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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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.

Benjamin L Johnson

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2018-2024
Published annually Jan- April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2024 and 2023
Published annually in January. Rankings based on data as of March 31 of prior year.*

Christopher "Kit" L. Johnson

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2023-2024
Published annually Jan- April. Rankings based on data as of June 30 of prior year.

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2024 and 2023
Published annually in January. Rankings based on data as of March 31 of prior year.*

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.

Chris Claps

Alternative Investments Regional Specialist

Bank of America, N.A.

John Ventura

Investment Solutions Group Portfolio Strategist

Bank of America, N.A.

Christopher Caradec

Wealth Strategies Advisor

Bank of America, N.A.

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


As “second generation” members of The Johnson Group, we feel privileged to have followed in our father’s footsteps, to have “walked alongside him” for years, and now, to serve many old and new clients attracted to our tradition of transparency and accountability.

Like our father, we listen closely and continuously to clients. By asking the right questions and hearing what clients say (and often, don’t say), we can identify distinct areas of their financial lives that require our knowledge and best efforts.

To provide the level of sophistication and attention commonly associated with that of private banks – with a watchful eye on cost efficiencies – we aim to “do more” for a loyal circle of families in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, on the West Coast, and states in between. We define clients by their ambitions and passions, which often include passing along wealth and wisdom to their children.

Who do we serve? Senior executives, business owners and entrepreneurs, physicians and attorneys, Wall Street professionals, retired couples, widows, divorcees, and generations of client families. While financially astute and diverse in their achievements, many clients benefit from our structure and ability to handle the entirety of their financial affairs – from check writing and cash management, to lines of credit and structured lending, to risk-managed investing, retirement planning, tax minimization and estate planning strategies.

What distinguishes our offering? We treat clients like members of our families and treat their finances like a business. That demands our vigilance and skillset – to act as stewards of their money. Having “grown up” with many clients, we know they value the longevity and quality of our relationships.


Our Family Heritage

At The Johnson Group, we continue to be inspired by our father, Robert A. Johnson, who founded the group in 1984. 

“Dad” didn’t set out to be a financial advisor. In fact, wealth management was his third career. He graduated from the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business and Economics. He also received an MIM from the American Graduate School of International Management, did post-graduate work at Amos Tuck School of Management at Dartmouth College, and earned an MBA from the renowned Thunderbird School of Global Management.

From 1967 to 1971, Bob served our country during the Vietnam War as an officer in U.S. Navy. Later, he enjoyed a successful career in international business – traveling frequently to Tokyo and Singapore. As fate would have it, Bob’s roommate in the Navy managed the Merrill office here in Philadelphia. The rest is history…

In 1983, Bob accepted his Navy buddy’s invitation to join Merrill. And in true form, Bob never looked back. Instead, he helped generations of high-net-worth families and corporations look forward – to plan and prepare for financial goals they deemed meaningful. 

With the mindset and toolbox of a private banker, Bob became one of the first Merrill advisors to take a holistic, planning-based approach in his role as a financial advisor. For Bob, sophisticated asset management was only a single aspect of providing superior wealth management. Dad mentored clients – and us – so that we all understood the overall value that a financial advisor could provide. 

Bob would often remind the team of the trust that clients place in us.

Similarly to many client families, The Johnson Group is a multigenerational advisory team with ages that align nicely with clients at many stages along the wealth continuum. Another key benefit to working with us is the vast repository of knowledge we’ve gained over the past five decades. On many occasions, a complex strategy we’ve crafted for one client can guide us in meeting another client’s needs.

What do we tell clients? “We’re in the prime of our lives, we’ve worked together for years, and we’re not going anywhere.”

Quite intentionally, we’ve structured our group to help future generations of families optimize their wealth. Our “big-picture” perspective extends well beyond investments to the ways in which each family’s wealth is structured (or should be), to allow for enduring benefits. 

We engage regularly with both spouses – and given the opportunity, with a family’s growing or adult children. By having a genuine understanding of a family’s dynamics and all stakeholders (with diverse lifestyles and preferences), we can craft thoughtful strategies that satisfy multiple objectives and provide long-term fulfillment.

In addition to working hand-in-hand with clients, we coordinate throughout the year with our firm’s specialists and with clients’ other trusted advisors. Often, we accompany clients to the offices of their CPAs and attorneys or host meetings in our office – to help align tax-minimization and estate planning strategies. “Bringing the right people to the table” on a regular basis is another example of our team approach.


What Clients Can Expect

Since our founding more than 30 years ago, The Johnson Group has taken a highly personalized, planning-based approach. In fact, long before the word “planning” was in vogue, we focused on clients’ situations and ambitions, rather than beating an arbitrary investment index. 

Each day, we offer the strength of a global institutional powerhouse with the boutique-level service favored by affluent and ambitious clients. Most were referred by their other trusted advisors, colleagues, and family. We believe the strong relationships we enjoy with clients reflect our ability to manage their wealth and expectations. We also believe:
 • “Hope is not a plan.” We can help you prepare for what you envision, as well as unlikely circumstances. By scrutinizing distinct areas of your financial life, we can design and review an integrated strategy that coincides with your view of wealth and the world. 

• “Your questions speak volumes.” Tell us what’s on your mind and in your heart. Often, we hear, “When will I have enough to retire and start a new venture? My child has special needs – how can I provide for him, if something happens to me? Am I efficiently incorporating the new tax plan? How can I preserve wealth and still benefit from traditional market growth?”

• Evaluating the structure of your wealth, building in tax awareness, and estate-planning considerations are essential to the strategy we formulate for you – and it must continue to evolve as your needs do. We also can help you plan cash flow, track for credit card fraud, handle wires and check writing. 

• Diversification can dampen market volatility and help moderate downside risk. Based on your long-term goals, risk tolerance and other factors, we typically diversify client portfolios across a range of asset classes, sectors, and borders.

• It is incumbent on us to help enhance both sides of your balance sheet – assets and liabilities. When it can prove beneficial, we can connect you to specialists at Bank of America, N.A. for residential, commercial, and securities-based lending. 
• Our success (and yours) hinges on helping you set realistic expectations – then surpassing your expectations with an extra measure of acumen and attention. Being tax efficient, cost efficient, and transparent are hallmarks of our offering.

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.