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Outlook 2023: Back to the (new) future

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The Stulberg Group

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Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management

The Stulberg Group leverages its 300+ combined years of experience to manage the finances of wealthy families and institutions throughout the country.  Through services we provide, we enable clients to focus on what truly matters to them – the purpose of their wealth.
The Stulberg Group

Since our group’s founding in the 1950’s by David Stulberg, we have guided families and institutions of considerable wealth through the most volatile of market cycles.  Our extreme focus on risk has helped clients protect assets and make smart decisions during inevitable periods of market declines.  This intense focus on risk and proactive investment management has enabled our relationships to endure throughout both generations of family and multiple market cycles.  

Operating similar to an outsourced CFO, The Stulberg Group has been entrusted with approximately $3 billion in assets (as of September 2022) with a goal of simplifying the financial affairs of our clients.  We achieve this through managing cash flows, constructing diversified investment portfolios, helping with financing/banking needs, and providing generalized estate planning strategies.  

While investing in the markets is an exercise filled with unknown variables, we constantly strive to navigate them with integrity, conservatism, conviction and collaboration.  We seek to establish long term relationships across generations driven by management of wealth on a truly personalized basis.

Patience and Conviction

A hallmark of our investment strategy is rooted in both patience and conviction.  We believe owning assets requires both these traits, which when held in concert with our value-based discipline, allow our clients to navigate through periods of volatility without sacrificing permanent loss of capital.  Simply stated, our goal is to help clients filter out near term volatility and noise related to uncontrollable market events, while keeping an eye on long term secular trends and investment goals. 

Unlike other manager strategies which create whipsaws from selling when the market is under pressure and buying when ebullient, we seek to avoid trading positions frequently.  Rather than reducing equity positions when equity markets weaken, we believe broad based volatility and downward market corrections provide opportunities to acquire assets at more reasonable valuations.  Summed up, we would rather sell on strength than on weakness.  When identifying investment opportunities, we constantly stress-test our investment thesis and adjust when appropriate.  It is this iterative process which drives us to continuously compare the risk of owning each asset versus alternatives and/or cash.  


Individualized Process

The Stulberg Group tailors portfolios on a custom basis for each client.  Simply put, what may be appropriate for some clients at one particular time may not be for others.  While we may utilize custom equity and total portfolio models across some portfolios, we always do so beginning with the risk profile and goals of each individual client.

When purchasing securities we place significant emphasis on the valuation paid for the asset, a metric which is constantly changing.  As such, we operate with flexibility on a one-off basis for many transactions, which over time creates a diversified portfolio of opportunistically acquired assets.

Comprehensive Management

The Stulberg Group provides comprehensive financial management, including individual goals-based strategies, customized investment portfolios, retirement planning, cash management tools and access to business banking.

Value Based Discipline

We invest assets across the entire capital structure with a focus on areas which appear most reasonably valued at the time of purchase.  Our investment process takes a prudent view on capital allocation and involves considerable analysis of downside risk.  When acquiring assets, we seek out those with margin of safety from a valuation standpoint and intend to hold them through an entire economic cycle.  

Portfolio Construction

The Stulberg Group leverages resources available through our relationship with Merrill while simultaneously maintaining an independent thought process geared for the sole benefit of our clients.  We utilize these resources from Merrill, many of which are exclusive to our clients, and other leading investment houses to create long term financial strategies which seek to produce successful risk-adjusted performance over time.  The average portfolio constructed for a high net worth and/or family foundation client will likely include a customized combination of the following:

  • Individual equities purchased opportunistically over time with a heavy focus on value based characteristics.
  • Fixed income which includes both traditional interest bearing instruments along with more esoteric structures.  In today’s low-rate environment we focus substantial effort towards identifying fixed income which may provide greater income, yet help provide protection from a return to more normalized rates.  Fixed income assets we purchase include municipals, corporates, CDs, preferreds, fixed/floating preferreds, step ups, and others. 
  • Ownership interests limited to Merrill clients across various private equity strategies and sponsors including Carlysle, Blackstone, Apax Partners, KKR, MacKay Shields and others.
  • Unique funds which invest across asset classes that may be difficult/inefficient to access on an individual basis (ie senior floating rate bank loans, leveraged/hedged emerging market equities, credit spreads, agency/non-agency mortgaged backed securities, etc.).
  • Structured notes based on indexes, commodities and/or companies which help provide downside protection and/or upside leverage. 




