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

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

Merrill Lynch

Shields Abate Searle

And Associates

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Merrill Lynch
Wealth Management

We bring decades of experience to an accomplished clientele on both coasts. Our mission?
To help them advance ambitious goals with purposeful planning, professional stewardship and personal service.


At Shields Abate Searle and Associates, we are an established group of professionals that continues to attract clients seeking our knowledge, know-how and ability to know them exceedingly well.

Since our team’s advisors began working together in 2010, we’ve shared the belief that a client’s mindset and motivations must form the bedrock of their financial strategy. We are proud to stand behind each client by getting out in front of the decisions they need to make – allowing us to provide thoughtful consideration, detailed analysis and careful examination of alternate scenarios.

It has been our practice to cultivate multi-faceted, multi-generational relationships with clients – giving us the depth of knowledge to address their short- and long-term priorities. Our philosophy also celebrates collaboration. Working in concert with each client and our firm’s specialists, we draw upon the resources and insights of a global financial institution to create dynamic strategies as unique as each client we assist.

Who do we serve?

By design, we work with a limited number of clients – in order to provide the intense focus that complex financial needs require. These include philanthropic organizations, members of their boards and individuals who are philanthropically inclined, as well as business owners (some with 401K plans), lobbyists, government workers and families that span generations and the nation’s geography. Similar to many of our clients, we take pride in serving our communities and the greater good.

Each of us recognizes that “wealth” encompasses multiple aspects of clients’ lives, both quantitative and qualitative. We are technically adept and analytically rigorous. At the same time, we are cognizant that “wealth” is ultimately personal and must embrace a client’s goals, values and family dynamics.

As advisors, guides, and sounding boards, we welcome the opportunity to simplify your financial life, so that you can focus on what most excites you – perhaps, the business you founded or the career in front of you. Maybe it’s sharing values with your children, so that they become capable stewards of your wealth and wishes. Or maybe it’s supporting a cause that’s close to your heart – enacting strategic philanthropy that’s measurable by us and meaningful to you. Whatever your passion, concern, or curiosity, we are eager to connect and learn more about you.

Our Passion for Planning

At Shields Abate Searle and Associates, we are devoted to appreciating where you’ve been, how hard you’ve worked, and what you’ve achieved. By the same token, we are eager to help you look forward and plan for circumstances you anticipate and prepare for those you don’t.

As veteran advisors who’ve spent our careers advising accomplished people, we intimately understand the decision points they face. We are adept at anticipating what’s ahead. We also challenge clients to expand their thinking – to get at the core of what they want their wealth to accomplish, and help them pursue goals with purpose and precision.

Our distinct, planning-based approach is ongoing – not a one-time event. Over the course of our relationship, we will spend significant time and effort developing and enhancing our understanding of you – what’s on your mind and in your heart.

How do we learn?

By asking questions and listening (more than talking), we help clients identify their greatest concerns and most cherished goals. Often we ask, “What are your dreams and what keep you up at night? Who are you responsible for? Why have you come to us? And what role would you like us to play?”

In the vast majority of cases, we find that a rewarding retirement lifestyle is the #1 priority for clients. Consequently, we’ve developed a strong competency in crafting retirement income generation and distribution strategies, as part of a real-world strategy that aims to increase wealth without unreasonable risk.

What do we tell clients?

• Money is not managed in a vacuum. It’s there for a purpose – their retirement, launching a new venture, caring for a special needs child or an elderly parent. Pairing their purpose with their risk level to craft an investment strategy, we also look at upcoming life events that may signal a new consideration and appropriate planning.

• We are genuinely caring and considerate of their lives and life events. It is not uncommon for us to visit clients in hospitals, attend funerals of family members, and extend ourselves in other ways. Clients also invite us into their lives – asking us to celebrate with them at wedding and anniversary parties.

• By investing our time and sharing insights with clients, we can brighten their outlook, reduce their stress, and allow them to focus on the professional and personal pursuits they deem most important

Enhancing Wealth Beyond your Portfolio

When your wealth has achieved a certain complexity, you deserve to have your financial affairs managed with rigor – by professionals committed to safeguarding your assets, values and privacy. At Shields Abate Searle and Associates, we appreciate those concerns. And rather than shy away from your financial challenges, we embrace them. Why? Because their steady resolution can make a lasting impact on your life and the lives of the people you care about.

Each day (and many evenings), we deliver the concerted focus that successful clients require, especially as they encounter more urgent and sophisticated considerations. Combining the singular attention and intimate sensibility of a boutique-like approach with the strength and solidity of an established wealth management team, we find that this combination results in an unusually effective pairing – helping clients preserve, grow, and transfer their wealth more capably.

