The Special Needs Team

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The Special Needs Team

Located in multiple offices throughout California, we are a deeply experienced team dedicated to improving the long-term well-being of society’s most vulnerable: people with disabilities, elderly individuals with dementia, accident victims, and other special-needs populations by offering financial advice and guidance.

Welcome

We are a dedicated group of financial advisors and client associates who work closely with other special-needs professionals and family members to improve the long-term well-being of individuals who are unable to care for themselves. Our work is more than a profession — it’s a passion. For decades we have focused on providing financial strategies to address the challenges and issues that you and your clients face.

We understand the implications of the Uniform Prudent Investment Act, California Probate Code, California Rules of the Court and National Guardianship Standards. We help professional advisors and family members institute investment standards through process-oriented investing that is well documented, regularly revisited, and clearly communicated.

Speak to us for a few minutes, and you may quickly perceive how we can help alleviate some key financial challenges that special-needs clients—and their support network—face. We have extensive experience collaborating with Private Professional Fiduciaries, Corporate Trustees, Estate Planning Attorneys, and Personal Injury Attorneys.

The Special Needs Team, when appropriate, works with other advisors for specific clients' situations. Three such people are:

Donovan Filpi, CFP®, CRPC®

Assistant Vice President
Wealth Management Advisor
Donovan Headshot 2018 custom tab 2.jpgDonovan Filpi is a Wealth Management Advisor and Assistant Vice President at Merrill Lynch. Donovan works closely with clients in Orange County and San Diego, developing customized strategies to help them identify their life goals and pursue those objectives with clarity and resolve. He enjoys developing long-term relationships that attest to his deep-seated interest in the comfort and well-being of clients, their family members, and wider support team.

Donovan regularly meets with clients to help them identify gaps in their current wealth framework, delineating options to resolve issues and advance priorities. He takes great satisfaction in helping clients gain momentum toward their goals, periodically adjusting strategies and tactics to reflect changing circumstances.

Donovan has worked in financial services since 2005 and joined Merrill Lynch in 2006. He earned his B.A. in Psychology with a specialization in Business from UCLA. Donovan is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant, a designation awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. He also holds the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning.*

Donovan lives in San Marcos, California, with his wife Jessica and their sons Luca and Gianni.

*Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the U.S.
*CRPC® and Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM are registered service marks of the College for Financial Planning.



Paul Bartschi
Vice President
Senior Financial Advisor
Paul headshot 2018 custom tab 2.jpgPaul Bartschi is a Senior Financial Advisor and Vice President at Merrill Lynch. Paul works closely with trust attorneys and fiduciaries in the Greater Los Angeles area, helping them better serve their clients by developing customized financial roadmaps that reflect each client’s unique needs and priorities. He is skilled in anticipating critical decision points in a client’s financial life, assembling the information and resources that facilitate informed analysis and cohesive tactics. A clear communicator, Paul enjoys unwinding complexity, assisting clients in developing a more purposeful path forward.

Paul began his wealth management career in 2001 at Morgan Stanley. Four years later, he moved to Merrill Lynch. He earned his undergraduate degree in Political Science from California State University, Sacramento, and his M.B.A. with a concentration in Finance from California Lutheran University.

Paul lives in Camarillo, California, with his wife Sarah and their daughters, Ashley, Briana, and Isabella. A committed volunteer, Paul supports various charitable organizations and serves in his ecclesiastical leadership. He is a current board member and former chairman of the Boys and Girls Club of Camarillo. In his free time, he enjoys boating and motorcycle riding.


John Schoeppach, CFP®, CRPC®
Senior Resident Director
Senior Vice President
John Headshot 2 custom tab 2.jpgJohn Schoeppach is a Senior Vice President and Senior Resident Director at Merrill Lynch. Headquartered in Folsom, California, John leads the team’s outreach within Sacramento, Northern California, and Nevada.

Closely attuned to the distinctive needs of special-needs, disabled, and elderly individuals, John develops tailored financial strategies designed to help promote their long-term financial security and well-being. He brings extensive knowledge of wealth strategy and investment management for Special Needs Trusts and other court-supervised trusts, as well as probate investing for Conservatorships and Guardianships.

John’s areas of focus also include California Probate Code restrictions on investments, as well as the terms of the Uniform Prudent Investor Act. Active in the community, John facilitates ongoing education for disability organizations, attorneys, professional fiduciaries, and CPAs.
John is a graduate of the United States Military Academy, West Point, and is a Retired Lieutenant Colonel and Airborne Ranger. He joined Merrill Lynch in 1991. In addition to his advisory responsibilities, John serves as Senior Resident Director, a leadership role within the firm. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificant, a designation awarded by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. and holds the Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM designation.*

*Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™in the U.S.
*CRPC® and Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM are registered service marks of the College for Financial Planning.

