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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Serving a loyal clientele he refers to as “families,” Neil Carlin has long encouraged and empowered their financial strength by sharing his wisdom and sensitivity. Since joining Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in 1984, Neil has built enduring relationships with business owners, attorneys, accountants, and generations of their families in the New York area and nationwide.

“I’ve come to know clients very well, which comes from my approach. I meet clients where it’s convenient for them. We talk frequently and I encourage both spouses to make themselves available. More than once, I’ve contacted a client’s grown child to say that their mom or dad could use some help grasping a concept or making a decision. I give unbiased, straightforward suggestions and want clients to know that I’m looking out for them,” Neil explains. “I care about clients’ concerns, aspirations, and best interests.”

When it comes to investments, Neil has traditionally maintained a bullish stance, with a belief that negative news typically affects long-term performance only in the short term. Neil also places a premium on the value of society’s education and entrepreneurship, which he sees as driving constant innovation in various fields and offering new opportunities for investments and optimism. Using Merrill research and his own, Neil crafts clients’ individual portfolios from the ground up – to reflect their comfort with risk, need for liquidity, investment horizon and personal goals.

“The clients I serve are financially astute. They recognize that they can buy stocks for a few dollars somewhere else. I believe they stay with me because I do everything possible to inform their decisions and bolster their financial stability. By helping clients ‘see around corners’, I allow them to plan and prepare for likely and unlikely events. In addition, I keep clients’ accountants involved – asking about clients’ investments held elsewhere, so that I can align my decisions with their overall financial picture. Providing tangible value takes many forms,” Neil points out.


Neil Carlin
Financial Advisor

Neil arrived at Merrill more than 30 years ago and has never looked back. Instead, he helps clients look forward – by developing investment, retirement, liability, tax minimization and estate planning strategies that can satisfy clients’ most cherished goals. A highly proactive and professional advisor, Neil began his career at Prudential Bache Halsey Stuart. He has worked at the Garden City office of Merrill since 1984 – nurturing friendships with clients across the nation and advisors throughout the firm.

An alumnus of University of South Florida and a lifelong resident of Long Island, Neil lives in St. James with his wife, Carmela, and their three children (one in college). Neil is active in his community, having served as a school board member for Smithtown and a coach for CYO basketball, youth soccer. He has also participated with his wife in fundraising events for Muscular Dystrophy and The Lymphoma & Leukemia Society. Neil is a former marathon runner who enjoys hiking, biking, yoga, working out five days a week, and stand-up paddle boarding.

Donna Doody
Registered Senior Wealth Management Client Associate

Donna shares much in common with Neil. She brings clients tremendous experience and knowledge – having worked at the Garden City office of Merrill for 34 years. She also has developed trusted relationships with clients – recognizing many of their voices when they call and having a familiarity with their specific circumstances and requests. In addition to addressing clients’ transactional, account and administrative needs, Donna serves as their proactive liaison with Neil and specialists throughout the firm.

Donna is a graduate of Lafayette College. She and her husband, Jim, reside in Lynbrook. They have been married for more than 30 years and are proud parents of two grown children.

*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.



I follow the deep-seated Merrill tradition of participating in the communities we serve. This drives my interest in spending time volunteering with organizations in our community.




    University of South Florida

    Valley Stream North

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


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.


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.


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.


My mission, first and foremost, is to understand you and what matters most to you. Armed with that information I can ask thoughtful questions -- listening carefully, then understanding in detail where your wealth stands today and where you’d like it to be tomorrow. I help you design and implement a personalized plan intended to help you and your family pursue financial goals while helping manage investment risk. My approach is to focus on potential solutions that can help turn goals into reality.

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 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.


      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.