Joseph DeBono


Joseph DeBono

Vice President
Senior Financial Advisor

Whatever your personal goals may be, I will work with you to develop a customized financial strategy designed to help you pursue what’s most important to you.


At Goldman Sachs in 1996, Joe began his career in Fixed Income, followed by his tenure at DLJ in Fixed Income under the number two ranked Institutional Investor High Yield Bond Research Analyst. Here, too, he was an Institutional Equity Trader.

At Greenwich Associates—a leading Investment Advisors to Pension & 401(k) Funds, Foundations and Endowments, Private Wealth, and Corporate and Government entities, Joe consulted to Institutional Investors/Plan Sponsors regarding Investment Managers’ performance. Subsequently, as a consultant to SPlus (the Statistical Analysis Software Company based on the eponymous Bell Labs’ software language) he helped create a Fund of Funds Portfolio Management Platform that moved beyond Normal Distributions, VaR and Sharpe Ratios to Stable Distributions, ETL (Expected Tail Loss) and STARR Ratios.

Prior to joining Merrill Lynch, Joe Re-Engineered Merrill Lynch’s Investment Manager Due Diligence process for ML’s Chief Investment Officer. He, too, consulted to Merrill Lynch and other Investment Managers on Portfolio Optimization and Risk Management. Joe points out that “Modern” Portfolio Theory is over 50 years old and no longer ‘modern’. He believes in Post-Modern Portfolio Management, which takes into greater consideration Fat-Tailed Distributions, (Black Swan Events/Financial Crisis), Robust Correlations, Absolute Return and Risk Adjusted Return Measures that post-date the Sharpe Ratio. He works with accredited investors on Alternative Investment strategies such as commodities, hedge funds, private equity, managed futures portfolios and real assets for true diversification.

Previously, Joe served as a Naval Officer where he was awarded over ten medals and personal decorations including the Navy Commendation Medal during the Persian Gulf War and the Humanitarian Relief Medal during Operation Sea Angle. |Joe was entrusted with a Top Secret Clearance—he’s trustworthy, and, during the War, the responsibility of making life-and-death decisions in real time while in mortal danger. Later, he served on an Admiral’s Staff (Commander, Naval Base San Diego) and played All-Navy Soccer in the US Armed Forces Tournament.

Although admitted to Harvard Business School and Wharton, he chose to earn his MBA from Kellogg because he had the opportunity to live with a Forbes 400 Family—Billionaires. At Kellogg, he was the Aronson Memorial Scholar in Accounting and scored in the 99th percentile (760) on the GMAT. Joe earned his BA in Chemistry while completing the Navy ROTC Full Scholarship program at Holy Cross College in Worcester, MA. He was a four year starter and four year letterman on the Varsity Soccer Team where he was voted Varsity Captain and selected to the NCAA Division I All-Conference Team.

In memory of his late father—a New York City teacher of 30 years, Joe founded MBA Corps, a 501 (c) 3, tax exempt, non-profit corporation that assists small business owners in creating jobs in economically depressed and asset depleted communities. Joe’s Philanthropic activities also include the Executive Council of Silver Shield Foundation (founded by George Steinbrenner, former principal owner of the New York Yankees), and he serves on the Principal’s Health and Safety Committee of his children’s grammar school and on the District PTA Scholarship Committee. He, too, is past president of the Kellogg (Northwestern University) NYC Alumni Club, past member of the Business Round Table for the President of United States’ Digital Freedom Initiative and past president of the NYC Business School Alumni Clubs Association, which included these alumni associations as its members: Beta Gamma Sigma, Bocconi, Carnegie Mellon—Tepper, Chicago—GSB, Columbia Business School, Cornell—Johnson, CUNY—Zicklin, Dartmouth—Tuck, Duke—Fuqua, Emory—Goizueta, ESSEC, Fordham—GSB, Georgetown—McDonough, Harvard Business School, Hochschule St. Gallen, Hofstra—Zarb, Indiana—Kelley, INSEAD, London Business School, Michigan—Ross, MIT—Sloan, New Mexico, Oxford—Saïd, Northwestern—Kellogg, Rice—Jones, Rochester—Simon, Sciences Po, Stanford—GSB, South Carolina—Moore, St. Johns—Tobin, Syracuse—SOM, Texas—McCombs, Thunderbird, UC Berkeley—Haas, UCLA—Anderson, USC—Marshall, Vanderbilt—Owen, Wharton and Yale—SOM.

