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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Jessica Cohen

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Insights, observations, and ideas to help you in your pursuit of your financial goals.

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Ideas and Insights to guide you on your financial journey

Profile

Introduction:
I believe that every client is different. Everybody has their own story, goals, and knowledge.

Some families work with us because their busy lives don't give them the time to devise and stay consistent with their financial goals.

Some families work with us because they acknowledge that financial planning is essential for a roadmap toward financial success, but this planning and consistency may not be of personal interest to them.

Others work with us because they want to gain the financial knowledge through our ongoing discussions about "why" we're suggesting different avenues.

And some work with us because they want a financial roadmap, which we create specifically for every client's special situation via our proprietary financial planning software "Personal Wealth Analysis."

Some people work with us for the convenience of Merrill's customized financial services, our personal boutique-like experience working with a family team, while also enjoying a broad array of financial services provided through Merrill Lynch Wealth Management and the banking convenience of Bank of America, N.A.

What is your story and what are you looking for in your financial planning and investing journey? We're here to help!

Who are we?
We are The Cohen Group, a team of individuals (technically family) with experience, certifications and knowledge, and reliability.

With more than seven decades of combined experience, our dedication to helping families across the country at various stages in their lives has translated into long-standing relationships, many of which span three and four generations. Some of our clients are raising families, accumulating wealth and planning their financial futures, while others are more focused on retirement income, asset preservation or protecting a legacy for future generations. While every client is unique in their circumstances, our mission is to offer straightforward answers and strategies that lead to smarter, more informed decisions.

We know there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to personal finance. That’s why the recommendations we make are customized to your unique and specific objectives and will adapt as your priorities change. Once your strategy is in place, we continually oversee its progress relative to your defined objectives and suggest any changes where needed. We accomplish this through periodic reviews with you throughout the year, either in person or via telephone, Zoom, or Webex. A key to this step is your involvement and communication of any significant changes in your life.

We pledge to remain a constant in your life, and we’re here to guide you and your family today and in the future. We welcome the opportunity to speak with you and show you how we can be a valued resource for every stage of your financial life.

Jessica W Cohen, CFP®, CRPC
Senior Vice President
Wealth Management Advisor

Jessica is a Senior Vice President and a Wealth Management Advisor with The Cohen Group. Prior to joining the group in 2014, she was a Certified Public Accountant at Ernst & Young, LLP. Today, Jessica is proud to be part of a multigenerational family team, working alongside her father, Gary.

Serving the needs of multi-generational families across the country, Jessica is passionate about understanding every client’s unique story. She enjoys working with clients of all ages to focus on financial matters affecting them. Her mission is to help clients pursue their financial goals and establish their desired legacy through a consultative process.

With a background in accounting, Jessica can work with clients’ CPAs to assist with various financial investment questions. She applies her experience to help owners of privately held companies address the unique challenges associated with running a business and can provide professional oversight for retirement income planning strategies, cash management or accumulation, key person insurance, custom lending solutions, or as they prepare for the transfer or sale of their company.

Jessica graduated with distinction from Goizueta Business School at Emory University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance and accounting before receiving her Master of Accountancy from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER, CFP® professional and holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, CRPC® designation.

Jessica enjoys hiking with her husband Nick and miniature poodle Fonzi, watching Golden Knights hockey games, and attending ballets and musicals with her mother Joan.

Jessica's awards:
-Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" lists in 2024, 2023 and 2022 (Published annually Jan.-April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year)

-Forbes "Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State" lists in 2024, 2023 and 2022 (Published annually in February. Rankings based on data as of September 30 of prior year)

-Forbes “Best-in-State Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” list in 2023, 2022 and 2019 (Published annually Aug – Sept. Rankings based on data as of March 31 of current year).
 
Gary M Cohen
First Vice President
Senior Relationship Manager

As the founder and senior member of The Cohen Group, Gary Cohen has spent his entire career with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. He joined the Firm in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1976 and relocated to Las Vegas, Nevada in 2003.

