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

Watch now


Lifan Shen, CFA, has been advising select high-net-worth families, businesses and non-profit institutions for over 20 years.  At Merrill, he is supported by a team with over four decades of experience in investments, estate planning, philanthropy and lending.  Since 2000, Lifan has established a strong and consistent track record of serving clients, helping them to grow and preserve their wealth through multiple challenging economic and market cycles and major life events. He has leveraged his deep investment experience to develop a disciplined and sustainable process that prioritizes prudent risk management, long-term growth, intelligent planning, tax minimization and transparency.  Lifan has also worked closely with clients to design financial education programs tailored to meet their needs, often to instill financial literacy and accountability in the next generation.


Lifan has developed a thoughtfully structured approach to wealth management that is guided by a deep understanding of each client's goals and risk tolerance.  He and his team actively engage with a client’s key advisors – investment, legal, tax, business – coordinating them to create a system of financial checks and balances that helps to ensure optimal outcomes for the client and their family.  Lifan firmly believes that the only way to build a customized strategy that is both financially optimal and sustainable is to develop a genuine understanding of what the client hopes to achieve, what causes they care about and what keeps them up at night.  He seeks an open and collaborative relationship with every client, actively listening and learning in order to gain insight that extends beyond their balance sheet to their values and their financial and emotional decision-making processes.


Prior to joining Merrill, Lifan advised clients in the private wealth management groups of Goldman, Sachs & Co. and the J.P. Morgan Private Bank.  As a financial advisor at Goldman, his primary responsibilities were to advise over fifty senior Goldman partners on their personal investments and to design and implement their financial planning strategies.  Lifan led a team of six analysts and traders, actively managing equity, fixed income and alternative investment portfolios for a group of clients that included Goldman’s Chief Executive Officer, Co-President, Chief Financial Officer, Co-Heads of Trading and other members of the Management Committee.

Lifan is a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts and the CFA Institute, and is a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation.


Lifan earned an MBA in Finance and Accounting from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and an AB in Economics from Dartmouth College where he rowed on the Men’s Crew team.  He is an active alumnus for both institutions, serving as an MBA and undergraduate admissions interviewer, as well as having led his Dartmouth class as Reunion Co-Chair, among other philanthropic and mentorship activities both on and off campus.


Lifan and his family immigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City when he was one year old.  A product of the city's public education system, he now passionately supports programs that help other low-income immigrants build a productive life.  Lifan is a founding Trustee and Finance Committee Chair of Brooklyn Independent, a non-profit private school that seeks to close the education opportunity gap in New York City by making a rigorous, private school education available to a socioeconomically diverse student body through a unique sliding-scale tuition model.  He is also a Pipeline Member of charity:water, a non-profit organization focused on providing clean water resources to people in developing countries.

Lifan resides in New York's Tribeca neighborhood with his wife and daughter.  In his spare time, he is an avid boxer and runner who recently completed his first New York City Marathon and is training for his second.


    Dartmouth College

    University of Pennsylvania Wharton School

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


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.


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.


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.

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.


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.

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.

      Anthem video thumb.jpg 
      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.