Experience tells us that a portfolio’s performance is important – but not the main contributor to a client’s long-term wealth and satisfaction. For this reason, we examine decisions that can affect immediate and extended family members, future generations, and clients’ enterprises.

• To account for short- and long-term tax consequences, we coordinate frequently with clients’ CPAs – aligning efforts to help optimize outcomes (exchanging documents, harvesting tax losses, and staying in contact throughout the year, not just at tax time).

• We maintain a watchful eye on opportunities for clients to benefit from wise management of debt. Through Bank of America, N.A., we provide ready access to residential lending, mortgage refinancing and commercial lending solutions. Many of our clients – including business owners – find that security-based lending represents a way to receive short-term financing without affecting their portfolio or credit rating.

• Many of our business owner clients rely on us for our ability to handle their 401K plans and other defined benefit plans. We also assist clients with government retirement plans, and with charitable trusts including donor-advised funds to help achieve their goals for gifting and multi-generational planning.

 • When helpful, we accompany clients to meetings with their attorneys, to facilitate the formulation of estate-planning strategies that reflect the latest legislation, new opportunities, and, at all times, clients’ objectives.

• In addition to clients’ goals, we look for holes in their financial picture that may have been ignored previously – assets in multiple places, liabilities, and protective components that can help insulate client wealth (including long-term care, disability and other forms of insurance).

What You Can Expect

At Shields Abate Searle and Associates, our vision of providing superior wealth management is predicated on having a genuine, ongoing appreciation of you – what keeps you up at night, what gets you up each morning, and what brings a smile to your face at the end of a productive workday or memorable weekend. 

Given our decades of experience, we rarely see situations we haven’t encountered. When your life transitions bring about significant financial challenges, we take a “hands-on, hands-held” approach. It makes us proud to help you make thoughtful, unhurried decisions – the kind that increase the probability of your financial success.

When asked, we characterize our offering as a rich repository of knowledge and best practices. Each day, we build and monitor integrated strategies as sophisticated as the clients we serve. Privacy is a pillar of our offering. Still, when it can prove beneficial, we may share what others in your peer group are doing. This not only leads to proven ideas for meeting an array of challenges, but ongoing education that can help your family members learn and prosper.

Having worked together as a team since 2010 (at another firm and now, at Merrill), we are often surprised by the expectations of new clients. Most have only an inkling of the breadth and depth of our offering. As our client, you can expect that we will:

• Assess your overall wealth and its components – where they’re held, and how they can be consolidated to optimize their impact. We will perform an in-depth analysis of your investment allocation with regard to diversification, risk, cash flow, and time horizon – allowing us to identify redundancies, discern gaps and exposures, evaluate tax efficiency and fees. We will also examine your other holdings (real estate and business interests, for example).

• Customize your portfolio based on input from our firm’s Chief Investment Office and offerings from selected money managers (carefully vetted by Merrill). Sensitive to your risk tolerance and other criteria, we use a range of statistical tools and other technology to manage your account and remain flexible to help maintain an appropriate risk vs. return ratio. Across stocks, bonds and other asset classes, we offer access to ESG (environmental, social and governance) investments. We also offer access to alternative investments* – allowing you to benefit from non-correlated assets that we deem attractive, affordable and likely to offer reduced volatility.

• Support you and your family members as stewards of your wealth, so that you can make reasoned decisions about the direction and scope of your legacy.

In everything we do, we abide by our own set of principles and guidelines.

• Only promise what we can deliver.
• Recognize that what we do is more important than what we say we do.
• Communicate clearly and in a timely manner, to help you avoid navigating by emotion.
• Address your less obvious concerns, not just your questions.
• Be transparent, honest and admit any mistake – you deserve nothing less

*Some or all alternative investment programs may not be in the best interest of certain investors. No assurance can be given that any alternative investment’s investment objectives will be achieved.

*Impact investing and/or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) managers may take into consideration factors beyond traditional financial information to select securities, which could result in relative investment performance deviating from other strategies or broad market benchmarks, depending on whether such sectors or investments are in or out of favor in the market. Further, ESG strategies may rely on certain values based criteria to eliminate exposures found in similar strategies or broad market benchmarks, which could also result in relative investment performance deviating.


We 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, we will work with you to develop an approach designed to help address your financial needs.

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.

Kyle Sylor

Wealth Strategies Advisor

Bank of America, N.A.

Amara Aftab Hussain

Wealth Management Banking Specialist


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.