Merrill Lynch adviser uses discipline learned in religious school to manage $1.8 billion for his clients

Last name: David Katz

Solidify: Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Location: New York, New York

AT M : $1.8 billion

Forbes ranking: Best-In-State Wealth Advisors, Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisors, Top Next-Gen Wealth Advisors

Background: Katz, 39, has worked at Merrill Lynch since he was 19 as an intern while still a student at Yeshiva University Sy Syms School of Business. He credits his father for his passion for business and finance, describing himself as the son who followed him. It was during his final year after this internship that he realized that wealth management was the industry he wanted to work in.

Investment philosophy/strategy: For Katz, profiling a client by determining their risk tolerance and financial goals is the most important part of an investment strategy. In a debate between active and passive, he sees both as useful for clients in different cases.

His practice is the product of changes in wealth management that have shifted the industry from transactional to advisory.

Competitive advantage : Having attended religious schools most of his life, he had much longer days than other students, which helped to strengthen his work ethic and his ability to balance a variety of tasks and responsibilities.

Best Advice: Her dad taught her the phrase “slower is faster,” which means if you do it right the first time, you’ll make fewer mistakes along the way.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge facing his practice is the many unknowns ranging from industry changes to geopolitical turbulence. Instead, he chooses to focus on things he can control, like his team and his process.

mentors: Richard Pluta, a fellow Forbes/SHOOK Top Advisor and partner of Katz is a major influence as well as his father and mother to whom he credits his value system.

Lessons learned: For Katz, mistakes are an opportunity to build character and the way he handles human error is an opportunity to differentiate himself. “You can always aim for perfection and achieve excellence,” he adds.

Customer’s biggest misunderstanding: With a lot of noise in the world, Katz sees more and more confusion for clients who simultaneously pay attention to a range of media and also hear their social circles amid a constant stream of information.

Investment Prospects: Katz is “not out to predict the markets,” instead seeking to educate clients sufficiently upfront so that they are prepared for both bearish and bullish market environments.

“You have to be transparent with clients and explain what to expect from each asset class and the appropriate time horizon,” he adds. Katz seeks to keep clients focused on goals and not predicting or looking to time markets.

“I have the luxury of speaking with some top-tier asset managers and garnering some of the best insights from some of the best intellectual capital in the world. So I have great resources at my disposal to help clients take the best possible decisions, but I try not to make predictions and in doing so create false expectations.

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