Meet Hannah!

Bringing in a new year always presents new opportunities and possibilities. As we began 2012 we brought in some new talent to the Merriman team – Hannah Mitchell. You may have already met or spoken with Hannah, as she is one of the great people who greet our clients and answer our busy phones. Hannah works in our Support Services team and has already embraced her new role, leaving a wake of greatness as she grows in her position.

Hannah comes to us with experience in planning events, as she owned her own wedding planning business for the past four years. She also brings a new level of creativity to her position given her lifetime of dance, both as a student and recently as a teacher for the past five years. Hannah taught all types of dance at a local studio and developed a dance program at the YMCA for kids and adults.

Born in Montana, Hannah moved to Washington State as an infant and grew up in the Snohomish/Monroe area. Hannah spent much of her school years performing and acting. Hannah married her husband, Todd, last August and they spent their honeymoon in Hawaii – which quickly became Hannah’s favorite vacation spot. Along with appreciating the beauty of Hawaii, she experienced the thrill of zip lining and also took a helicopter tour!

Here are a few more fun, random facts about Hannah:

  • Hannah is a fan of working out (who says that, really?) and is currently training for her first half marathon, the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll at the end of June.
  • She is the middle child, with one older and one younger sister.
  • Hannah loves to travel and has set a goal to get to Greece, Italy and Switzerland within the next couple of years.
  • Hannah’s two favorite parts she played while acting in high school were those of Margot Frank in The Diary of Anne Frank and Hellen Keller in The Miracle Worker.
  • Hannah recently tried surfing for the first time and really loved it!

We are very excited to have Hannah joining our fantastic support services team at Merriman!

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Meet Dawn!

In continuing with our great hiring success in 2011, I have the pleasure of introducing our newest member to the Merriman team, Dawn McGeorge. Dawn joined us on April 27th and is the newest member of our support services team.  By now you have likely had the chance to speak with Dawn, as she is one of the fantastic people you initially interact with when calling our office. She is a truly great addition to our already wonderful support services team!

Dawn has several years of great experience serving clients and trying to help make their experience memorable and pleasant. Dawn just moved to the Seattle area from North Carolina where she was the manager of a well-known barbecue restaurant called The Pit. She takes great pride in making sure our clients know how much we love working with them. She looks forward to her daily interactions and loves to help each of our clients in any way possible.

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Meet Mallory!

2011 has been a great year for hiring fantastic new team members at Merriman. Mallory Braun, our newest client services team member, joined us on March 31st.  There is something quite soothing in her extremely pleasant phone voice. If you get the chance to speak with Mallory, you will quickly hear what I mean. She is a fabulous addition to our already wonderful client services team!

Mallory BraunMallory has three years of great client service experience under her belt, having worked for Key Bank prior to joining Merriman. She won numerous awards for achieving her goals and treating her clients with great care. Mallory gives every client an extraordinary experience and she is very excited about the interactions she has in talking with different Merriman clients each day.

Mallory grew up in Spokane, WA and went on to earn her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Washington in Seattle. She comes to us with a great deal of enthusiasm and truly wants to make a difference for our clients. You can read more about Mallory on our website, and here are a few fun facts that you won’t find in her bio:

  • Mallory was named after the TV character on the sit-com “Family Ties”
  • The first car she owned was built the same year she was born
  • She contemplated fashion or art school before deciding to attend the UW
  • She played tennis for her high school, Shadle Park
  • Mallory’s favorite vacation spot thus far is the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas

We are excited for you to get to know Mallory and we are thrilled to have her on our team!

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Meet Mischa!

If you have had the opportunity to speak with one of our great additions to the client services team, it’s likely you felt well taken care of when you hung up the phone. Mischa Bellarin is one of the newest members of our client service team. Mischa BellarinHe has been rigorously working away at learning how we take great care of our clients at Merriman. Mischa has a great deal of genuineness, warmth, and he definitely wants to make sure our clients’ needs are met. He also aims to exceed expectations, as do all of our fabulous client service team members.

Mischa grew up in Tacoma, WA and went on to earn his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics at Eastern Washington University. He comes to us with endless amounts of enthusiasm and truly wants to make a difference for our clients. To get you started, here are a few fun facts you won’t find in his bio on our website:

Mischa…

  • just got married in September of 2010.
  • has a cat who won a beauty contest last year.
  • loves to find hidden burger dives when on a road trip and collects t-shirts from each one.
  • recently started playing the board game “Agricola” with a few other Merriman team members.

