Spokane Journal of Business

Post acquisition, Merriman Wealth mines for clients in Spokane

Company absorbed former Summit Capital last year

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-—Kevin Blocker
The Merriman Wealth Management team in Spokane includes, from left to right, David Martin, Lisa Burke, Andy Bloom, and Mark Metcalf. The company works out of a penthouse office on the 22nd floor of the Davenport Tower.

Traditionally, journalists haven’t been recognized as a financially savvy lot; however, one local financial adviser points to a one-time business columnist for the publication Barron’s Magazine as having helped him shape his long-term investment strategy.

Quoting business writer Alan Abelson—who died in 2013—David Martin, a financial adviser in the Spokane office of Seattle-based Merriman Wealth Management LLC in Spokane, says, “‘Do you know what investing for the long run but listening to market news every day is like? It’s like a man walking up a big hill with a yo-yo keeping his eyes fixed on the yo-yo instead of the hill.’’’

Martin says, “I can’t remember when I first heard that, but that’s always left an impression on me. That’s my philosophy. That’s Merriman’s philosophy, looking 10 years, 20 years down the road.”

Martin works with three other financial advisers—Mark Metcalf, Lisa Burke, and Andy Bloom—in a 1,400-square-foot penthouse suite on the 22nd floor of the Davenport Tower, at 111 S. Post.

“Our goal is to attempt to be a multigenerational firm,” Metcalf says.

The company historically has targeted high net-worth households with assets of $1 million or more, Martin says.

Last year, Merriman Wealth Management acquired Spokane-based Summit Capital LLC as part of a regional growth strategy. Merriman says it represents 1,900 clients and manages $2.2 billion in assets. It has clients across the county, but the majority are in the Puget Sound region, says Metcalf.

Martin and his brother, Rob Martin, merged the former Martin Investment Group of Spokane with Summit Capital Partners of Seattle in 2006 to create Summit Capital LLC, which was then acquired by Merriman.

Prior to becoming part of Merriman’s, Summit Capital had close to 400 clients, 140 of them in Spokane, and managed about $600 million in total assets. The company was founded in 1996, and Martin Investment Group started in 2002 with $28 million under management, David Martin says.

Now, David Martin is a Merriman employee, and Rob Martin, who’s in Seattle, serves as a consultant while developing his own financial advising company.

Merriman now has a total of 48 employees, including 15 principals, companywide. Merriman’s Spokane office is in the process of hiring a client services account specialist. None of the former Summit Capital employees became Merriman principals, Martin says.

The firm emphasizes a comprehensive wealth management approach that incorporates financial, retirement, insurance, estate, wealth transfer, and income tax planning, he says.

Martin moved to Spokane from Boise and earned his undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University. He says the affiliation with Merriman Wealth Management has been a positive experience.

“It’s been really good. I’m more than pleased with Merriman’s services, and there’s a staff of financial advisers that are very well qualified,” he says.

“We bolted onto a company armed with CFAs, CFPs, and rocket scientists,” says Martin, who adds that there are indeed some members of Merriman’s financial research team in Seattle who studied jet propulsion and aeronautical sciences before entering financial services.

Last week, Seattle-based Merriman CEO Jeremy Burger was in Spokane to meet with advisers and clients to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the merger.

“We’re really excited to be here,” Burger says of Merriman’s presence in Spokane. “Things are going the way we anticipated because we (the former Summit Capital and Merriman) served clients similarly.”

Martin says being acquired by Merriman has provided its Spokane clients with access to more comprehensive financial services than were available to them under Summit Capital or the Martin Investment Group.

“Because of a larger staff with extensive experience, we can now examine a client’s portfolio in greater detail and walk them through investment planning in a way like never before. We can now apply a second and third set of eyes to the client profile,” he says.

He adds, “Also, with more advisers and staff, we can do a better job of following up with our clients. Unfortunately, that is something that’s very atypical in our industry.”

Metcalf, who went to Seattle after college but returned to Spokane when Merriman acquired Summit Capital, says Merriman’s acquisition has been viewed favorably by its existing client base here, and the firm primarily has relied on word-of-mouth advertising to pursue new clients in the Spokane market.

“It’s clearly a reflection of the relationships David and Rob established with their clients,” Metcalf says. “The relationships are very strong. I was expecting to hear and meet clients leery of the acquisition, but that just wasn’t the case at all.”

Metcalf says Merriman wants to expand the size of its staff as it seeks more advisers to recruit more clients.

“Merriman’s goal is also to create new jobs in the communities where it has offices. The intention isn’t just to maintain this office, but to hire more advisers and staff this year,” he says.

In addition, Martin says Merriman’s philanthropic efforts effectively aligned with those of the former Summit Capital.

While a student at Gonzaga, Martin also worked as an assistant wrestling coach at Gonzaga Prep high school where he coached Steve Gleason, a former New Orleans Saints defensive back who now suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Last year, through Martin’s efforts, Merriman helped raise $1 million in five days at a charity golf event to help those suffering locally with ALS. This year’s golf tournament will be held on Aug. 7 at the Kalispel Golf & Country Club.

Despite its many attributes, Metcalf says, he admits that Merriman isn’t a firm suited for every investor.

“If you’re a day-to-day investor asking, ‘What’s this stock doing? What’s that stock doing?’ then we’re not going to be a good fit for each other,” he says.

 Kevin Blocker
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Reporter Kevin Blocker, a University of Colorado alum, is a rec league basketball addict. At age 47, he still sports a 32-inch vertical leap. He has three children, all of whom are hooked on hoops.

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