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The Barth Group

Wealth Management Group
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Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management

The Barth Group believes that good relationships are built through teamwork and involvement, delivered through our advisors, wealth management client associates and access to the global investment capabilities of Merrill and the banking convenience of Bank of America. We want to be your primary source for financial advice and guidance. And we want you to value the dedication and diligence offered to you at each step of the financial planning process.


Let Our Extensive Experience and Diverse Capabilities Work for You

The Barth Group was named Forbes "Best-In-State Wealth Management Teams" 2023 (Published on January 12, 2023. Rankings based on data as of March 31st, 2022.)

Like many clients it serves, The Barth Group strives to build a reputation for its professional demeanor and heritage of accomplishments. Its highly credentialed team members have worked together for years, and are committed to delivering an exceptional measure of proactive wealth management to a multigenerational clientele.

"We believe in the value of personal attention," says Bruce Barth, who has been with Merrill for 50 years. "Our client associates have more than 90 years of combined experience and strive to consistently provide the outstanding service we believe clients expect and deserve."
The Barth Group brings a family focus to active and retired business owners, corporate executives, non-profit organizations, traditional and non-traditional families – in New Jersey and throughout the nation. Many clients have been referred by others who call upon the group to help align wealth transfer strategies.
"The clients we serve often enjoy a positive cash flow with plenty of money for savings – but they lack a disciplined investment strategy. Our goals-based approach encourages clients to identify concerns and aspirations. And we dig deep. Using the firm's advanced technology – and sometimes, just a pad and paper – we've had more kitchen table meetings with clients, spouses and families than I can possibly count," Jim Cole points out.
Using BofA Global Research, model portfolios, and your outside tax professionals, the team's passive and active management aims for diversification, cost and tax efficiencies.
"Rather than focus on returns, we focus on clients' goals," Bruce says. "Spouses may disagree, which is why we facilitate conversations on retirement, how much money to leave the kids, and Social Security strategies. We also recommend that clients take only enough risk to help them pursue their desired lifestyles. As we develop personal relationships with clients, it's not only our professional but personal interest to help them pursue positive outcomes."

*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 equity research produced by BofA Securities, Inc. (“BofAS”) and/or one or more of its affiliates. 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.


Advice and guidance for every stage of your life

We assist a diverse clientele with the complex challenges of preserving, enhancing and managing their wealth. We serve every client with the same professional commitment to attentive service and are dedicated to using our considerable experience and capabilities for your benefit. The advice and guidance we offer is designed to help you create a dynamic strategy to approach your life goals, which may include preparing for retirement; positioning for a major liquidity event, such as selling a business; and creating a legacy by establishing philanthropic strategies. We can offer access to the banking resources of Bank of America, N.A. for cash management and liquidity needs with regard to credit and lending.
Transitioning to retirement
A smooth and efficient financial transition to retirement requires careful forethought. Through our disciplined process, and after a thorough review of your assets and balance sheet, we can help you create overall cash-flow-focused strategies designed with an emphasis on tax-minimization strategies. With your retirement goals clarified, together we will target customized strategies to each objective and track the progress toward them.
Addressing the needs of corporate executives
We have considerable experience helping senior executives manage concentrated stock positions. Key decisions around the timing for exercising your options, how to complete the transaction, and whether to hold or sell your acquired shares should be considered carefully. Based on your other holdings, risk tolerance, expectations for future growth and time horizon, we may recommend such strategies as creating liquidity through open-market sales, securities-based lending and trading programs in compliance with SEC Rules 144 and 10b5-1.
Strategies for business owners
As a business owner, your business and personal finances are closely intertwined, yet the attention your business requires may leave you little time to handle your own wealth management. We can help you integrate and balance your business and personal finances, proposing strategies that address goals for yourself, your family and your company. Our ability to work with your family and circle of advisors enables us to develop a coordinated wealth management approach tailored to your individual objectives. From growing your business, to realizing its value through a succession strategy or sale, to maintaining family ownership by the next generation, we can provide useful, practical strategies. 

Helping you pursue your dreams

With more than 180 years of combined experience offered by our team of financial advisors and client associates, The Barth Group seeks to be your trusted advisor in helping you pursue your financial goals. We know you and will be here for you. We work with you to understand your financial objectives, and we will suggest carefully researched strategies. Our goal is to help make your financial life simpler. The best roads are built with a destination in mind. By helping you establish goals and define your financial objectives, we're better able to offer the individualized strategies designed to help you pursue them.

Beyond wealth and asset management
Our goal is to help you make better, more informed decisions on a broader financial scale. From investments to tax minimization strategies and from charitable giving strategies to estate planning services and business succession, we'll give you the benefit of our experience—and make the knowledge of Merrill specialists available when their skills and insights are required. We can also provide access to Bank of America banking and lending specialists who can help tailor banking services, including assistance with credit and home equity loans, to your individual needs.

We do more than maintain investment portfolios
At The Barth Group, we stimulate thought, encourage discussion, even encourage action. We acquire a deep understanding of your lifestyle and what you may need to make it sustainable, assisting you in pursuing your financial objectives.

Merrill's five-step wealth management process starts the moment we begin to talk about your vision, dreams and objectives. We discover who you are and where you're heading. By listening carefully, we develop an accurate picture of your current financial life. We work with you to establish your time horizon, risk tolerance, liquidity needs and goals.Once your objectives are clear, we suggest a customized wealth management strategy designed to help you pursue them. Your strategy's goal will be to strike a balance between expected performance, risk management, wealth preservation and long-term goals.

Knowledge. Vision. Stability. Experience. Education.

Wealth management is a process that can take many different twists and turns. It is not a single transaction, or even a series of transactions. The cornerstone of our approach is to help define your life’s goals and what is most important to you. Our belief as advisors is not only to provide financial services, but also to gauge the important changes happening to you and your family. It’s our goal to be there with compassion and strength during difficult times as well as the prosperous ones.

  • We seek to build long-term client relationships that are based on an understanding of your life situation, financial resources, investment personality, concerns and priorities.
  • We have the dedication to tackle difficult issues when the answers aren’t always obvious. The strategies we propose often come from innovative thinking and collaboration with area experts both within and outside of Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Our recommendations consider your total financial picture, not just a limited assessment of the area directly affected by the recommendation.
  • We help keep you abreast of global events and market fluctuations that can affect your portfolio and, ultimately, your short-and long-term goals.
  • We believe in transparency and take the necessary time to help you thoroughly understand our recommendations in plain English—without the jargon.


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.

Bruce G Barth

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2023
Published on January 12, 2023. Rankings based on data as of March 31, 2022.*

Barron's "Top 1,200 Financial Advisors: State-by-State" 2014 - 2022
Published annually in February - March. Rankings based on data as of September 30 of the prior year.

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2023
Published annually Jan- April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Barron's "America's Top 1,000 Financial Advisors: State-by-State" 2009, 2010 and 2011
Published annually in February. Rankings based on data as of September 30 of the prior year.

James P Cole

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2023
Published on January 12, 2023. Rankings based on data as of March 31, 2022.*

Evelyn F Gonzalez

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2023
Published on January 12, 2023. 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.

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.

Basavadatta Ghosh

Wealth Management Banking Specialist


Tricia Kropp

Wealth Strategist


Michael K Costo

Retirement Specialist

Bank of America, N.A.

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.