Merger Ensures Clients' Continuity

March 12, 2004
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GRAND RAPIDS — The merger of Varnum Consulting LLC and a small financial and trust administration company reportedly provides both firms the ability to offer more to their clients.

Van Dongen & Associates and Varnum Consulting completed their merger in late December.

Van Dongen will work with Varnum Consulting, a three-year-old, wholly owned subsidiary of the law firm Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett LLP, to integrate the services of both firms.

To Van Dongen & Associates, the partnership provides a continuity of service for clients for when founder Robert Van Dongen retires or moves on.

“When you take on the responsibility of managing someone’s affairs, you really make a commitment to do it for their life,” said Van Dongen, who founded the firm 12 years ago and has 34 years of experience in financial and trust administration.

“This assures the service is always going to be there.”

Though the small firm is now linked to Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett, Van Dongen said, “We’re not looking for clients to upstream to the law firm.”

“While we certainly realize there will be a strong tie to the Varnum law firm, the focus of Van Dongen & Associates will continue to be providing unbiased and impartial service to individuals without attempting to interrupt the client’s relationship with other professional advisers, including law firms,” he said.

Van Dongen and his co-worker, Geralyn Pasi — who has nearly 20 years of experience in trust administration at large and small banks — will continue to work out of the company’s office in the McKay Tower in downtown Grand Rapids.

“The talent and experience they bring to our table will be invaluable,” said Tom Kyros, chairman of the estate-planning group at Varnum, Riddering, Schmidt and Howlett.

He said the merger complements and will enhance the present array of estate planning, fiduciary and tax services the law firm now offers, as well as Varnum Consulting’s wealth management services.    

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