John Inhouse serves as the Senior Market Executive of the Atlanta Buckhead & Associates Market headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. The Market includes offices in Buckhead, Atlanta Galleria, and Alpharetta, and is comprised of over 300 partners.
John began his career with Merrill Lynch in Akron, Ohio in 1990 as a Financial Advisor and was a Circle of Excellence Financial Advisor and Resident Director from 1994-1998. John became a member of the leadership team in MerrillLynch’s Global Private Client Group in 1998 and served as the AssociateRegional Director for the Mid-America Region from 1998 – 1999.
Prior to leading Merrill’s Private Banking and Investment Group in the Pacific Northwest, John was the Director of the Akron and Cleveland Complex from 1999-2006. He was nominated to the Director’s Advisory Council to Management in 2006 and became the Chairperson in 2008. In 2009, John assumed the role as Regional ManagingDirector of the Mid-South Region based in Atlanta, GA.
John attended Youngstown State University and is a Board Member of Clark Atlanta University Financial Planning Advisory Board and Morehouse College’sExecutive Committee. John recently completed his board tenure with the AtlantaPolice Foundation. John serves as an Executive Sponsor with LEAD (Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Development) for Women, the Executive Advisor for the Atlanta Black Executive Leadership Team (BELT) as well as the Executive Sponsor of Bank of America’s Black Professionals’ Group.
He also is an Executive Member of Merrill’s National Black/African American Financial Advisor Council. John recently accepted the position of leading the Southeast Division’s Market Executive Leadership Academy (MELA-Readiness). Additionally, John is a 2019 recipient of the Bank of America/Merrill Global Diversity & Inclusion Award.
John resides with his family in Sandy Springs, GA and enjoys traveling, boating and spending time with his wife, two sons and daughter.
Connect with John on LinkedIn.
What You’ll Learn In This Episode
- Unique trends driving wealth creation in Atlanta, including younger and more diverse clients
- Wealth management needs of Atlanta residents
- How clients are embracing financial technology over the last year
- How Merrill is meeting the new demands in the Atlanta Market
- How Merrill is developing local talent
Intro: [00:00:04] Broadcasting live from the Business RadioX studios in Atlanta, Georgia. It’s time for Atlanta Business Radio brought to you by on pay Atlanta’s new standard in payroll. Now here’s your host.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:24] Lee Kantor here. Another episode of Atlanta Business Radio. And this is going to be a good one. But before we get started, it’s important to recognize our sponsor on pay. Without them, we couldn’t be sharing these important stories today on Atlanta Business Radio. We have John Inhouse and he is with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management. Welcome, John.
John Inhouse: [00:00:43] Welcome. Good afternoon, Leigh. It’s a pleasure to be here.
Lee Kantor: [00:00:45] Well, before we get too far into things, tell us a little bit about Merrill Lynch wealth management, you know, mission purpose, like the type of people that you serve.
John Inhouse: [00:00:55] Thank you, sir. So we we serve, you know, investors and families as well, as well as businesses across the Atlanta metropolitan area. And our mission is really to be five things to our clients. Number one was to be a wealth management planner to articulate each financial decision with a financial plan. Number two, more traditionally provide all of the investment advisory services and advice, but doing that based on financial goals and a financial plan, you know, kind of what we call goals based wealth management. You start with goals and dreams and then you plug in the investments. We also do personal banking and in terms of credit, balance sheet management, mortgages, credit cards, which has been made easier with our obviously the relationship we have with with Bank of America part of the enterprise. We’re also philanthropic consults. We help our clients and families with their philanthropic pursuits. Family, legacy, wealth transfer. And really the last thing is we’re a friend. Know when you’re in the weeds with somebody on trying to get their family goals and their and their most important goals in their one lifetime. You become friends and you help them with all things that involve money.
Lee Kantor: [00:02:06] Now, how does Merrill differentiate themselves in the marketplace with so much competition among, you know, kind of these robo advisors with these boutique firms? Why is a client better served at Merrill?
