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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As we prepare for financial security, we are faced with a multitude of decisions that will determine the probability of success in reaching our goals. Having the experience, knowledge, and understanding of each client’s specific circumstances and opportunities is fundamental to comprehensive wealth management and to Katherine's practice.

Katherine is an experienced advisor who is dedicated to empowering her clients to make well-informed choices as they go through life’s transitions -- retirement, marriage, divorce, new and growing families, death, graduations, inheritance, gifting, elder care, estate planning, and business succession. She focuses on clients’ individual priorities and goals and provides them with the specialized skills and sophisticated strategies to achieve them. Together with her team and Merrill's resources, Katherine creates a positive client experience through education, understanding, implementation, and regular portfolio review.

When evaluating her clients’ financial well-being, Katherine begins by asking basic questions that go to the heart of Wealth Management:
Wealth Management Questions


  • How do I envision retirement?  Where do I want to live, travel?  How do I want to spend my time?
  • Will my money last through retirement?
  • Will I be able to retire when I would like to?
  • Do I need long-term care?
  • What are my retirement plan management and investment options?
  • What should I consider before claiming Social Security?

Education Planning
  • How much should I save for college and what are my options?
  • When should I start planning?
  • Will I qualify for financial aid? Where do I start?

Life Events
  • How do we manage our finances after getting married?
  • What happens to my 401k when I change jobs?
  • What are my options if I am laid off?
  • I am getting divorced. What happens to my assets?
  • What do I do when a loved one dies?

Elder Care
  • How does Medicare work?
  • What should I look for in a nursing home?
  • What happens if I have to take care of my parents?

Estate Planning Services
  • What should I know about estate planning?
  • How do I protect my estate from taxes?
  • Will my family be secure if something happens to me?
  • Do I have enough insurance if I should become disabled or die?
  • Do I have a will, a durable power of attorney, a healthcare proxy, a trust?
  • Have I named the proper beneficiaries on all of my insurance and retirement accounts?
  • How do I create a legacy for my children?
  • Can I provide for my favorite charity when I am gone?
  • What will my survivors need to know?

Financial Basics

  • How do I keep my records safe and organized?
  • How do I improve budgeting? Do I know how much I save/spend per year?
  • What is my net worth?
  • How do I reduce my debt? Am I borrowing in the most efficient manner?
  • Do I have the proper amount saved for an Emergency Fund?
  • What is my risk tolerance and am I taking the right amount of risk?
  • How are my assets allocated?
  • What has been my rate of return over the years and is it competitive to the respective benchmarks?
  • How do I teach little kids about money or help a young adult develop a financial strategy?
  • How do I have financial discussions with family?

Goals and Dreams
  • What are the 10 most important things I want to accomplish in my life?
  • If I had only 5 years to live, what would I change in my life?
  • If money were no object, what would I be doing right now?
  • If I found out I were going to die tomorrow, what would I regret not doing?

Working with You and Our Core Values

  • Fiduciary Care.  Every decision about your finances will be based on doing what is most prudent and appropriate for your needs.
  • Integrity and Trust. Upholding this ethical standard is our greatest priority. It is our dedication and commitment to you.
  • Transparency.  It is important for you to always know where you stand. It is our responsibility to keep you informed and on track with achieving your goals.
  • Pursuit of Perfection. We focus on delivering with care thoughtful, comprehensive, and goals-based financial plans that support your goals for retirement, your children, businesses, and charities.

Women, Reinvention, and Empowerment

Katherine is an energetic and vibrant speaker who is regularly invited to women’s leadership forums where she discusses those life changing moments when decisions are made to protect and nurture the people we love (children, parents, siblings, husband) sometimes at the price of our own well-being.  

She explores with women how we love, follow our passions, and still protect ourselves, secure our futures, and thrive beyond adversity and the sometimes devastating effects of divorce, loss of a loved one, or economic uncertainty.

It’s a story of reinvention and empowerment and why Katherine became a financial advisor. Her story became her deep passion for financial planning as the cornerstone for securing our futures and for living our hopes and our dreams.  

Katherine’s Bio

A resident of Northern Virginia for more than 25 years, Katherine is deeply involved with her community in business, networking, and philanthropic activities.  She is particularly committed to the successful transition of Veterans coming home and has served on multiple Veterans’ Boards, including General Electric’s Military Advisory Board.  Katherine is the Founder of Virginia Network, an organization that hosts business educational and networking events for entrepreneurs. She lived in Europe and Latin America for many years and speaks German and Spanish professionally.  Katherine is also a classically trained Shakespearian actress with Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Film/TV credits. She holds a B.A. from UNC-Chapel Hill and an M.A. from Georgetown University. Katherine lives in Reston with her family.


    Spanish, English & German


    Georgetown University

    UNC - Chapel Hill

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.