Keeping it Close to Home: 6 Meridian

Front row, from left: Margaret Dechant, Bryan Green, Pam Smith and Sarah Hampton. Back row: Tom Kirk, Steve Bahm and Andrew Mies.      

Front row, from left: Margaret Dechant, Bryan Green, Pam Smith and Sarah Hampton. Back row: Tom Kirk, Steve Bahm and Andrew Mies.      

By Amy Geiszler-Jones - Photographed By Madison Ham

The investment firm 6 Meridian may be a relatively new one – celebrating its one-year anniversary this month – but its employees and clients have a long history together. They also are looking at what they feel is a prosperous future.
    “A year later, it’s safe to say we’ve surpassed our expectations, but we worked hard to minimize the challenges,” said Margaret Dechant, 6 Meridian’s CEO and one of its seven founding partners. The company is already six months ahead of its financial projections, she said.
    It’s also added two employees to the original 13-member team, with plans to grow in the next year.
A solid team
    It made national financial news when an investment portfolio team known as the Kirk Bahm Group left the nationwide Morgan Stanley firm to start their own registered independent investment advisory firm in Wichita last year. In addition to Dechant, founding partners are Steve Bahm, Bryan Green, Sarah Hampton, Tom Kirk, Andrew Mies and Pam Smith. Besides the partners, six support staff made the move, as well.
    They’d been functioning as a team since 2008 – with some team members having an even longer history together – but felt they could do more for their high net-worth clients as an independent firm. 
    “We wanted to deliver tailored investments,” said Dechant. 
    “One of the main things we are excited about is that we have a lot more investment opportunities for our clients and more freedom to offer them,” Green said.
    Kirk, 6 Meridian’s senior managing partner, said the team had already established “big-league skills” but needed to be able customize products. At Morgan Stanley, the team had managed more than $2.2 billion in assets. The team retained more than 95 percent of its clients when it formed 6 Meridian, said Green, the firm’s managing director.
    “Wichita’s entrepreneurial and most of our clients are entrepreneurs or have created their own wealth,” Kirk said. “They respected a business like ours, going out on their own.”
    While most of its clients are in Wichita, “clients are all across the country. Some started here and they moved away or clients in Wichita have referred them,” Kirk noted.

What’s in a name
    Business experts will tell you deciding on a company name is a major decision. It can help develop a company’s brand, reflect its mission and vision and much more. 
    With its name, 6 Meridian gives a nod not only to its geographical location in Wichita, but to history and the future.
    In the 1800s, the 6th principal meridian was established as a reference point for surveyors marking new territory in the American West and for the pioneers who traveled west, looking for the American dream. The meridian runs right through Wichita. The concept of surveying the landscape, making assessments and helping plan people’s futures resonated with 6 Meridian’s seven founding partners.
    At the firm’s offices at 1635 W. Waterfront Parkway, Suite 250, the décor includes vintage tools used by surveyors and historical maps showing the marking of the 6th principal meridian. Works by Kansas and Wichita artists, such as Josh Tripoli, hang on the walls, to showcase local support.

Keeping it close to home
    While the team’s departure from Morgan Stanley was driven by wanting to offer more services to their clients, they also wanted to do more for their community.
    “Most of our clients already understood – and we educated them if they didn’t – that most of the revenue stayed in New York,” explained Green. “Now it doesn’t. It’s back in the Wichita community.”
    As a local firm, the partners also feel they can also be more supportive of local causes than before, Kirk said.
    “We want to be good stewards for the community,” said Dechant, who serves as a board member for the Kansas Humane Society. 
    The partners and team are also involved in supporting other charitable organizations, including Kansas Big Brothers, Big Sisters and the greater Wichita chapter of The First Tee, which works with local youth to introduce them to golf and to provide life skills development.