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Alex Watts

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Profile

Alex utilizes 15 years of Private Banking experience to provide financial guidance and tailored advice to high-net-worth clients. He is honored to be a part of Merrill’s Private Wealth Management division, an elite group of less than 450 advisors within Merrill’s broader wealth management business of over 14,000 financial advisors.

Alex works with a limited number of clients, many of whom are Business Owners and Entrepreneurs. This enables him to gain deep insight and perspective into each client’s specific wealth management needs. Part of this process often includes the Private Sales program, which consists of Bank of America’s middle-market advisory group, as well as external partners. Through this channel, Alex helps deliver a wide range of investment banking solutions to business owners, such as a full or partial business sale, merger, acquisition, ESOP or recapitalization services. 

Alex partners with the Westmoreland Group, which manages $6 billion in assets for first and second generation business owners (as of 12/31/2019). The team is led by Rod Westmoreland and was recently ranked #3 Nationally (#1 in Georgia) by “Barron’s Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams in 2020."*

Previously, Alex was a Private Banker with J.P. Morgan in Atlanta. Prior to J.P. Morgan, he spent 5 years as an Investment Analyst with GenSpring Family Offices, which was the largest RIA in the country before being acquired by SunTrust Banks. 

Alex graduated with a B.A. in Economics (emphasis Finance) from Emory University in 2004, and an M.B.A. in Finance from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State in 2008.   

An Atlanta native, Alex is involved in a number of civic and philanthropic activities. He is currently co-Chair of the Emory Entrepreneur Network, an Emory alumni group that recognizes notable business leaders. Alex also served on the Board for Intown Collaborative Ministries, whose mission is to prevent and reverse homelessness and hunger in Intown Atlanta. He is a Legacy Advisor to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, former chair of the Trust for Public Land’s Corporate Sponsors Committee, and former Session member, Chair of Finance, at Morningside Presbyterian Church.

Alex lives in the Morningside area of Atlanta with his wife, daughter, son, and two dogs.



*Source: The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" list, April 17, 2020. The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" list is the first-ever ranking of wealth management teams that specialize in serving individuals and families. The teams are ranked on a variety of factors, including their size and shape, the regulatory records and credentials of their members and the resources they have at their disposal to serve their client bases. The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" ranking considered advisors with a minimum of seven years financial services experience and have been employed at their current firm for at least one year. Quantitative and qualitative measures used to determine the advisor rankings include: client assets, return on assets, client satisfaction/retention, compliance records, and community involvement, among others. Barron's does not receive compensation from advisors, participating firms and their affiliates, or the media in exchange for rankings. Rankings and recognition from Barron's are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results, and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. Barron's is a trademark of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.






  • EDUCATION

    Emory University

    Robinson College of Business Georgia State University

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Where do we begin? It starts with you.

At Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, your financial advisor focuses on the things you care about most- family, goals and priorities - even as they change over the years.

Understanding Your Life

A Commitment to Service and Excellence

Alex has built his practice around a commitment to service, integrity, discreetness, and accessibility. He uses a collaborative, consultative approach to understand each client’s financial situation, which includes liquidity needs, time horizon, and risk tolerance. Alex’s number one goal is to help clients achieve their short- and long-term goals in a consistent and safe manner.

As a client of Merrill Private Wealth Management, you have access to services and resources ordinarily reserved for the world’s largest institutions. We work with individuals and families spanning multiple generations, as well as business owners and executives. Using a goals-based wealth management approach, we put our clients at the center of every personalized strategy.

Investment Philosophy

We believe that each client’s unique goals should be at the center of their financial decision making, and form the ultimate foundation of their financial strategy.  We therefore follow a detailed process to invest holistically for our clients across various asset classes.  Our allocations are dynamic in nature with consideration given to both valuations and the broader economic environment.  We favor investments with strong cash flow and stable balance sheets to help meet our absolute return benchmark.

Through the Merrill Lynch Investment Advisory Program we offer a variety of custom, 3rd party strategies that deliver an appropriate balance of risk and reward.  Merrill’s Due Diligence team is made up of 62 members with an average industry experience of 19 years.  Our investment manager offerings have undergone a thorough evaluation process before they can be included in your portfolios.  Based on an eight-factor analysis, this process incorporates both quantitative inputs and qualitative factors, allowing us to capture a 360-degree view of each manager to determine whether there is a high probability that they meet their individual investment objectives.  Most importantly, our actions are grounded in a deep understanding of what matters most for our clients, and are complemented with regular reviews. 

Our firm has also developed a robust private equity, private debt, and private real asset pipeline, which starts with over a thousand managers that are eventually narrowed down to 30-50 funds and 9-14 actual launches per year.  During this thorough screening process, which includes in-person meetings, our Due Diligence team evaluates each manager’s investment process, industry experience, and risk controls.  The team places a particular emphasis on identifying managers employing a repeatable process that seems well suited to generate alpha and solid risk adjusted returns over a market cycle. Through ongoing analysis and tracking, including more onsite visits, the Due Diligence team seeks to ensure that the rationale for our investment conviction remains valid and identify any other issues that warrant further analysis.