Today, he continues to provide leadership and vision and serves as a relationship manager for many of the team’s clients across the country. Gary believes that building a wealth management team with his daughter, Jessica, helps enable them to maintain continuity and effectively build enduring multigenerational relationships with clients and their families.

Recognizing that every family is unique in its priorities, Gary has the understanding to help them plan for and navigate the financial impact of various life transitions, including retirement or the sale of a business. Dedicated and driven, his four decades of industry experience have given him a clear understanding of how changing markets can affect portfolio outcomes. Gary’s disciplined approach helps clients navigate market volatility and pursue their goals and objectives based on their risk tolerance, time horizon, liquidity needs, and overall investment goals.

To help ensure that all of the key pieces of his clients’ wealth management strategies are unified and working together, Gary can also work with their CPAs, attorneys, institutional portfolio managers and other specialists to help avoid emotionally driven decisions about important life and financial matters.

Gary graduated from Penn State University with a Bachelor’s degree in business management, marketing, and business logistics. Over the years, he has served as a mentor to financial advisors in Merrill’s training program. Gary and his wife have two daughters, two grandchildren, and they enjoy giving retired champion Saluki dogs a new happy home. He is also an avid photographer of wildlife, landscapes and seascapes. A passionate Pittsburgh Steelers and Vegas Golden Knights fan, Gary enjoys a wide variety of hobbies and interests including international travel, collecting art, attending live concerts, dining, and cooking.

Nicolas Scamorza
Team Financial Advisor

Nick joined his wife Jessica at Merrill in 2022 after spending 11 years in public accounting (Deloitte & Touche LLP and PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP) and casino consulting (RSM US, LLP, formerly McGladrey) firms while working as a Certified Public Accountant. He is excited to have finally joined the family business and has always had a passion for personal finance.

Nick graduated Magna Cum Laude from University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a focus in Accounting.


*Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.

*Source: The Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors” list, published annually Jan-April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Data provided by SHOOK® Research, LLC. Forbes Best-in-State Wealth Advisors ranking was developed by SHOOK Research and is based on in-person, virtual, and telephone due diligence meetings to measure best practices; also considered are: client retention, industry experience, credentials, review of compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, such as: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criterion because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. SHOOK’s research and rankings provide opinions intended to help investors choose the right financial advisor and are not indicative of future performance or representative of any one client’s experience. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK Research receive compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking. For more information, please see www.SHOOKresearch.com. SHOOK is a registered trademark of SHOOK Research, LLC.

*Source: The Forbes “Best-in-State Next-Generation Wealth Advisors” list, published annually Aug - Sept. Rankings based on data as of March 31 of current year.

Data provided by SHOOK® Research, LLC. Forbes “Best-in-State Next Generation Wealth Advisors” ranking. SHOOK considered advisors born in 1983 or later with a minimum 4 years as an advisor. Advisors have: built their own practices and lead their teams; joined teams and are viewed as future leadership; or a combination of both. Ranking algorithm is based on qualitative measures: telephone and in-person interviews to measure best practices, client retention, industry experience, credentials, review of compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, such as: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criterion because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. Rankings are based on the opinions of Forbes 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. SHOOK’s research and rankings provide opinions intended to help investors choose the right financial advisor and are not indicative of future performance or representative of any one client’s experience. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK Research receive compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking. For more information, please see www.SHOOKresearch.com. SHOOK is a registered trademark of SHOOK Research, LLC.

*Source: The Forbes “Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State” list, published annually in February. Rankings based on data as of Sept 30 of prior year.

Data provided by SHOOK® Research, LLC. Forbes “Top Women Wealth Advisors Best-in-State” ranking was developed by SHOOK Research and is based on in-person, virtual and telephone due diligence meetings to evaluate each advisor qualitatively, a major component of a ranking algorithm that includes: client impact, industry experience, review of best practices and compliance records, firm nominations; and quantitative criteria, including: assets under management and revenue generated for their firms. Investment performance is not a criterion because client objectives and risk tolerances vary, and advisors rarely have audited performance reports. Rankings are based on the opinions of Forbes 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. Rankings and recognition from Forbes 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. SHOOK’s research and rankings provide opinions intended to help investors choose the right financial advisor and are not indicative of future performance or representative of any one client’s experience. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK Research receive compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking. For more information, please see www.SHOOKresearch.com. SHOOK is a registered trademark of SHOOK Research, LLC.

