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The 2 ‘major threats’ this Top 40 Under 40 advisor is guarding against

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Nicole Christians’ team underwent a paradigm shift last year. The reason?

Cybersecurity and identity theft: These two issues she says are at the heart of protecting client information. It’s a huge priority, the Merrill Lynch advisor says.

“We made a major shift in mindset [last] year to re-train ourselves and educate our clients to communicate and do business differently,” she says.

She credits her teammates with rising to the challenge, emphasizing their commitment and work ethic.

Christians, who has been with Merrill since 2002, ranked No. 4 on this year’s Top 40 Advisors Under 40. She had production of $4,888,517 and AUM of $753 million.

Here, she shares what other trends she’s watching in wealth management and what goals she hopes to achieve in 2020.

Click here to see who else made this year’s Top 40 Advisors Under 40.

What type of clients do you serve — and how do you meet new ones?

Our team is diverse and multigenerational, and our clients reflect that. Being in the Detroit area, we serve a lot of automotive, manufacturing, and healthcare professionals, but our core business is built around helping people manage their financial lives, which applies to everyone. I’ve met new clients in a myriad of ways, but most come from referrals.

Have you ever turned away a client for being a bad fit for your practice?

Fortunately, our team has a lot of different personalities and typically, if a client isn’t a great fit for me, there’s a strong chance they will work well with one of my teammates.

What was your biggest work accomplishment in 2019, and was there something that nearly kept you from achieving it?

I am most proud of the work that we did toward engaging clients digitally this year. Cybersecurity and identity theft are major threats, and keeping client’s information safeguarded is a huge priority. We made a major shift in mindset [last] year to re-train ourselves and educate our clients to communicate and do business differently. This could only be achieved with a commitment to change, evolve, and learn, which was both the opportunity and the challenge.

What was your biggest personal accomplishment in 2019?

Running the Napa Valley half marathon and not killing my houseplants are high on the list.

How do you keep abreast of changes in wealth management?

Reading industry publications and talking with peers helps, but my firm has an incredible leadership team that offers invaluable insight into changes that are coming. I think that leaning into Merrill’s strategy has helped our team stay in front of things.

What trends are you watching in 2020?

International markets and the upcoming election.

What qualities do you admire in your team members?

Integrity, commitment, and work ethic. I trust every member of my team to do the right thing, put the client first, and commit the time and effort necessary to get the job done. They are all incredible and I’m lucky to work with them.

These advisors oversaw $26 billion in combined client assets.
January 23

What was the last good book you read?

“Benjamin Franklin: An American Life,” by Walter Isaacson.

What TV show are you currently streaming?

“The Crown” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”

What goal, professional or personal, do you want to achieve in 2020?

I have my sights on another Ironman. I’d also like to re-master the Bach cello suites.

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