Investing: Where do I even start?

In this #WomenInvested Meet Up, hear tips on how to begin your investing journey – or take it to the next level

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Meet Our Group

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

Where do we begin? It starts with you.

At Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, your financial advisor focuses on the things you care about most- family, goals and priorities - even as they change over the years.

Understanding Your Life


The Tonascia group is a four person team of seasoned financial professionals dedicated to providing sound financial advice and guidance to affluent individuals and families in Northern California. The scope and diversity of our team puts us in the unique position to provide advice and recommendations. While we are large enough to fully utilize the global resources and capabilities of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, we are also small enough to continue developing the deep relationships our clients expect and deserve.

Our team provides individualized advice and guidance to clients in need of:

- Concentrated equity risk management
- Wealth accumulation and gifting strategies
- Retirement income planning and cash flow analysis
- Wealth distribution and estate planning services
- Asset preservation
- Tax minimization strategies

Our Process

In our role as your wealth management advisor, we use a goals-based approach to help you articulate and prioritize your objectives. Once your goals are defined, we develop a plan aligned with your tolerance for risk, implement it, and regularly review and track your progress.

Our process begins with listening and asking questions to learn about you, your family, and your business and professional life. We will drill down to discover what matters the most to you. Our goal is to create a complete picture, so we can work together to establish a list of objectives, such as tax minimization, retirement income planning, funding education expenses, and passing wealth to the next generation.

Once we understand where you want to go, we will work together to create a plan to help you get there. We will help you build a strategy that incorporates your time horizon, risk tolerance, and liquidity needs, while setting realistic expectations about investment performance.

With a strategy in place, we then begin to make investment recommendations. We make our investment decisions with a great deal of thought and deliberation. Proposals are custom made on a client by client basis. To help us make these investment decisions, we use BofA Global Research as well as several outside sources. Our individualized screening process includes reviewing asset allocations, portfolio composition, and investment management. We will develop a relationship with your outside tax advisor, attorney, and other professionals you count on.  

*Any information presented in connection with BofA Global Research is general in nature and is not intended to provide personal investment advice. The information does not take into account the specific investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs of any specific person who may receive it. Investors should understand that statements regarding future prospects may not be realized. BofA Global Research is research produced by BofA Securities, Inc. (“BofAS”) and/or one or more of its affiliates. BofAS is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC, and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. BofA Global Research does and seeks to do business with companies covered in its research reports. As a result, investors should be aware that the firm may have a conflict of interest that could affect the objectivity of this report. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision.


Wealth Allocation Philosophy

In order to help a client reach their goals, we believe it is necessary to isolate the asset allocation question by dividing each of these goals into three different segments: essential, important, and aspirational. All segments of the portfolio take into account every clients own time horizon, liquidity needs, and risk tolerance.


The essential segment of a client’s portfolio focuses on their lifestyle capital needs. This portion includes essential needs such as putting children through college, paying a mortgage, covering healthcare costs, and maintaining a lifestyle in retirement. In general, this portion is designed to help lower risk, preserve assets, and provide reliable cash flow to clients. We believe in using a conservative approach, such as investing in bonds or municipals, when allocating for a client’s most essential needs.


The important segment of a client’s portfolio focuses on needs that are critical, but have a bit more flexibility in when or how they are paid for. Typically, the goal of this portion of the portfolio is to use equity to grow a client’s assets. Diversification is the key when making portfolio recommendations. In our view, it is the most effective way to grow a portfolio. We may recommend money managers and individual securities to help a client reach their important goals.


The aspirational segment of a client’s portfolio is used for wants instead of needs, such as purchasing a second home, or taking a trip around the world. This portion focuses on investing the assets that are left after all other capital needs of a client are met. Generally, the objective of this portion is to capture upside potential in the market by assuming higher risk.


Managing wealth requires integrity, talent, experience, and access to a broad range of resources. We offer advice and a full range of investment services, including the flexibility to manage portfolios with your input or manage for you on a discretionary basis. The Tonascia, Kruse, Theilade Group has an open and flexible structure. In order to best serve you, we rely on the insight and knowledge of our entire group. Although you have a main contact, any of us can assist you when you call with a question or request.

Staying on Track

We understand that both your life and the financial markets can change over time. By checking in to discuss changes in your life and revisiting your financial approach, our goal is to help you stay on track to achieve what's most important to you.

Reviews to help you
stay on track

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

    Changes in your life
    and to your goals

    Your life and goals change. As these changes occur, we can update your approach to reflect them.


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

    Your advisor is a click away within our site or mobile apps

    You can 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’s asset aggregation tool

      Let’s Have a Conversation

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

      Why Merrill?

      As Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisors, we will sort through the financial complexities of your life, helping you build a customized investment approach to address your needs and pursue your goals.


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

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      Transcript of Video 

      No question too big or moment too small
      For every question you have, every decision you make and every answer you need, we are with you to listen and help guide you along the many paths your life can take. Watch this video to see some questions we can address together.

      The Power of the Right Advisor®
      Working with a dedicated Merrill advisor means you get personalized investment strategies from Merrill plus access to comprehensive financial solutions only Bank of America can deliver.

      Personalized advice from a dedicated financial advisor.

      We get to know you and your family, your financial situation and what matters most to you.

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

      Drawing from our experience and the best thinking of Merrill, together we will design an approach that reflects your unique needs, priorities and financial situation.

      Adjusting your investment approach as your life and the markets change.

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