see Paul Merriman speak several times, and 13 years ago on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Jeff Merriman, Paul Merriman’s son, called and asked me to come to Merriman.
Aimee: Why did you say yes?
Paresh: I primarily came for the investment philosophy and after talking to clients who worked with Merriman, I felt there was a better way to measure client success than just the performance of funds.
Aimee:You are quite the adventurer, what’s the next adventure you are going on?
Paresh: My next vacation is a back-country skiing trip to the Valkyr Lodge in British Columbia with our best friends; it’s my favorite week of the year. We have been taking trips like this for 13 years now. We take a helicopter to access the Lodge and then spend the week connecting with friends, climbing and skiing. We bring in all our food and gear and every night we make dinner together. We are completely “off the grid” (and no WIFI) for the week. The wood stove in the sauna heats up the water for a hot shower and we do have a satellite phone for weather information or emergencies.
Aimee: What is your favorite activity on a day off?
Paresh: That is seasonally dependent, but I like skiing, backpacking, climbing, and mountain biking with friends.
Aimee: Tell me about your family.
Paresh: My wife, Sibylle is a veterinarian. We have a dog, Bodie and he is a great little guy. We go camping with him a lot. We’re also fortunate to have my folks, my brother, his wife, and their boys here in town. We get to spend a lot of time together.
Aimee: Does your dog, Bodie, love to go camping?
Paresh: It’s probably more for our amusement. I think for him, his morning walk is the best.
Aimee: What’s your favorite food?
Paresh: It’s Pho season now! I am a lover of Vietnamese soup, ramen and tacos!
Aimee: What’s your favorite quote?
Paresh: Part of Attitude by Chuck Swindoll. “The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life… Attitude is more important than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people say or do…We cannot change our past… we cannot change the fact that people will act a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing you can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”
Scott: Did you find the Finance industry, or did it find you?
Michael: I stumbled into it. Obtaining a business degree was my top option and majoring in International business seemed exciting at the time, upon graduating in 1995 and not realizing how my major would fit into the working world. I attended a career conference, where I was pulled aside by a slick stockbroker (he was even wearing bulls & bears suspenders), who let me know I might have what it takes to be a great stockbroker.
Scott: What are the Aha moments that lead you to the Wealth Management path?
Michael: During the last half of the 1990’s I thought I was adequately diversifying my client’s portfolios with different US large company growth stocks. The dot-com bubble of the early-2000s taught me diversification needs to include numerous assets classes that have low correlations to one another
When I went to work for Charles Schwab in 2002, they had an unlimited number of clients for me to learn how investors thought and acted. As an Advisor at Charles Schwab, I got a much better understanding of how thousands of investors made decisions. Both good and bad decisions.
Scott: What has been the most significant mindset change you have experienced in your 25 years as an Advisor?
Michael: A better understanding of how to help my clients. Initially, my thinking was I could target individual stock positions, or that others could do this as well. The dot-com bust (200-2002) and great recession (2007-2009) opened my eyes to the worlds of behavioral finance, investor psychology and the importance of having a financial plan to guide investors through every type of stock market we encounter. In the end, it is about balance.
Scott: When you are not analyzing portfolios or counseling clients, what do you like to do?
Michael: Spending time outdoors with loved ones and friends. My family enjoys camping, hiking, biking, and skiing. We traveled to England and France for the first time this year as a family and we all loved it. We will travel abroad more in the years to come.
Scott: Where are some of your favorite outdoor areas?
Michael: First and foremost, my favorite experiences are driven by the people I am with. On a recent trip to Cannon Beach where the campground wasn’t anything special, and the weather was horrific. It was three fun families that made this a wonderful trip!
P.S. – Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park and Raging River
Scott: What are some hobbies you dabble in?
Michael: I dabble with the guitar and piano. My daughter has been inspiring to get back into music.
Scott: Can we expect a family Van Sant tour?
Michael: Look for us at a campground tour near you.
Scott: What is one of your greatest passions?
Michael: To joyfully and curiously connect with others to make a difference in all of our lives.
