A couple of things stand out when you look at the website of registered investment advisor 6 Meridian LLC. First, there’s the company name, which has a certain edge to it. Then there’s the group photo of the company’s employees, which has a good number of young faces mixed in with the more seasoned folks on staff who’ve been in this business a long time.

Obviously, that mix of age cohorts didn’t just kind of happen.

“This industry has starved young people out of it over the years,” said Margaret Dechant, partner, co-founder and CEO of 6 Meridian, a Wichita, Kan., firm with $1.8 billion in client assets under management. “The wirehouse and sales environment put unrealistic expectations on young people and many of them didn’t make it. And then 20 years later we’re like, ‘Hey, there’s not any young people in this business.’ So what we’ve committed to is providing younger people the opportunity to nurture their education and grow as a professional, and then give them the responsibility to help run the business.”

Dechant and 6 Meridian’s other five co-founders and partners, along with remaining staff members, formerly worked together as a team at Morgan Stanley before they established their own RIA in 2016. She said the team operated fairly independently inside of Morgan Stanley with its own investment management strategies, coupled with wealth management work. Ultimately, though, they wanted to call their own shots.

“We wanted to leverage our skills and talents to focus on our clients, and to not focus on the agenda of the wirehouse,” Dechant explained, adding that they studied the pros and cons of going independent for three years before taking the plunge. And she’s glad they did.

“Since going independent, we’ve been able to expand our investment management strategies and to do more on the wealth management side,” Dechant said. The firm serves 630 households, and its client base largely comprises business owners, executives and medical professionals. She said 6 Meridian’s average household client has roughly $5 million in assets.

Another benefit of independence is having control over staffing needs. “We’ve been able to add people to our team based on what we needed,” Dechant said. “We wanted our more seasoned people to spend time with clients with more complex needs, and we also wanted to build capacity and service the next generation of clients.”

During its time as a stand-alone firm, 6 Meridian has brought on board a handful of next-generation professionals. And part of the credit for this goes to its clients.

“Recruiting younger talent and building a bench within the firm is something we’re very vocal about,” Dechant said. “Our clients are aware we’re building an enduring firm that will serve multiple generations, and they’ve been helpful in bringing talent to us.”

She noted that not all prospective hires suggested by clients have panned out and led to job offers. But one who did fit the bill is Markus Phox, a Wichita native who attended Princeton University, where he majored in economics and played cornerback on the football team. In 2016, his final season, he received the Hank Towns Award, given to the player who has given the most back to Princeton football. After graduation, he worked for a year in New York City as a salesperson for MarketAxess Holdings Inc., an electronic trading platform for fixed-income securities.

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