The numbers show that women make up 45 percent of the workforce and control 95 percent of financial decisions in households across America. “Women are more prone to worry about their families, health care costs and the ability to meet their financial goals given the uncertainties within the economy today, so the value of a trusted advisor serves a significant need for women,” says complex director Carole Wentz, who notes that Merrill Lynch has 28 female financial advisors serving the local market.
The significant role of women at Merrill Lynch is part of its commitment to offering a highly skilled and diverse group of professionals to clients, Wentz adds. More than 40 percent of the company’s local advisors have helped customers for 20-plus years. “And more than 50 percent of our advisors have multiple professional designations, which demonstrates the commitment they have to sharpen skills and better serve our clients every day,” Wentz says.
Merrill Lynch’s diverse employee base takes a holistic approach to client service, including customized financial strategizing—from wealth management, credit and lending, estate planning, investments and life insurance to trust services. Advisors work to develop a professional relationship with clients through one-on-one meetings at three area branches—Ladue, Clayton and Chesterfield. The company serves three client segments: ultra-high net-worth, $10 million-plus; high net-worth, $250,000 to $10 million; and corporate and institutions, including small, medium and large companies. “We look at a client’s dreams and goals from a financial perspective, then we build a strategy to fit those needs,” Wentz says. “After constructing a customized wealth strategy, our long-term job is to stay with the client, review their strategy and make sure they stay on track for what they want to achieve for the long haul.”
For tech-savvy clients who desire 24/7 access to their financial strategies and portfolios, Merrill Lynch offers the My Merrill website, where they can review their information and have online chats with financial advisors. “The site allows us to serve the client the way they want to be served,” Wentz notes. “And clients love it because they no longer have to go into a branch. For instance, they can scan a check on their iPhone or iPad to transfer funds.”
While cutting-edge technology has made financial strategizing easy and efficient, Wentz notes that the Merrill Lynch branches are always still open for the cases where nothing beats a face-to-face meeting. “After all, this is their money and their financial future.”