Impact Investing has become more relevant now than ever before.  To that end, our Firm’s Chief US Equity Strategist, Savita Subramanian, is also head of ESG research at BofA Global Research.  Her team follows the same process to assess ESG investment managers and non-ESG managers, with added research into how ESG managers use ESG data or research to achieve target risk-adjusted returns and impact.  Please reach out to me if you’re interested in hearing more about our industry leading ESG investment process.



*Some or all alternative investments may not be in the best interests for certain investors. Certain alternative investments carry significant risk and are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as mutual funds and other traditional investments. For these reasons, access to alternative investments may be limited to investors who are designated as sophisticated, high-net-worth investors. 2. BofA Global Research is research produced by BofA Securities, Inc. (“BofAS”) and/or one or more of its affiliates. BofAS is a registered broker-dealer, Member SIPC, and wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation. 3. 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. 4. 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.

My Process

My process is designed to help deliver a customized experience to assist clients not only in wealth accumulation and preservation, but in areas that go beyond investments. Because significant wealth requires customized, goals based financial strategies, we believe in building lasting relationships with a limited number of clients. We believe that while significant wealth brings complex challenges, our experience, passion and perspectives can help you simplify your life. By working with a team of specialists, we draw on the resources and insights of a global financial institution the create strategies that reflect your aspirations both for yourself and future generations. This includes the following services:

  • Asset Allocation
  • Portfolio Construction
  • Investment Due Diligence
  • Trust and Estate planning
  • Credit Optimization solutions from Bank of America
  • Mergers and Acquisitions (Exit Strategies)
  • Access to Banking Services form Bank of America

Behavioral Finance


Behavioral finance is the study of psychological influences on the behavior of investors. Drawing upon research in the field of behavioral finance, Merrill developed the Investment Personality Assessment to help us get to know you better as an investor. By gaining a deeper understanding of how you think and feel about investing, we can customize the financial approach we develop together to help you pursue what matters most to you and your family. This can help us better prepare for the future, whether it be for retirement, wealth-building, or investment decisions.

Wealth Allocation Framework

We help our clients build a Wealth Allocation Framework around 3 different risk buckets: 1. Personal Risk: preserving your standard of living and short-term liquidity needs (cash/savings) 2. Market Risk: strategies designed to provide risk adjusted market returns for maintaining future lifestyle (diversified portfolio of investments in stocks, bonds, alternative investments) and 3. Aspirational Risk: enhanced lifestyle and/or legacy wealth for future generations (e.g., owning a business, concentrated stock)

Finally, we know that your life and goals change. We have tools to help you keep track of these changes so they can be reflected in your financial approach.
Some or all alternative investments may not be in the best interests for certain investors. Certain alternative investments carry significant risk and are not subject to the same regulatory oversight as mutual funds and other traditional investments. For these reasons, access to alternative investments may be limited to investors who are designated as sophisticated, high-net-worth investors.

Who We Work With

Founders, Business Owners & Entrepreneurs

When you have built your own business, your personal finances and the life of your company are closely intertwined. You may be thinking about how to invest in your company’s growth while also deciding how best to use your personal assets. Helping ensure the future of your business likely involves employee benefits, retirement plans and succession planning. Helping secure your family’s legacy could entail wealth transfer strategies, trusts and philanthropy. Whatever your specific needs, we at Merrill Private Wealth Management can help entrepreneurs and business owners balance their personal financial lives with their life’s work. We are dedicated in providing the experience and resources to help support your ongoing success.

Part of this process often includes the Private Sales program, which consists of Bank of America’s middle-market advisory group, as well as direct access to third-party, industry-specific investment banking advice and execution. Through this channel, Alex helps deliver wide-ranging investment banking solutions to business owners such as a business sale, merger, acquisition, ESOPs or recapitalization services.

Intergenerational Family Wealth

As a family that spans multiple generations, you have needs that go beyond preserving assets, tax minimization strategies and designating heirs. Your goals also likely include passing on values and helping the next generation become effective stewards. We can help with personalized wealth transfer strategies, family wealth education and developing and implementing philanthropic visions. In working with you to create an approach that reflects your family’s intentions and helps ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, we proceed in a manner that recognizes the complexities of your life challenges and the unique nature of your goals. Our extensive experience working with other families of significant wealth helps us to see and share best practices to help you achieve them.

Corporate Executives

We understand the complexities that come with your executive position and the extreme demands on your time. We can help you develop a customized strategy that your finances and compensation require. We can help with risk management strategies for your concentrated stock position while navigating complex SEC rules, trading restrictions and reporting requirements. If you’ve just been promoted and would like help evaluating your new compensation plan, or if you’re looking to develop a long-term financial strategy for you and your family — designed to enable you to live life as you want it, with reliable access to cash — we can help simplify your financial life, as well as develop new strategies as your career and goals evolve.