John Inhouse: [00:02:22] So the first I’ll take the robo advisor is a little bit of a different scenario. Right. And we do have Merrill Lynch edge, which does have we do it’s not so much a robo advisor, but you could do it yourself or you could use sort of a computer driven model of investing. But there comes a time when there’s a tipping point or a line in the sand where a family or a client says, you know, I really want a person, right? I want to have a financial plan. I want someone to walk me through it. I want someone to tell me how much money I’ll be able to spend when I retire at 65, how much money I need to send my children to school. And I would say what sets us apart the most is delivering financial planning. And by the way, we deliver financial plans at no additional cost. It’s part of what we do. So it doesn’t matter who you meet, whether it’s a neighbor, it’s the wealthiest family on the block or the wealthiest family, you know, the vast majority of people. They do not have a financial plan. They might have an investment plan. So they might say, oh, yeah, I have a plan. But their plan is what percentage? Stocks and bonds. They can’t tell you what percentage probability they’ll have of reaching their dreams of, let’s say I want to have after tax income of $9,000 a month, you know, inflation adjusted when I hit 62. We deliver that and we based our investments off that. That’s the difference.
Lee Kantor: [00:03:49] Now, is that becoming more and more relevant to folks as the market is kind of in a downturn now where you have when it’s a bull market and everything’s going up, then, you know, all these people that are doing it themselves feel like they figured something out. But when the market kind of goes sideways or goes down, all of a sudden, you know, people are exposed and then they might start panicking. Is this where kind of the value of having a trusted adviser comes into play to help you kind of off that ledge so you don’t make kind of a monumental mistake during this time?
John Inhouse: [00:04:23] Lee, what a great question. You’re absolutely right. I would absolutely agree with you. I would add to that you need a financial plan all the time, right? Because, you know, I don’t know what my advisors would say. Lee, if you were a client and I’m an advisor of Merrill Lynch, which I was for eight years and loved it, if you call me yesterday when the market was down again and said, John, you know what’s going on, you know, I could go through a myriad of philanthropic or I’m sorry, but, you know, sort of what’s going on with globally, right? Geopolitically, I could go on about the recession. I can go on about is there going to be a recession, talk about inflation and rising rates or. Right. I can say that and then say, hey, by the way, Lee, I just updated your plan and you’re still on goal to retire in six years. Right. So, you know, that’s when the planning is needed the most. But I’d argue that planning is needed all the time. And that’s the difference in goals based wealth management where we lead with planning, we it all ties, but especially when it’s volatile. Right. That’s when you want to rerun the plan to say and that. And so if I could you know you made a really good point, like when people would call and and make an emotional decision if you call me and said, oh, my God, John, the market’s down again, I want to get out. I would say, well, Lee, you know, let me just share with you. We’re still on goal. We plan for this, right? That’s why we have the asset allocation we have in case there is a market pullback. So there’s no reason to do that. So great question. And planning is is needed every day of every client’s life. But but most importantly, as you put it, when it’s volatile and when it’s going down or sideways.
Lee Kantor: [00:05:59] And I think planning is critically important at the different stages you are and you’re kind of investment life cycle. You know, when you’re accumulating wealth and it’s going down, you’re almost high fiving like, Oh, I’m buying things on a discount today. But when you’re retired and you don’t have kind of an influx of money coming in and it goes down, you’re feeling a little differently.
John Inhouse: [00:06:23] I would agree 1,000%. And you know, what we we call those accumulators are saving money and accumulating. And just like you describe, they almost want to buy when it’s down and there’s the transition into retirement. And then you become an accumulator where you don’t have the steady income of a job coming. And then you need to live off the investments you have and make sure you don’t run out of money. And that’s when it becomes critically important. But I would say that having a plan the entire time is important. But as you approach retirement, it’s it’s even more important.
Lee Kantor: [00:06:54] So now, is there a niche that Merrill serves more than others, or is this kind of anything goes? Anybody anywhere along their career, anywhere in their wealth kind of life cycle that is a is a good fit for Merrill folks.
John Inhouse: [00:07:11] So typically people that just start out investing that might have a few thousand would would use Merrill Lynch edge. So we have Merrill Edge which provides you with an advisor a little bit different than what you do when you’re in normal Merrill Lynch wealth management. We do have planning tools. We do help you with guided investments. And then then there comes the point where you, as you said, as you go through the different stages, then you really need an advisor, right? Then you need that one on one advisor to have that monthly contact, the quarterly reviews, update your plan on a quarterly basis so we can help along the way. And it’s just what channel best serves the clients and families we we meet.
Lee Kantor: [00:07:53] So now are you seeing anything, any kind of surprising trends that you’re seeing? Like, is there more interest now for young folks than maybe there has been historically? Is there, you know, are people asking for more types of alternative investment options? Like, are you seeing anything interesting out there in the market nowadays?
