Employee Spotlight | Michael Van Sant

Employee Spotlight | Michael Van Sant


Cara Van Sant, Wife

Caitlin (13), Daughter

Chris (11), Son

Olive the Havanese, family pet


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.

A team approach – what it means for you

At Merriman, one of our main goals is to provide exceptional service to our clients and place their needs first. One of the ways we do that is by supporting our clients with an entire team of people. As a client of Merriman’s, you’ll work with your Financial Advisor, of course, but you’ll also have the help of Client and Support Services Representatives, as well as Research and Finance staff. We at Merriman believe this team approach is a benefit you’ll feel far and wide.

When you call our office during business hours, our Support Services staff will personally answer your call. Imagine your advisor is either in a consultation or company meeting and all you need a simple request fulfilled. Anywhere else, you’d be sent to voicemail, regardless of how urgent your request is. How frustrating is that? (more…)