*Some or all alternative investment programs may not be in the best interest of certain investors. No assurance can be given that any alternative investment’s investment objectives will be achieved.

Recognition

Since the team's founding by David Stulberg in the 1950's, advisors in the group have been recognized as among the best in the industry. Prior to retiring in 2016, Robert Stulberg was ranked as a Barron's Top 100 Advisor in every year since the publication began it's rankings in 2004. This award recognized him as not only one of the top wealth managers in Michigan but also the country. Since Robert's retirement, Phil Appel has continued this tradition with similar recognitions. 

The team has a continuity not easily found in the investment world with no single senior member having left to pursue other opportunities other than retirement.



*Source: The Barron’s “Top 100 Financial Advisors” list, published annually Mar – April. Rankings based on data as of December 31 of prior year.

The Barron’s “Top 100 Financial Advisors” ranking considered advisors with a minimum of seven years financial services experience and who have been employed at their current firm for at least one year. Quantitative and qualitative measures used to determine the advisor rankings include: client assets, return on assets, client satisfaction/retention, compliance records, and community involvement, among others. Rankings are based on the opinions of Barron’s and not representative nor indicative of any one client’s experience, future performance, or investment outcome and should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. Barron’s does not receive compensation from advisors, participating firms and their affiliates, or the media in exchange for rankings. Rankings and recognition from Barron’s are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results, and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. Barron’s is a trademark of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Alternative Investments/Third Party Managers

One key differentiating factor between The Stulberg Group and other managers includes our significant alternative investments practice. Through partnering with Merrill, we are able to deliver our clients broad based access to some of the world’s most successful alternative managers including both private equity and hedge funds. We feel each of these market segments requires a dedicated team with requisite experience to successfully invest efficiently. We have and continue to invest alongside successful alternative sponsors including Oaktree, Blackstone, Carlysle, KKR, Apax and others.

A key tenant in our success rests from knowing what we can and cannot do effectively. We believe that while we are knowledgeable across most asset classes, some segments of the market require a larger specialty and focus. Alternative investments such as private equity, bank loans, aggressive hedging strategies and others require scale to both source deals and execute properly. Additionally, our team believes that while we are the gatekeepers of our clients’ assets, there are managers available which offer value and investment strategy that is additive to our direct investment process. We spend significant time conducting ongoing diligence with these selected managers in an effort to diversify across portfolios in a prudent manner with some of the most astute and successful investors in the world.


*Some or all alternative investment programs may not be in the best interest of certain investors. No assurance can be given that any alternative investment’s investment objectives will be achieved.

Capabilities

Our process is designed to help deliver a customized, consistent experience to assist clients not only in wealth accumulation and preservation, but in areas that go beyond investments. Our ability to provide access to the investment insights of Merrill, trust and fiduciary services from Bank of America Private Bank, and the banking convenience and lending solutions of Bank of America offers a way to help clients manage all of the pieces of their financial lives. We view ourselves as a financial resource, helping clients with potential solutions for transferring wealth to the younger generation.

Trust and fiduciary services are provided by Bank of America Private Bank, a division of Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC, and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”).

Recognition

Merrill is proud of our advisors who’ve received recognition from financial industry publications or directly from Bank of America Corporation. We believe they are setting the standard for exemplary client service.

Philip M Appel

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2018-2022
Published annually Jan- April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Barron's "Top 100 Financial Advisors" 2017-2018
Published annually March - April. Rankings based on data as of December 31 of prior year.

Barron's "Top 1,200 Financial Advisors: State-by-State" 2017-2022
Published annually in February - March. Rankings based on data as of September 30 of the prior year.

Forbes "America's Top Wealth Advisors" 2018-2019
Published annually Aug - Oct. Rankings based on data as of Mar 31 - June 30 of current year.

The Stulberg Group

Forbes “America’s Top Wealth Management Teams High Net Worth" 2022
Published on November 8, 2022. Rankings based on data as of March 31, 2022.*

Meet the Team

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

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.

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      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.


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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.

      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.