Sound View Wealth Advisors
Betting on the Long-Term: Former Merrill Resident Director Shares Why Her $1B Team Broke Away
“If we’re going to do this for the next 20 years, it can’t be here at Merrill.”
It was a decision that Melissa Bouchillon and her husband Kelly didn’t take lightly. Especially as a loyal Resident Director for the firm. And, also, because leaving meant a portion of their assets would stay behind.
Or the way she put it, “Shrinking with an intent to grow.”
- 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.
- And ultimately how a producing manager or Resident Director can remain loyal to the firm—and still embark upon exploration of other options.
Founder & Chief Executive Officer
Brandywine Oak Private Wealth
A Diehard Merrill Advisor’s Journey to Independence
“We have to do what’s right for our clients and we have to keep our team happy.”
Like many other advisors who chose to go independent, Michael Henley found himself at a point in his wirehouse career when his professional life became more about “jumping through hoops” for the bank than it was about doing what was best for his clients.
The culture had changed enough that he felt his ability to conduct business in a way that was “objective and conflict-free” was no longer possible.
So at just 34-years old, this self-proclaimed “diehard Merrill Lynch advisor” – the leader of a team with a partner less than 10 years from retirement – had some tough decisions to make.
- Why his team, with one member nearing retirement, chose independence over Merrill’s CTP program—and what they did to make “go versus stay” worthwhile.
- How they reconciled walking away from significant deferred compensation—and how they resolved both start-up costs as well as salaries in the short-term.
- Why he felt limited in his ability to serve his clients—and how a move to the independent space solved for that.
- Why so many younger advisors like him are making the leap so early in their careers—and why it’s a trend that’s likely to continue.
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Evans
Evans May Wealth
Growing Up with Merrill Lynch: A Next-Gen Breakaway Story
“The inheriting advisor needs to recognize they’re going to put in a tremendous amount of work into something that they ultimately do not own.”
Elizabeth “Lizzie” Evans’ father was a 45-year veteran at Merrill Lynch—and built a practice that was literally a big part of Lizzie’s childhood. She later joined the “family business,” working at Merrill for 7-1/2 years with her father and now partner, Brooke May.
Then the “family feeling” at the firm started to disappear and the team was also becoming increasingly limited on what they could do to serve their clients and grow their business.
And with her father having signed on to Merrill’s Client Transition Program (CTP), the firm’s retire-in-place agreement, she found herself at a crossroads.
- What senior advisors and next gen inheritors need to ask themselves when confronted with a sunset package—and how, as Lizzie shares, next gen advisors need to realize they are agreeing to “buy something they will ultimately not own.”
- What the real drivers were behind their decision to leave Merrill—and why they opted for independence instead of a recruiting deal at another firm, particularly at such a young age.
- What Evans May Wealth can do now that they could not do as employees of Merrill—and how that’s been a real gamechanger for their business.