  • LANGUAGES

    English & German

  • EDUCATION

    Emory University

    University of Nevada - Las Vegas

Additional Resources

The following specialists do not make securities recommendations. Please contact your Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor if you have questions about how a specialist might be able to assist you.

Valarie Beel

Wealth Management Banking Specialist

Merrill

Jodi Cody

Wealth Management Lending Officer

Bank of America, N.A.

NMLS #1516670

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

Approach

Every relationship begins with a conversation, helping you identify and prioritize which goals matter most to you. Whether it's transferring wealth to the next generation, customizing your financial approach to help you pursue your passions, or providing advice and guidance to help you stay informed, I start by listening to learn more about you and your family.

Capabilities

Merrill’s process is designed to help deliver a customized, comprehensive experience to assist you not only in wealth accumulation and preservation, but in areas that go beyond investments. Providing you with access to the investment insights of Merrill, trust and fiduciary services from Bank of America Private Bank, and the banking and lending solutions of Bank of America offers a way to help you manage all of the pieces of your financial life. Working one-on-one with a Merrill advisor means you have a single point of contact to help you with potential strategies for transferring wealth to the younger generation.

Focus On Individuals, Families, and Small Businesses

I believe that financial success can be achieved when you’re able to make investment-related decisions and trade-offs that can help you reach personally meaningful goals. Whether you’re planning your retirement, saving to buy a home or funding a child’s education, the process begins by getting to know you and how you feel about the following:

  • Health: Managing healthcare expenses, now and in the future
  • Home: Upsizing, downsizing, remodeling or buying a vacation home
  • Family: Taking care of your family and other people in your life
  • Leisure: Spending your free time in meaningful ways
  • Giving: Volunteering, mentoring others and giving to charities
  • Work: Working in retirement, selling or starting a business
  • Finance: Bringing it all together and defining your financial goals
Success will be measured by the amount of progress you are making toward reaching your goals, making thoughtfully considered adjustments as events and conditions warrant.

This material should be regarded as general or educational information on healthcare or Social Security considerations and is not intended to provide specific healthcare or social security advice. If you have questions regarding your particular situation, please contact your legal or tax advisor.

Your approach to investing

Drawing upon research in the field of behavioral finance, Merrill developed the Investment Personality Assessment to help us get to know you better as an investor and potentially help you refine your own investing preferences. By gaining a deeper understanding of how you think and feel about investing through this assessment, we can customize the financial approach we develop together to help you pursue what matters most to you. Our Investment Personality Assessment is one of the ways to help us get to know you - to understand your goals and priorities. These questions will help us provide you with additional insights and resources.

Understanding your goals and priorities

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

Philosophy

I believe the best financial approach is the one that helps you pursue your goals. That's why, from the start, we talk about your aspirations and encourage you to ask questions about issues that matter most to you. Calculating how to manage future health care expenses? College on the horizon? Considering the sale of a business or purchase of a home? Preparing to pass your wealth to future generations? It all starts with a plan intended to help you manage, grow, and preserve your wealth today, while also considering the impact it can have for years to come. With access to the investment insights of Merrill and banking solutions from Bank of America, I will work with you to develop an approach designed to help address your financial needs.

Welcome

My goal is to connect you to the people, plan and process that best fit your unique ambitions. We help you pursue your personal goals, such as planning for and funding your children’s educations; helping to ensure that your retirement lifestyle their and potential health care costs are covered; and creating a personalized plan designed to help you achieve your family's long-term goals. Everything I do for and with you takes into account your personal perspectives and priorities. I aim to bring simplicity and transparency to the complexities of investing, making the intimidating task of wealth planning an exciting journey of managing and helping you reach your goals.

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.

    #DigitalMerrill

    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 I can help you create a financial approach that reflects your personality. Only then can I 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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      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.