*Neither Merrill Lynch nor its Financial Advisors provide tax, accounting or legal advice.  Clients should review any planned financial transactions or arrangements that may have tax, accounting or legal implications with their personal professional advisors.

Services for Private Professional Fiduciaries

We work closely with Private Professional Fiduciaries to promote the long-term well-being of beneficiaries through process-based investing and committed service.

We are skilled in the following areas:

  • Upholding the “prudent-investor” standard through rigorous wealth planning, a needs-based analysis that reflects the unique requirements of each client, and targeted risk levels and asset allocations based on those objectives, including risk tolerance, liquidity needs and time horizon.
  • Documenting the processes for the deployment and diversification of client assets, as well as ongoing performance analysis through formal reviews.
  • Developing tax-sensitive investment strategies, working in concert with your CPA, as appropriate.*
*Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions

Services for Estate Planning Attorneys

We help estate planning attorneys mediate conflicts among family members, drawing on our extensive knowledge of successor trusteeship and sub-trust issues.

Through customized financial strategies, we provide a rational process for balancing the needs of current and remainder beneficiaries, and promote the timely resolution of disputes among litigating parties.

We are skilled in the following areas:

  • Helping to mediate conflicts between family members by integrating long-term financial analysis and wealth management planning into decision-making frameworks
  • Serving as a neutral third-party that offers a documented process for evaluating financial decisions using quantitative analysis and fact-based market conditions
  • Creating detailed scenario analyses and “what if” frameworks that can help litigants move toward timely resolutions of disputes
  • Analyzing existing investment strategies relative to risk tolerance, liquidity needs, objectives, and time horizon.
  • Developing tax-sensitive investment strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and monitoring

Services for Personal Injury Attorneys

We help personal injury attorneys analyze and anticipate the long-term financial needs of their clients, with the goal of promoting a continuum of care that is thoroughly researched and thoughtfully derived.

Through customized financial strategies, we can help contribute to fact-based settlement planning, grounding our analysis in the unique long-range needs of each client and the distinct characteristics of various settlement instruments.

We are skilled in the following areas:

  • Creating detailed scenario analyses that evaluate the long-range needs of a plaintiff relative to the risk, fee, and return characteristics of various settlement options
  • Serving as a neutral third-party that offers a documented process for evaluating financial decisions using quantitative analysis and fact-based market conditions
  • Developing tax-sensitive investment strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and monitoring*
*Neither Merrill Lynch nor any of its affiliates or financial advisors provide legal, tax or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions

 

Services for Families with a Special Needs Loved One

We intimately understand the challenges and issues that families face in pursuing a more secure financial future for children, parents, siblings, or other loved ones.

We believe our strength in this area is demonstrated in the following ways:

  • Our extensive experience. Our team’s founder, Scott MacDonald, has spent more than 30 years addressing the unique needs of the clients we serve. Our advisors and associates are deeply immersed in the intricacies and insights that distinguish our service model.
  • Our focus. We exclusively support special-needs, accident-victim, and elder-care populations. We believe this concentration has intensified our ability to inform, educate, and advise the families we serve.
  • Our effective collaboration with a family’s external advisory team, including private professional trustees, attorneys, care managers, benefits counselors, and other client advocates.
  • Our long-term support of the Society for disABILITIES, ARC of San Francisco, Parents Helping Parents, Down Syndrome Information Alliance, and many other community organizations.
  • The intellectual capital we contribute through industry articles and presentations.
  • We understand the implications of the Uniform Prudent Investment Act, California Probate Code, California Rules of the Court and National Guardianship Standards. We have helped families implement investment standards through process-oriented investing that is well documented, regularly revisited, and clearly communicated.


How we can help:

  • Applying our understanding of the intricacies of conservatorships, guardianships, special needs trusts and other court-supervised accounts.
  • Conducting rigorous wealth planning, a needs-based analysis that reflects the unique requirements of each client, and targeted risk levels and asset allocations based on those objectives.
  • Documenting the processes for the deployment and diversification of client assets, as well as ongoing performance analysis through formal reviews.
  • Developing tax-sensitive investment strategies with documented processes for investment evaluation, selection, and monitoring.*

Meet the Team

Supported by the global resources of Merrill Lynch, our team is comprised of talented and experienced individuals committed to building strong client relationships based on trust and personalized service.

