A conversation with Melissa Bouchillon, CFP®, Managing Partner, Sound View Wealth Advisors
There’s no doubt that the wirehouses provide a solid foundation for building a wealth management business. In fact, a recent Fidelity study shows that these massive firms employ some of the industry’s most productive advisors.
Yet, for all that the big brokerages offer, advisors are still feeling limited in their ability to serve their clients and grow their businesses as they see fit.
And regardless of the ties that bind them, movement out of the space continues to rise.
For example, the guest on this episode was a producing manager at Merrill Lynch, running their office in Savannah, Georgia. As Resident Director and Market Leader, one of Melissa Bouchillon’s roles was to “encourage advisors” to sell bank products to their clients.
Yet over time, her marching orders from the bank started to feel manipulative—the weight of which she could no longer take.
In a conversation with her husband Kelly, who was part of the team, they came to the following conclusion: “If we’re going to do this for the next 20 years, it can’t be here at Merrill.”
So, in March of 2018, they made the leap to independence, launching Sound View Wealth Advisors in Savannah.
But it wasn’t all that simple: They had one member of their team in Merrill’s retire-in-place program CTP and would need cash upfront to repay the firm—as well as leave some assets behind.
In this episode, Melissa discusses that decision in-depth, plus:
- What changed at Merrill—and how those pushes led them to acknowledge the pulls towards independence.
- How they were able to compensate a member of their team who recently signed on to CTP—and how “honoring their commitments” to this advisor drove their decision-making process.
- Why they chose to partner with Focus Financial—and the benefits of supported independence for those considering the leap.
- How a producing manager or Resident Director can remain loyal to the firm—and still embark upon exploration of other options.
And ultimately, they made a conscious decision to leave $150mm of their $1B in assets behind—essentially shrinking with the intent to grow. And grow they did, projecting to be at $950mm by the end of 2020.
Melissa shared so many words of wisdom, but most compelling was her thoughts about the psychological shift required to be a successful independent business owner: It’s about going from the mindset of an advisor who is focused on asset growth to the mindset of a fiduciary—which is all about how to serve clients best.
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Melissa co-founded Sound View Wealth Advisors to create an independent, boutique, client-focused firm. She truly cares about her clients and creating a positive impact on their financial lives. Melissa spends a lot of time getting to know her clients’ goals in order to create detailed, customized financial plans that incorporate all aspects, including cash flow management, gifting strategies and estate planning techniques aimed at providing intergenerational help to families to secure their financial futures. This plan then serves as a roadmap to build out customized investment strategies that help protect and preserve her clients’ wealth.
Before Sound View Wealth Advisors, Ms. Bouchillon joined Merrill Lynch in 2004. During her time at Merrill Lynch, she served as a First Vice President-Wealth Management with the Bouchillon, Ham & Dekle Group and Senior Resident Director managing the Skidaway Island Office. She is a Certified Financial Planner™ , a designation awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.
In addition to her passion for helping her clients, Melissa is on the board of organizations near and dear to her heart, including the Landings Military Relief Fund, Marshes of Skidaway Island and the Savannah Music Festival. She is a wife and mother, an active runner and an avid volunteer.