In the business world, great partnerships are legend. Companies like Smith & Wesson, Hewlett Packard, Ben & Jerry’s, and of course Apple (Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs) have all proved that two heads are better than one when it comes to product development and market growth. But can it also matter in personal service industries, especially financial planning and investment?
Colorado-based investment professionals George Wood and Wally Obermeyer have proven that their merger in 2014 resulting in Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel, LLLP, with their Denver office located in one of Cherry Creek North’s most spectacular new digs, was destiny. Their combined expertise and experience in the investment counseling field has exceeded expectations that neither former company executive ever anticipated.
“I first met Wally Obermeyer,” said Wood, co-chairman, “through a mutual client. I learned quickly that Wally was a great investor. We started a long-term friendship and the more we got to know each other, the more we respected one another. The decision to combine forces was mutual; we thought it would be good for business and lots of fun.”
One visit to their 6th floor offices at 200 Columbine can attest to the fact that it’s clearly been both. The partners have every right to bask in the remarkable ascent the company has enjoyed since the merger. Their client list reads like “who’s who” in Colorado and the current company now includes a staff of 18, including seven partners, an attorney, Charlton Rugg, who helps assure the firm’s compliance, and two young women, Dana Nightingale, CFA, and Maia Babbs, CFA, each ideally suited to work with their increasing millennial-era clientele and those feeling more at ease with a female counselor.
“All of our analysts have unique specialties,” said Wood. “Plus, we try to cross-pollinate and team consult, making sure someone is always available for our clients at all times.”
But credit for the company’s highly respected reputation goes to the original two founders themselves, as well as affable team member Lee (Skip) Dines, Jr., senior vice president. From the first welcoming handshake to the warm, Colorado-inspired interior filled with original landscape paintings of the state, you know you’re not in some Wall Street wealth management firm. Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel is the modern West personified; sophisticated, savvy, yet down-to earth, serving clients all over America and abroad.
George Wood was born in Wyoming and attended the Colorado School of Mines, where he majored in engineering. An interest in the stock market led him back to school and into a partnership in Chicago in 1969, and later into business with State Farm. But his love of the mountains brought him to Denver in the 1980s and he decided to stay. With no clients and no platform, but a large measure of true grit, he started Wood Investment Counsel, and built the business one step at a time. Today’s substantial portfolio and exclusive client list attest to the benefits of his persistent hard work and commitment, drawing on experience that’s cumulative.
Obermeyer, of Aspen, and son of the legendary skiwear mogul Klaus Obermeyer, grew up in the business world. (His father, at 97, is in fact, still working.) By the time Wally started Obermeyer Asset Management Co. in 1997, he had a solid understanding of what it meant to both build a business and also transition out of one, something his varied clientele occasionally have to grapple with. An avid pilot and outdoorsman, Obermeyer found himself flying to Denver often since the skiwear company had a manufacturing facility and still has a distribution center here. His investment counseling office opened a branch to handle Denver clients, and the rest, as they say, is history.
“We use the word ‘counsel’ in our company name for a reason,” explained Obermeyer. “We try to look at the big picture; coordinate with attorneys, facilitate family meetings, and provide a sense of security. Circumstances that often require our counsel revolve round recent widowhood, sudden death, matters of succession, inheritance and more. We advise that it’s never too early for younger generations in our clients’ families to begin working with an investment counselor.”
The company’s new clients mostly come through referrals, other clients and the professional community. “What I really love most,” added Obermeyer, “is being able to help people. It’s intellectually stimulating, but even more, there’s the joy of meeting the most interesting people and better understanding the human condition, helping to realize an individual’s hopes and dreams. Rather than perpetuating an older generation’s management of funds far into the future (what we like to call ‘managing from the grave’), we have a huge amount of faith in the ability of individuals to grow into responsibility. That means believe in them, prepare and teach them, and give them time.”
Clearly Obermeyer Wood Investment Counsel has a modern twist on a traditional industry.
Corinne Joy Brown writes about design, architecture, travel and things that matter for a variety of local and national magazines.
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