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.
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!
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?
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…)
I am pleased to announce that Merriman employees and their families will be partnering with Sound Salmon Solutions to plant trees along the Snoqualmie River to help restore salmon habitat!
On April 20th and 27th, we will be working side by side with Sound Salmon Solutions staff and volunteers to restore salmon habitat at McCormick Park along the banks of the Snoqualmie River in downtown Duvall, WA. Over 1,600 new trees need to be planted! These new trees will provide shade, erosion control, and essential food and habitat for the insects that rearing juvenile salmon need during multiple stages of their lives
If you are interested in making a positive impact on the future of salmon populations and our community, please come join us! This is a unique site where volunteers will have the opportunity to see exactly how big of a positive impact their efforts will have on salmon recovery in as little as 5 years!
I consider myself very fortunate to work at Merriman for many reasons, two of them being our dedication to community involvement and our commitment to being a “green” organization. Merriman employees are given 100 hours per year to volunteer at other non-profit organizations during regular business hours. As someone who is passionate about watershed restoration and education, I have chosen to use my volunteer hours assisting Friends of the Cedar River Watershed.
Friends of the Cedar River Watershed has been a private, non-profit organization since 1996. Their mission is to engage people to enhance and sustain watersheds through restoration, education, and stewardship.
The Cedar River and Lake Washington Watershed is the land area in which rainwater drains to Lake Washington and out through the Hiram Chittenden Locks in Ballard. The watershed includes the Cedar River and its tributaries, May Creek, Coal Creek, Mercer Island, Mercer Slough, Kelsey Creek, Fairweather Creek, Yarrow Creek, Juanita Creek, Forbes Creek, Lyon Creek, McAleer Creek, Thornton Creek, Ravenna Creek, and Lake Washington. The river itself is about 45 miles long, originating in the Cascade Range near Abeil Peak, flowing generally west and northwest, emptying into the southern end of Lake Washington. The watershed is home to more than 83 species of fish and wildlife, including 14 species of concern, such as sockeye salmon, and the endangered Chinook salmon – it is considered to be one of the best remaining salmon habitats in King County.
So why exactly am I interested in helping Friends of the Cedar River Watershed carry out their mission? I was taught how to fly fish about 10 years ago and it quickly became a passion of mine. The best part of fishing, in my opinion, is not landing the biggest fish but simply being on the water. My fondest fishing memory is being on the banks of the Madison River in the Madison Valley of Montana, outside of Yellowstone National Park, and watching the sun set while listening to the fish munch on the latest hatch of insects. It is a day I’ll never forget and something I hope my future children and grandchildren will be able to experience.
Being able to live sustainably in places such as the Madison Valley, at home right here in Seattle, and everywhere in-between is very important for our future generations. The Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed area is home to 22% of the population in the state of Washington. There are over 30 cities in the watershed and each of these cities is connected to the health of another and the greater whole. Think of it this way, if you live in the Cedar River/Lake Washington Watershed, everything you pour down the drain or onto the ground eventually gets to the river, making its way to one of the tributaries, and ultimately ending up in the Puget Sound. The connection between the people, the river, the lake, the sound, and the land is profound.
How can you help? Friends of the Cedar River Watershed offers a variety of events, programs, and services that you can learn more about on their website. They are always looking for volunteers and are currently looking for board members. I hope to see you there!