The partners in a new investment advisory firm aren’t new to one another or to their clients.
Most spent a decade or more working together at Morgan Stanley before launching their own firm, 6 Meridian, last month.
“We had a great team, and we really had grown to the point where we only used Morgan Stanley for custody and execution,” partner Tom Kirk said, referring to the mechanism of transactions. “Everything else, we did on our own. We just felt like it was time.”
Kirk is one of seven founding partners in 6 Meridian, along with Margaret Dechant, Andrew Mies, Bryan Green, Steve Bahm, Pam Smith and Sarah Hampton. Seven staff members who worked with them at Morgan Stanley also moved to 6 Meridian.
“Nobody was left behind,” Green said. “Everybody individually had their own part and piece in the planning process.
“We’re happy that part of it’s over and the fun part’s ahead of us.”
The firm is focused on serving high-net-worth clients such as corporate executives, business owners, entrepreneurs and medical professionals. At Morgan Stanley, Kirk said, the firm’s employees managed more than $2.2 billion in assets, making them one of that company’s largest discretionary portfolio teams.
They were known as the Kirk Bahm Group and their departure drew notice in the financial world, with news organizations such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Reuters and several websites writing stories. According to one account, Kirk handed 13 resignation letters to a supervisor at Morgan Stanley on Sept. 9, the same day that 6 Meridian announced its existence.
The name of the new firm reflects its partners’ goals, said Dechant, who is the firm’s chief executive. The 6th principal meridian, which runs through Wichita along Meridian Avenue, was used as a survey control for a large part of the American West.
“We went with something that had a nod to Wichita, Kansas, but also could broaden our reach because we do have clients all over the country,” Dechant said.
Some of those out-of-state clients are former Wichita residents, while others are contacts the partners have made through their careers. The partners range in age from 33 to 62. Kirk said he and Bahm each have 35 years in the business, and no partner has less than a decade.
6 Meridian is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and is using Pershing Advisor Solutions, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon, as its custodian.
Green said the partners couldn’t have gone out on their own “if we all didn’t feel like we had a very loyal client base we got serving over the years.” To some extent, he said, team members will operate as they did before.
“At Morgan Stanley, most of the investment ideas and solutions we offered were, for lack of a better term, manufactured in-house. We didn’t really use Morgan Stanley to provide investment ideas of solutions for our clients.”
But as a independent firm, he added, “We have access to just a much broader range of investment solutions.”
All three partners gave variations on Kirk’s comment that their move was “nothing against Morgan Stanley.”
Nevertheless, Kirk said the move will better help them serve each client’s unique needs.
“This is a service business,” he said. “We feel like we can service the clients we’ve built over the years in a better manner.”