John Inhouse: [00:08:15] Well, you know, I think with the financial uncertainty that we’ve had the last two years with jobs, the market, the economy, the pandemic, there has been an unprecedented interest in financial advice overall. People want to know. Right. People you know, you remember March during when the pandemic first hit, when the markets were I think it was right around March 23rd when the market really capitulated. That’s when everyone really was saying, my gosh, how long will this take to recover? And I have experienced that firsthand in Atlanta, which is, of course, a growing market. And we’ve been able to acquire more clients. You know, we we’re at an all time high and client acquisition where an all time high and client satisfaction and an all time high on client financial planning. So I think through the pandemic, our advisor teams and leaders have been really focused on client engagement and making sure that every client is aware that the full capabilities that Merrill and Bank of America have to meet their financial needs. So, yes, there has been definitely there’s been more interest, especially over the last few years with the pandemic, etc..
Lee Kantor: [00:09:18] Now, are young people looking towards financial advising as a career path? Are you seeing more and more people interested in that?
John Inhouse: [00:09:27] We do we do see a lot of interest in financial you know, financial planning is, you know, it’s a noble cause when done correctly. And, yes, there’s always a we have a phenomenal training program. We’ve never, ever had a year when we didn’t have our training program. We’re really proud of it and we’re really proud of what we can deliver to, you know, to our clients and future clients. So so, yes, there is it’s a very popular career vocation to say, I want to help people plan their their these are it’s so important when you think about especially as people get closed in on retirement, it’s so important that people have that peace of mind when they put their head on their pillow at night to know they’re going to be able to live in dignity or live the retirement that they always dreamed of. And they’ll do that by having a plan. So there are a lot of college graduates that are interested or second career, early second career people that follow this path.
Lee Kantor: [00:10:22] Now let’s talk a little bit about the people at the different kind of stages of their career. So if you’re a brand new, you just started working a recent grad, you got your first job and maybe you’re putting things away for retirement for the year, even just thinking about it for the first time. You said that there are some tools that you can use through Merrill. That’s still that’s somebody that could still engage with Merrill and and create a relationship that might they might not use it to the fullest degree today. But down the road, it might be something that they evolve into a deeper relationship.
John Inhouse: [00:11:01] Absolutely. And that’s Merrill Edge. And by the way, Merrill Edge would also offer them the full suite of all of our Bank of America banking advantages. Right. So they would have both of those. And then as as they continued along, there might be a point where their Merrill Lynch Edge advisor might say, look, you might want to meet a merrill Lynch wealth management advisor, you know, to go to that next step. But but truly from I mean, my 16 year old son has had a merrill Lynch account for for a few years. Right. I mean, and he understands investing and understands companies and what works. And he has a say. And then we use some of the models that Merrill Lynch has. So it’s a great way to teach financial literacy. And, you know, it’s kind of fun to watch people cross from being a saver to an educated, savvy investor. And in the earlier that happens, in the earlier they start, you know, I’ve got a 22 year old that’s you know, he’s got a Roth, right. And because he’s worked. And so it’s fun to watch those younger individuals, you know, start early because it’s amazing what could be done over time, as you know.
Lee Kantor: [00:12:09] Lee And then if you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur, there’s a place for you here as well. Like you don’t have to it doesn’t have to be through your company, right? You can still engage with Merrill if you’re an entrepreneur or solopreneur or somebody like that.
John Inhouse: [00:12:24] Absolutely. And of course, we have incredible business bankers across Atlanta. We’ve got 5000 partners across Atlanta that are Bank of America merrill Lynch across lines of businesses. And not only the consumer bank, which is when you hear Bank of America, you think of the most. But I think the business banking that we have is incredible, where we can really help a business owner, whether it’s with cash management, it’s lending. It’s we have amazing practice management around medical professionals to help them lease equipment. It’s amazing what we can do when we kind of put the power of Bank of America with Merrill Lynch. It’s truly exciting. I’ve been here for 32 years and it’s really fun to watch the number of solutions that we have now. All we need to do, though, is start with goals based, right? It doesn’t matter how many solutions you have if they’re not the right ones. That’s why we always start with goals based. Really understand the client. If they’re a business owner, that’s a whole nother nuance, right? If there’s needs of the business that will help in their in their individual wealth management, we have the banking team that can do that as well.