We can’t wait for you to get to know Mischa and we are thrilled to have him on our team!

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Why we survey our clients and what we do with that information

It’s no secret that businesses make mistakes. We’ve made our fair share of them, and we took a long, hard look back at these mistakes to see if there was something we could learn.

We realized that we were making decisions with the best of intentions, but within a small vacuum. Often times, these changes were spurred by client feedback, but that feedback represented only a small portion of the client base, or wasn’t really the root-cause of the client concerns.

To keep this from happening again, we made a substantial commitment about two years ago – to regularly survey our clients and collect feedback about how well they think we’re doing. About once a year, we send each and every client who has access to email a brief electronic survey. While we do ask a few specific questions, we often find the most benefit in providing the opportunity to give open-ended feedback. It allows our clients to start a conversation about what would make working with Merriman an even better experience. (more…)

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Coming to Seattle for a meeting with your advisor?

Is it time for your review?  If that means a drive into the city for you, then why not make a day of it?

There’s the usual shopping and lunch, but how about a stroll through a park? Seattle neighborhoods offer some wonderfully-urban, free outdoor experiences. Here are two of my favorites.

Capitol Hill’s Volunteer Park has been around since the late 1800s, but it was between 1904 and 1909 that the famous Olmsted Brothers formalized the design with lily ponds, a wading pool and a music pavilion. The park is also known for its conservatory, built in 1912, which houses flowering plants from all over the world and a collection of orchids (over 600 varieties). (more…)

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We are green as we update our logo

Here at Merriman we take our commitment and responsibilities for managing your investments earnestly.  Because remaining true to our commitment for sustainability and being a carbon neutral firm is so important to us, we made a responsible decision when updating our logo. You may see some variation in our stationary when you receive correspondence from us in the near future. Our logo on our letterhead may be updated, but you may see our old logo on the envelopes. Rest assured this is a conscious choice on our part because we feel passionately about not wasting resources. Whenever possible we reduce, reuse and recycle – it is not a catch phrase around here, it is something we all value and live by.

We ask that you please pardon us if we are wearing mismatched socks for a little while. We plan to responsibly exhaust our existing supply while integrating our new supply of printed materials.

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The benefits of a review meeting with your advisor

Working at Merriman has many great benefits because of the importance this company places on taking care of its employees creating a truly unique work environment. But one benefit that is often forgotten about is the fact that we also get to take advantage of our own services. It is so awesome to work at an office so rich with knowledge. I love sitting down with my own advisor, Phuc Dang, to go over my savings and expenses. Having a third party review my financial situation is extremely helpful – Phuc always finds a little something I missed, and can point out ways to use or save my money more wisely. (more…)

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What I have learned from clients

Everywhere I have worked, I have had the pleasure of talking directly with clients. About 18 months ago, we embarked on an ambitious program of surveying our clients on a recurring basis. When we launched the program I set out to call everyone who responded to the survey to, at the very least, thank them for taking the time to share their thoughts with us.

Most of my calls were a joy to make. It was fun to bask in the happy, supportive comments of our satisfied clients. I learned how much they enjoy working with their advisor, listening to our podcast or enjoying the freedom that comes from having a partner to help you manage your money.

This process also gave me a chance to learn some fantastic things from the lengthy conversations I had with the handful of dissatisfied clients who responded. Here are some gems from those calls:

  • Financial professionals measure relative performance and, while that is important, it’s ACTUAL performance that puts your child through college or allows you to retire. (more…)
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Working with Merriman

Custodians like Schwab sometimes have separate departments for managing “retail” accounts (for people working directly with Schwab) and “institutional” accounts (for people, like our clients, who work with an investment advisor). Often, these different departments have different forms that do exactly the same things.

I recently got a phone call from our representative at Charles Schwab (the custodian of many of our client accounts), and they received a form that the client sent in on their own to add a feature to their account. Unfortunately, it was a form for the retail side of Schwab which does not allow the investment advisor—Merriman—to act on what the client was trying to set up.

In this case, Schwab was fortunately able to do what the client needed, but I had to send the client another form with the investment advisor information so Merriman could help the client with this feature in the future.

Our clients pay us to manage their accounts, and we want to help in any way we can. If a client wants to add a feature to their account we encourage them to come to us so we can avoid this type of confusion. As a client, it’s always best for you to call us first to get the best out of your account.

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