Brian: My wife and I moved to Spokane in 2015. At the time, I was working remotely for an investment advisor in Seattle which is where we moved from. I left this relationship when they were requiring me to move back to Seattle to work. Our home was in Spokane now. I spent time searching for jobs in Spokane and didn’t know I would find a place as dandy as Merriman to work for. Once I found out Merriman was a Seattle based company in Spokane, it felt familiar to me. I started working for Merriman in May of 2017.
Scott: What do you do at Merriman and what do you love about working here?
Brian: My title is Client Service Account Specialist, but because of the smaller size of the Spokane office, I wear a number of hats. I do a fair amount of Associate Advisor work for the Advisors. I also do some operational and general office management work. I love the culture of Merriman and how the company treats its employees.
Scott: What is a fun fact about you?
Brian: We have 16 linear feet of vinyl records. We love checking out used record stores and finding little gems. We have a good-sized selection of popular rock from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. We have a substantial selection of blues and a huge selection of jazz.
Scott: What is your favorite food?
Brian: Pizza. It’s the food I can never pass up. If someone says, we’re having a get-together and we’re going to have pizza, then I’m like, “okay, I’m there”. My wife and I are pretty accomplished at cooking. We like to cook and entertain. We belonged to a food club in Seattle, and we have started to build a food club here in Spokane. It’s a way for us to build friendships in the community.
Scott: Tell me about your family.
Brian: My wife, Krista, and I do a lot together and love spending time with each other. We got married later in life, Krista was 36 and I was 43. We have now been married for 17 years. My wife is very outgoing, and I like to refer to her greatest strength as social glue. She is the person that connects everyone together, and I love her for it.
Scott: Anything you else you would like others to know about you?
Brian: Something else that has been a really big part of our lives is every year for the past 14 years, we get together with a group we call the Gordon Ranch Gang. We like to refer to the members of the ranch gang as our, “family of choice”. The gang is made up of people from all over the country. My sister-in-law has a family ranch in Montana, and we all rendezvous there for 2 weeks during the summer and go fishing, biking, and hiking. It’s an incredible time.
Our financial lives are like jigsaws with a thousand pieces that only fit together with thoughtful, precise coordination. Each part of the wealth management procedural process presents potential challenges like paperwork submissions, complex legal requirements, and complications when corresponding with other financial institutions. Merriman helps solve these challenges with the help of a professional team of advisors, researchers, and operations staff, with the client services department acting as the glue that holds it all together.
In a nut shell, client services act as a liaison between the client, the custodian, and the wealth advisor. Client services implements and executes everything that you have discussed with your advisor. They talk the talk—client services walks the walk!
In the face of all these hurdles, our goal in client services is to lift the weight off your shoulders by completing tasks in minutes that could take you hours spent on hold and getting bounced around thanks to our experience and relationships with other financial institutions. We are also the first point of contact when you visit or call our office. And pride ourselves on providing warm, professional, and quality service every time you walk through the doors or one of your calls lights up our phone. We possess a broad knowledge and can assist with answering your questions or linking you with an expert. For all those times when you need a quick money transfer or confirmation of a recent trade, client services can help sort out those questions in one fell swoop.
Our client service all-stars go above and beyond for every client. Just imagine you’re heading into retirement after a fulfilling career with half a dozen happy employers, but now you have to figure out how to roll over all those 401(k)s! Instead of wading through that mire of paperwork on your own, we can prep the forms, gather your signatures, print the postage, and get those 401(k)s rolling so that you can hit the golf course.
Since none of us are springing out of telephone booths in red capes, how does client services pull it off? We manage all these super human feats by building relationships with our advisors and clients. We collaborated with our advisors daily to tackle the latest objectives for managing our clients’ assets. These strong bonds translate to our clients and their families. We value long-term relationships and prioritize our clients to take care in addressing every task. Whether celebrating a new (grand)child or coping with the passing of a loved one, we are here to support you throughout all phases of life.
And to get a picture with the voices and names, this us. Our individual bios can be found here.