Joe focuses on providing investment consulting and wealth management services for Ultra High Net Worth Families and Individuals, Family Offices, Business Managers for A-List Talent, Multi-family Offices, Foundations & Endowments, Corporate Pension Plans and Non-Profit organizations focusing on long-term wealth accumulation and preservation. His goal is to ‘Bring the Discipline of Institutional Investing to Individuals’ and other entities that do not enjoy the generous staffing of Ivy League Endowments. At the end of the day, his intention is to keep ‘the Rich’ rich. His approach is to gain a keen understanding of one’s current financial state and one’s future aspirations across all aspects of one’s personal life, investments and business interests. He then tailors a plan—elegant in its simplicity, using a full suite of sophisticated strategies and timely tactics. Essentially, he delivers a simple solution--based upon the clients risk tolerance, time horizon, liquidity needs and overall investment goals, on top of a high resource base. Joe believes in becoming an essential financial steward, a true team member and truly valuable problem solver. He focuses on helping identify issues, organize, optimize and simplify financial lives to allow clients to maximize their financial well being and quality of life.

How is this done? Through optimizing an objective function: Minimizing Fees and Taxes while Maximizing Risk Management, Investment Performance, and True Diversification—as correlation, which drives diversification, is a dynamic variable, not a constant as is widely believed.

Joe lives in New York with his wife, two children, and his trusty dogs—Biscuit and Belle, a golden retriever and yellow lab, respectively. Joe and his wife created the Squirt Soccer program for two through four year olds, where they started with 25 and now have about 300 tots participating.

Range of Services

We provide a range of services that reflect the needs of ultra-affluent individual and institutional clients:

ATM Access
Checking from Bank of America, N.A.
Credit Cards from Bank of America, N.A.
Securities-Based Lending
Residential Real Estate Lending from Bank of America, N.A.
Structured Lending:
-Yachts/Marine Vessels
-Hedge Funds
-Fine Art
-Investor Commercial Real Estate
-Recreational Real Estate
Asset Allocation, monitoring, reporting
Traditional Investment selection and management
Alternative Investment selection and management
Private Equity
Hard Asset Management: Real Estate, Timer, Oil & Gas
Bank financing management through Bank of America, N.A.
Liability and Insurance oversight
Life Insurance
Integrated Lifetime/Estate Planning Services/Succession Strategies
Trust structures and administration, compliance and reporting
Philanthropy: integrated charitable plans and family foundations
Access to Family Office Services
Concierge Services: travel, domestic staff management, elite services
Cash Management
Cash flow management: bill payment
Special Transactions e.g. Rule 144 Sales

1042 Exchanges: Qualified Replacement Property

Equity Compensation Plans
Non-Qualified Deferred Compensation Plans
Defined Contribution Plans
Defined Benefits Plan

*Asset allocation does not ensure profit or protect against loss in declining markets. 

*Neither Merrill Lynch nor its Financial Advisors provide tax, accounting or legal advice.  Clients should review any planned financial transactions or arrangements that may have tax, accounting or legal implications with their personal professional advisors.

*Some or all alternative investments may not be suitable for certain investors. Certain alternative investments carry significant risk and are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as mutual funds and other traditional investments.  For these reasons, access to alternative investments may be limited to investors who are designated as sophisticated, high-net-worth investors.

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


    College of the Holy Cross

    Northwestern University

Where do we begin? It starts with you.

At Merrill Lynch, 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


My mission is to understand you and your priorities. To take the time, to ask hard, smart questions and to listen carefully, then to understand, in great detail, exactly where your wealth stands today, and where you’d like it to be tomorrow. I then help you design, implement and periodically monitor a customized wealth management strategy that helps you and your family pursue your personal financial goals without unnecessary investment risk. My wealth management approach is about using wealth to help turn goals into reality. When you succeed, I succeed.


I believe that the best financial strategy 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. Worried about managing future health care expenses? College on the horizon? Considering the sale of a business or purchase of a home? Preparing to pass your wealth on to future generations? With access to the investing insights of Merrill Lynch and the banking convenience of Bank of America, I will work with you to develop strategies that are designed to address your priorities and financial needs.


