Its storied past has been has been marred by its near collapse during the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent sale to Bank of America. But Winthrop H. Smith Jr., says he does not want the firm remembered this way.
MarketWatch reports that he’s out with a new book, Catching Lightning in a Bottle: How Merrill Lynch Revolutionized the Financial World. In it, he detailed the firm’s rich history of opening Wall Street to middle-class Americans as well as the blunders that led to its fall.
For Smith, who has met every Merrill Lynch chief executive throughout its history, the story is personal. His father was the Smith in Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Inc. Smith was only 11 years old when his father died. And much of what he’s learned about his father came after he’d earned his MBA at Wharton and began working at 'Mother Merrill'.
'They brought Wall Street to Main Street, changing the paradigm of financial services in the modern age', Smith wrote of his father and the firm’s namesake partner Charles Merrill. 'But most important, they developed a uniquely powerful set of principles that became the North Star for future generations of Merrill leaders'.
Those principles spawned a culture that was a part of the reason the firm earned the nickname 'Mother Merrill'. Brokers around the world went through the same training, they were paid salaries and bonuses instead of commission, and they were expected to honor core values, which are etched in the concrete of Merrill’s New York headquarters: 'Client focus. Respect for the individual. Teamwork. Responsible citizenship. Integrity'.
Hit the link below to access the complete MarketWatch article: