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How This $2.5 Billion Team Saw Past the Handcuffs of Deferred Compensation

A conversation With Margaret Dechant, CEO and founding partner of Kansas-based independent firm 6 Meridian.



Former Morgan Stanley advisor Margaret Dechant had what she describes as a “self-sufficient business” at Morgan Stanley, managing $2.5 billion in assets from a client base built of business owners, professionals and executives.

She and her partners had a vision of how they wanted to serve these entrepreneurial-minded clients; that is, with greater flexibility, access to a diversified set of investment solutions and better technology for more sophisticated planning. Yet each of these become increasingly difficult to deliver from within the walls of the brokerage firm.

As Morgan Stanley’s compensation plan changed with more being deferred, she and her partners did the math: “With the revenue stream that we were generating, if we had stayed much longer, those numbers would become the handcuffs they were designed to be.”

So, in 2016, the team set out to break free of those proverbial handcuffs and build their own firm.

In this episode, Margaret discusses:

  • How they decided whether or not to use a service provider—and how the team’s “divide and conquer” approach led them toward a successful launch.
  • Why the team decided on BNY Mellon’s Pershing to custody assets—and the role Pershing played in the transition process.
  • What services they are able to deliver today—and how that differs from what was possible as employees at Morgan Stanley.
  • How the desire to be “true fiduciaries” played into their decision to break from Morgan Stanley—and why that remains at the core of their vision.
  • How their clients responded to leaving behind the Morgan Stanley brand—and how commitment and innovation were key to their clients’ acceptance.

Today, 6 Meridian is building their business their way, with access to “a landscape that’s bigger and wider than we ever thought it would be.” And while it wasn’t easy to walk away from their deferred compensation and the brokerage firm they built their business at, Margaret said, “We knew that long term, we were all going to be better off.”

Based on this conversation, 6 Meridian and their clients are well more than better off.

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Mindy Diamond is president & CEO of Diamond Consultants in Morristown, N.J., a nationally recognized boutique search and consulting firm in the financial services industry.

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