Lee Kantor: [00:13:30] And then if you are a corporate person, you can still tap into the advisors and the planners. And especially as you approach retirement. This is I think this is a must have conversation with somebody to help make sure that you’re on the right track to get to where you want to go. And I agree with you that this goal is based. I mean, you have to know where you’re aiming or else you’re never going to get there.
John Inhouse: [00:13:56] Lee. I agree. Again, I mean, just because this is what I do and it’s one of the most passionate about from a career perspective, it’s the only thing I’ve really done. It’s amazing how many people you meet. It doesn’t matter. They could be a top position, a top attorney, a top business owner. They don’t have a financial plan and the things they own, they just bought for through happenstance or someone sold it to them and they never took the time to put it all together to say, you know, do I have too much in stock? I mean, if you’re if you’re if you’ve done really well and you don’t need a ton of money when you retire, why own 90% stocks? There’s no reason people take too much risk. And once they understand that, wow, you know, I don’t need to do that, right? I don’t need to have everything I own in stocks. I could actually have short term fixed income or whatever is the most appropriate or, you know, more dividend yielding investments that are that are a bit more stable. It’s amazing the peace of mind. First of all, it’s an aha moment. They’re like, wow, I didn’t realize that. I didn’t. Or, you know, it’s really the three questions that we ask. And the first question is, what’s the primary intent for your wealth? Right? Or in other words, you have money, you have savings, you have an investment, you have a41k, tell me the jobs that money has to do.
John Inhouse: [00:15:11] And typically people will say, get me through retirement, get my kids through college. I have a family member that I need that needs some of my financial support. I have a couple of favorite charities. And then you ask them the second question and that’s do you feel like you have enough, not enough or more than enough? And they always say, I don’t know. And when they say I don’t know, it’s when we say, you know, have you ever talked about this with a financial professional? No, I have it. We need to do that. And that’s the first thing we do and we’re happy to do it. We don’t care what they do. If you can do it yourself, you can do it with us. But we want everyone to have a plan because once they have that plan, as you said, they’re going to make better educated decisions regardless of what the market’s going to do. They’re going to have peace of mind and their lives are going to be much better and we’re going to greatly increase the probability of their success.
Lee Kantor: [00:15:57] And this is a very complex problem. I mean, you don’t know when you’re going to die. You don’t know what your health is going to be as you age. There’s a lot of unknowns that you’re making assumptions with. And if you don’t have somebody kind of guiding and playing out scenarios, it’s just really difficult for the layperson to understand all of the kind of ramifications of certain actions.
John Inhouse: [00:16:23] Absolutely. You know, and even when it comes to disability or life insurance, it doesn’t have to be even with their employer. Right. I mean, people don’t they don’t really know how much life insurance to buy through their employer. Right. Or or should I have this ability? And the best part of what we do and the best part of the three plus decades I’ve been with Merrill and now Merrill, Bank of America is watching people’s eyes light up when they realize, Wow, I now know what I’m doing. I, I now understand whether I’m in good shape, bad shape or great shape, but I know where I am and now I can plan for it. And I could get into the point where I land at age 65. I land on that island with this much money after taxes. You know, my my kids are going to college. Maybe they’re lucky enough or they can help their grandchildren. All those things. When you ask people, what is your retirement look like, what is what are the goals you’d like your money to accomplish? And you build a plan and accomplish those. There’s nothing, nothing at least better for me and my team than to watch that come to fruition.
Lee Kantor: [00:17:24] Well, if somebody wants to learn more, have a more substantive conversation with you or somebody on the team, what’s the best way to do that?
John Inhouse: [00:17:31] Well, sure you could obviously Merrill Lynch. My name is John in-house I ion USA where I’m here in Atlanta, Buckhead and I’m the senior market executive and managing director. I could also be reached in my office where I’m sitting right now, which is 4042312500. And the one thing I just impress upon everyone is, please take the time to do a financial plan. And by the way, we do not charge for our financial plans. So this is no, we’re not looking for people to call us for 5000. No, let us do a financial plan for you. You can decide what to do with your money later, but let us do the plan for you. You’ll feel so much better.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:09] Good stuff. Well, John, thank you so much for sharing your story today. You’re doing important work and we appreciate you.
John Inhouse: [00:18:16] It’s a pleasure and an honor to be on your on your program, sir. Have a great rest of the afternoon and stay safe.
Lee Kantor: [00:18:20] All right. This is Lee Kantor. We’ll see you all next time on Atlanta Business Radio.
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