Scott M MacDonald

Scott M MacDonald

Senior Financial Advisor

209.578.2625
Daniel M Cutter

Daniel M Cutter

Senior Financial Advisor

415.676.2535
Kristie J Brown

Kristie J Brown

Financial Advisor

209.578.2611
Emily A Vierra

Emily A Vierra

Financial Advisor

209.578.2640
Eriona  Dhimitri

Eriona Dhimitri

Analyst - Relationship Mgt

209.578.2633
Julia  Ridgway

Julia Ridgway

Registered Client Associate

209.578.2674
Debbie Hendrix

Debbie Hendrix

Client Associate

209.578.2627
Michael M Joseph

Michael M Joseph

Client Associate

209.578.2649

Your Financial Strategy

We offer you access to the investing insights of Merrill Lynch, trust and fiduciary services from U.S. Trust, and the banking convenience of Bank of America to help you pursue your goals. We will work to help you stay on track, regardless of what the markets are doing.

FAMILY
FAMILY
Taking care of your family and other people in your life
  • Trust & Estate Services2
  • Education Funding Strategies1
  • Insurance3
HEALTH
HEALTH
Planning for healthcare expenses now and in the future
  • Long-term Care Insurance3
  • Health Savings Account2
  • Disability Insurance3
HOME
HOME
Upsizing, downsizing, remodeling or buying a vacation home
  • Home Loans2
  • Home Equity Lines of Credit2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Credit Cards2
WORK
WORK
Working in retirement, selling or starting a business
  • Bank of America Business Banking2
  • Exchange Funds1
  • Concentrated Stock Management1
  • Succession Planning1
LEISURE
LEISURE
Spending your free time in meaningful ways
  • Credit Cards2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Structured Lending2
GIVING
GIVING
Volunteering, mentoring others and giving to charities
  • Donor-Advised Funds2
  • Private Foundations2
  • Charitable Trusts2
FINANCE
FINANCE
Using your finances to bring it all together
  • Merrill Lynch Investment Accounts1
  • Investment Advisory Accounts1
  • Alternative Investments1
  • Exchange-Traded Funds1
  • Mutual Funds1
  • Closed-end Funds1
  • Fixed Income Products1
  • Options1
  • Annuities3
  • Impact Portfolios1
  • Market-Linked Investments1
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Margin1
  • Home Loans2
  • Bank of America Checking and Savings Accounts2
  • Credit Cards2
  • Online Account Access1,2

1Investment products are offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.
2Banking products are offered by Bank of America, N.A.
3Insurance and annuity products offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.

Staying on Track

We understand that both your life and the financial markets can change over time. By periodically checking in to discuss changes in your life and revisiting your financial strategy, our goal is to help give you peace of mind* that you're on track to help achieve what's most important to you.

Regular reviews to help you stay on track
Regular reviews to help you stay on track

We'll meet with you periodically to review your goals and the progress you’ve made toward reaching them. We'll also discuss any adjustments needed to your financial strategy to help you stay on course.

  • Sample client review agenda
  • Sample Wealth Outlook Report
Monitoring changes in your life and to your goals
Monitoring changes in your life and to your goals

Your life and goals change. We can help you keep track of these changes so they can be reflected in your financial strategy.

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Access to what you need, when you need it

MyMerrill is your destination for access to your financial information, secure communications, and a robust offering of tools and capabilities.

  • Your advisor is never more than a click away within our site or mobile apps
  • Manage account security with our customizable security capabilities such as touch id, one time passcode, and other security features
  • Access to your complete financial life is available with My Financial Picture, Merrill Lynch’s asset aggregation tool

*Peace of mind is an aspirational state of mind that clients hope to achieve. There are no guaranteed results following completion of the Goals-Based Wealth Management process because markets can fluctuate and investments can lose value. Advisors work with clients to help them understand how the goals based wealth management process can help to address their concerns, financial situation and priorities.

Let’s Have a Conversation

Helping you reach your goals starts with getting to know you personally. Through understanding what matters most to you, we can help you create a financial strategy that reflects your personality. Only then can we offer an approach that is built around your life priorities and the ongoing advice you need to help you manage fluctuations in the market and changes in your life. Let’s work together to help you achieve your goals.

Why Merrill Lynch?

As Merrill Lynch financial advisors, we will sort through the financial complexities of your life, helping you build a customized investment strategy to pursue your goals.


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We put you first, every day.
Learn more about the dedicated one-on-one relationship you can have with a Merrill Lynch financial advisor.





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Personalized advice from a dedicated financial advisor.

Getting to know you is our primary goal.

A comprehensive approach, built around your life’s priorities.

Drawing from our experience and the best thinking of Merrill Lynch, we will build a strategy that reflects your unique needs, priorities and financial situation.

Adjusting your plan as your life and the markets change.

We will work to help you stay on track, regardless of what the markets are doing.