Michael Trienen, 34, used to love playing StarCraft, studied computer science in college, and thought he was “going to write a piece of software that was going to change the world.” He changed his mind after a brief stint in between his sophomore and junior year’s in college. “I had an internship where I was writing code with my headphones on, 10 hours at a time,” he says. The glamour quickly wore off.
Trienen grew up on a farm in Sidney, Neb., a small town of about 6,500. He learned early on the value of hard work and credits both parents for their input. “My strong work ethic and compassion for others is a combination of influences from my father and mother,” he says.
Trienen’s dad managed Cabela’s computer department by day, and would come home, eat and then do farm work until 8 or 9 p.m. “He taught us to keep working until the job was done,” Trienen says. His mom, who worked in early childhood development in the public schools, visited some of the community’s poorest families and would organize clothing, toys, and food for them. “I have tried to mirror their values,” Trienen says.
He attended college at the University of Denver, and while there, he cut his teeth on community service, spending three weeks over a spring break volunteering in a Tibetan refugee community in Dharamsala, India. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA and was then recruited by a Chicago-based consulting company. One of the youngest consultants in the office, he was soon promoted to senior consultant and worked on multi-billion dollar litigations.
He and his wife Annie then decided they wanted a change of lifestyle and moved to Boise, joining Merrill Lynch April 1, 2008 – just in time for the financial crisis. “I started my career in financial services four months before it turned into disaster,” Trienen says. “It was a learning experience, that’s for sure. I do remember thinking, ‘what have I done?’”
Trienen, who has always been inspired by this quote: “dangle the undoable in front of the world, then consider it done,” says that “there are few things more undoable in my industry than surviving a financial crisis as a brand new financial advisor.” He not only survived, but has thrived. In 2012, after “thousands of hours of study and seven exams” he received one of the industry’s most prestigious and hardest to achieve designations, the Certified Financial Advisor designation. Today, Trienen is one of the most successful financial advisors in the region.
“My long-term goal is to ethically and responsibly grow my business,” he says.
Trienen points to his business partner Sandy Dalton as a major influencer. Dalton was the largest revenue producing financial advisor in the region for Merrill Lynch, and was ranked by Barron’s magazine as the number one financial advisor in Idaho. “My goal is to be on that list someday,” Trienen says.
Trienen is also active in the community: Leadership Boise, Boise Young Professionals and the Catholic Foundation Investment Committee. He also serves on the board of Caring Hearts and Hands of Hope, a nonprofit started by Vincent Kituku that provides education and support to orphaned children in Kenya. “We have over 150 students we sponsor,” he says. “We’re working on a capital campaign to start a school there. We have a real impact on these students, these girls who are halfway around the world.”
But it is his family Trienen holds in the highest regard. He and his wife, Annie, have three children: Caleb, 6; Hailey, 3; and Joey, 10 months.
“Everything that I do is for them,” he says. “My biggest accomplishment will be seeing my children have passion for what interests them and compassion to make this world a better place.”
Most memorable airplane trip: “(It) was an Air India flight from Singapore that I took with a group of college classmates on our way to do volunteer work in India. The plane seemed like it was too old to fly and my seat wobbled, but we were all too excited to be scared. The food was actually quite good and we made it there without any problems.”