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

Merrill Lynch developed the Investment Personality Assessment to help us get to know your investing preferences. By gaining a deeper understanding of how you think and feel about investing through this assessment, I can help customize the financial strategy we develop together.


My process is designed to deliver a customized, consistent experience to assist clients not only in wealth accumulation and preservation, but in areas that go beyond portfolio management. My ability to provide access to the investment insights of Merrill Lynch and the banking convenience of Bank of America offers a way for clients to manage all of the pieces of their financial lives. I can be a financial resource, helping clients with the process of transferring wealth to the younger generation.

Focus On Individuals and Families

I work primarily with high-net-worth individuals and families. I’ll begin by getting to know you as we explore the following seven priorities together:

  • 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
I work closely with other trusted professionals to help clients pursue their goals, drawing on the investment insights of Merrill Lynch and access to the banking convenience of Bank of America as we do so.

Your approach to investing

Drawing upon research in the field of behavioral finance, Merrill Lynch 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 strategy we develop together to help you with your approach for what matters most to you. Our Investment Personality Assessment is one of the ways to help me get to know you – to understand your goals and priorities. These questions will give you a sense of the full assessment and 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 strategy.

Your Financial Strategy

We offer you access to the investing insights of Merrill Lynch, trust and fiduciary services from U.S. Trust, and the banking convenience of Bank of America to help you pursue your goals. We will work to help you stay on track, regardless of what the markets are doing.

Taking care of your family and other people in your life
  • Trust & Estate Services2
  • Education Funding Strategies1
  • Insurance3
Planning for healthcare expenses now and in the future
  • Long-term Care Insurance3
  • Health Savings Account2
  • Disability Insurance3
Upsizing, downsizing, remodeling or buying a vacation home
  • Home Loans2
  • Home Equity Lines of Credit2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Credit Cards2
Working in retirement, selling or starting a business
  • Bank of America Business Banking2
  • Exchange Funds1
  • Concentrated Stock Management1
  • Succession Planning1
Spending your free time in meaningful ways
  • Credit Cards2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Structured Lending2
Volunteering, mentoring others and giving to charities
  • Donor-Advised Funds2
  • Private Foundations2
  • Charitable Trusts2
Using your finances to bring it all together
  • Merrill Lynch Investment Accounts1
  • Investment Advisory Accounts1
  • Alternative Investments1
  • Exchange-Traded Funds1
  • Mutual Funds1
  • Closed-end Funds1
  • Fixed Income Products1
  • Options1
  • Annuities3
  • Impact Portfolios1
  • Market-Linked Investments1
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Margin1
  • Home Loans2
  • Bank of America Checking and Savings Accounts2
  • Credit Cards2
  • Online Account Access1,2

1Investment products are offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.
2Banking products are offered by Bank of America, N.A.
3Insurance and annuity products offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.

Staying on Track

We understand that both your life and the financial markets can change over time. By periodically checking in to discuss changes in your life and revisiting your financial strategy, our goal is to help give you peace of mind* that you're on track to help achieve what's most important to you.

Regular reviews to help you stay on track
Regular reviews to help you stay on track

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

  • Sample client review agenda
  • Sample Wealth Outlook Report
Monitoring changes in your life and to your goals
Monitoring changes in your life and to your goals

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

Access to what you need, when you need it

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

  • Your advisor is never more than a click away within our site or mobile apps
  • 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 Lynch’s asset aggregation tool

*Peace of mind is an aspirational state of mind that clients hope to achieve. There are no guaranteed results following completion of the Goals-Based Wealth Management process because markets can fluctuate and investments can lose value. Advisors work with clients to help them understand how the goals based wealth management process can help to address their concerns, financial situation and priorities.

Let’s Have a Conversation

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

Why Merrill Lynch?

As Merrill Lynch financial advisors, we will sort through the financial complexities of your life, helping you build a customized investment strategy to 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 financial advisor.

Transcript of Video

Personalized advice from a dedicated financial advisor.

Getting to know you is our primary goal.

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

Drawing from our experience and the best thinking of Merrill Lynch, we will build a strategy that reflects your unique needs, priorities and financial situation.

Adjusting your plan as your life and the markets change.

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