Family Offices: As private wealth advisors with Merrill Private Wealth Management, we work with prominent families to help them manage the ongoing complexities they face. Our deep experience with family offices enables us to tailor a range of services to help meet your specific needs. We can provide access to Merrill for investment and wealth management, and to Bank of America for governance, asset custody and administration, as well as assisting in the financial education of younger family members. In working with you to create and implement plans reflecting your specific intentions, our goal is to help your family enterprise succeed, and that your knowledge and values are passed along to the next generation. Together, we will focus on strategies that recognize the unique nature of your family’s mission, history and goals.

Professional Athletes

As a professional athlete, you understand the significant rewards that sports can provide, the grit and determination that help you to succeed in a challenging environment, and the unique financial needs that come with your success. Merrill Private Wealth Management works with a select group of current and former professional athletes as they pursue their financial and legacy goals. We are focused on helping you enjoy the lifestyle you have worked so hard to achieve while striving for the financial future you want for yourself and your family. Drawing on our extensive capabilities and the broad resources of a global institution, we offer financial strategies designed to simplify the complexities of your life. This includes access to trust and estate planning services from Bank of America and, through Merrill, investment strategies for the operation of a business, and education of family members to help bring your legacy vision to life.

For certain clients, Alex partners with the Westmoreland Group, which is one of the top Private Wealth Management teams at Merrill. The combined team oversees more than $6 billion in assets for first and second generation business owners (as of 12/31/2019). The team is led by Rod Westmoreland and was recently ranked #3 Nationally (#1 in Georgia) by “Barron’s Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams in 2020.

*Source: The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" list, April 17, 2020. The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" list is the first-ever ranking of wealth management teams that specialize in serving individuals and families. The teams are ranked on a variety of factors, including their size and shape, the regulatory records and credentials of their members and the resources they have at their disposal to serve their client bases. The Barron's "Top 50 Private Wealth Management Teams" ranking considered advisors with a minimum of seven years financial services experience and have been employed at their current firm for at least one year. Quantitative and qualitative measures used to determine the advisor rankings include: client assets, return on assets, client satisfaction/retention, compliance records, and community involvement, among others.Barron's does not receive compensation from advisors, participating firms and their affiliates, or the media in exchange for rankings. Rankings and recognition from Barron's are no guarantee of future investment success and do not ensure that a current or prospective client will experience a higher level of performance results, and such rankings should not be construed as an endorsement of the advisor. Barron's is a trademark of Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

Your Financial Approach

We offer you access to the investing insights of Merrill, trust and fiduciary services from Bank of America Private Bank, and the banking convenience of Bank of America to help you pursue your goals. We will work to help you stay on track, regardless of what the markets are doing.

FAMILY
Taking care of your family and other people in your life
  • Trust & Estate Planning Services4
  • Education Funding1
  • Insurance3
HEALTH
Planning for healthcare expenses now and in the future
  • Long-term Care Insurance3
  • Health Savings Account2
  • Disability Insurance3
HOME
Upsizing, downsizing, remodeling or buying a vacation home
  • Home Loans2
  • Home Equity Lines of Credit2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Credit Cards2
WORK
Working in retirement, selling or starting a business
  • Bank of America Business Banking2
  • Exchange Funds1
  • Concentrated Stock Management1
  • Succession Planning1
LEISURE
Spending your free time in meaningful ways
  • Credit Cards2
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Structured Lending2
GIVING
Volunteering, mentoring others and giving to charities
  • Donor-Advised Funds4
  • Private Foundations4
  • Charitable Trusts4
FINANCE
Using your finances to bring it all together
  • Merrill Investment Accounts1
  • Investment Advisory Accounts1
  • Alternative Investments1
  • Exchange-Traded Funds1
  • Mutual Funds1
  • Closed-end Funds1
  • Fixed Income Products1
  • Options1
  • Annuities3
  • Impact Portfolios1
  • Market-Linked Investments1
  • Securities-Based Lending2
  • Margin1
  • Home Loans2
  • Bank of America Checking and Savings Accounts2
  • Credit Cards2
  • Online Account Access1,2

1 Investment products are offered by Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated.
2 Banking, mortgage and home equity products offered by Bank of America, N.A.
3 Insurance and annuity products offered through Merrill Lynch Life Agency Inc.
4 Trust and fiduciary services are provided by Bank of America Private Bank.

Staying on Track

We understand that both your life and the financial markets can change over time. By periodically 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.


Periodic 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.


    Monitoring 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.

    Wealth Management Your Way

    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 I can help you create a financial approach that reflects your personality. Only then can I 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.


      Merrill_Capabilities_Brochure.png  

      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.

      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.