The Van Wagoner Group

Private Wealth Advisors
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At The Van Wagoner Group, we understand that significant wealth can present both opportunities and challenges. We have the tenure, discipline, and integrity to help you create the future you envision, forging a meaningful legacy.

Meet the Team

The private wealth advisors with Merrill Private Wealth Management are rigorously trained to help meet your specialized needs with relationships based on trust and personalized service.

Additional Resources

The following specialists do not make securities recommendations. Please contact your Merrill Private Wealth Advisor if you have questions about how a specialist might be able to assist you.

Katherine VanMeter

Alternative Investments Sales Desk Specialist

Bank of America, N.A.

Paul Stauffer

Wealth Strategies Advisor

Bank of America, N.A.


Merrill is proud of our advisors who’ve received recognition from financial industry publications or directly from Bank of America Corporation. We believe they are setting the standard for exemplary client service.

John E Van Wagoner

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2024
Published on April 3, 2024. Rankings based on data as of June 30, 2023.*

Barron's "Top 1,200 Financial Advisors" 2024
Published on March 8, 2024. Rankings based on data as of September 30, 2023.*

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Management Teams” 2024
Published on January 12, 2024. Rankings based on data as of March 31, 2023.*

Forbes "Best-in-State Wealth Advisors" 2023
Published on April 4, 2023. Rankings based on data as of June 30, 2022.

Barron's "Top 1,200 Financial Advisors: State-By-State" 2023
Published on March 10, 2023. Rankings based on data as of September 30, 2022.

Strategies designed to help you achieve your goals

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, families spanning multiple generations, business owners and executives. Using a goals-based wealth management approach, we put our clients at the center of every personalized strategy.

Our Approach

The Van Wagoner Group

A good team can add to your life in immeasurable ways. At The Van Wagoner Group, we strive to be that team.

As a member of Merrill Private Wealth Management, we are privileged to advise a highly accomplished clientele. Our clients typically have achieved success through their hard work and ingenuity. They look to us to help them steward that wealth, accompanying them on a path that reflects their unique characteristics and aspirations.

We work with a limited number of clients by design. The one-on-one attention we provide is difficult to mass produce. We prefer to be “all things” to a limited number of client families, walking with them through significant decision points in their lives and legacies and helping them pursue the positive outcomes of wealth.

Clients have entrusted us with over $1.3 billion of individual, family group, and corporate assets held with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, as of October 2023. We are serious about our work, rewarding that trust by maintaining the highest standards. By striving to do right by the clients we serve, we have created a special kind of culture, one that combines technical precision and hands-on knowledge with heartfelt service.

We invite you to learn more about our team and the ways we can help you simplify the complexities that significant wealth can pose.

Designed to be Different

Our team founder, John Van Wagoner, has worked at Merrill since 1986. John’s tenure and continuity speak to his principles. He set out with a vision in mind: to be the preeminent provider of wealth management strategies in the West, serving clients with the integrity and diligence that demonstrate their value and importance.

To that end, John built our team carefully and methodically, assembling the tight-knit group of professionals that we are today. Eight members strong, we work in concert to enhance the well-being of the clients we serve, financially, but also emotionally, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We care deeply about the whole person, an approach that manifests in the time we invest in each relationship.

We believe there are a few aspects of our team that are distinctive:

·         Our experience is counted in decades, more than years. We’ve seen a lot, done a lot, and helped clients achieve a lot.

·         We’ve put significant time and study into our craft and hold a number of esteemed industry designations:

­   CFA®: Chartered Financial Analyst® designation


­   CIMA®: Certified Investment Management Analyst designation

­   CAIA®: Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst designation

·         Our service model looks to preempt issues before they occur, smoothing clients’ path before challenges arise.

·         We diagnose before we prescribe. Listening is very important to our process. We want to make sure we have a keen understanding of where clients are and where they want to be.

·         We appreciate what clients have done and what they want to do. We help them look ahead, charting a singular path that accounts for their unique circumstances, family dynamics, and intentions.



CFA® and Chartered Financial Analyst® are registered trademarks of the CFA Institute.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in the U.S.
*Investments & Wealth Institute™ (The Institute) is the owner of the certification marks CIMA® and Certified Investment Management Analyst®. Use of CIMA® or Certified Investment Management Analyst® signifies that the user has successfully completed The Institute’s initial and ongoing credentialing requirements for investment management professionals.
 CAIA® is a registered service mark of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association.

Access Backed by Experience

We are fortunate to provide clients with access to meaningful opportunities within Merrill Private Wealth Management, drawing on the deep relationships we have fostered over time. Beyond mere access, of course, is the ability to align these resources with client needs, pinpointing the capabilities that make sense for their situations.

Clients look to us for a suite of family office like services, delivered in a manner that is intimately familiar with their priorities. Here are a few of the ways we facilitate a robust approach to multiple facets of significant wealth:

·         We maintain relationships with alternative investment strategists, researchers, and investment providers, expanding our universe of investment opportunities to include private equity, venture capital, and hedge funds.

·         We can connect clients to lending opportunities through Bank of America, helping them streamline their balance sheet. Our capabilities include business lending, residential lending for first or second homes, and customized credit for significant acquisitions, including air, marine, and art financing.

·         We help senior executives manage the intricacies of their compensation, including concentrated and restricted stock strategies, as well as executive trading plans.

·         We help business owners prepare for a possible sale or transfer of their entities, helping them weigh their options and address the issues that can optimize that transition for themselves, their employees, and their communities.

·         We support clients’ trust and estate planning initiatives, working in concert with their external tax and legal providers to integrate their legacy intentions within their overall wealth framework.

·         We know that significant wealth can impact families in unanticipated ways. Working with our colleagues at the Merrill Center for Family Wealth, we help clients instill strong stewardship in their children and grandchildren, through education, philanthropic planning, and access to family meetings, retreats, and next generation “boot camps.”



*Some or all alternative investment programs may not be in the best interest of certain investors. No assurance can be given that any alternative investment’s investment objectives will be achieved.
*Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.


We believe the best financial approach is the one that helps you pursue your goals. That's why, from the start, we talk about your aspirations and encourage you to ask questions about issues that matter most to you. Calculating how to manage future health care expenses? College on the horizon? Considering the sale of a business or purchase of a home? Preparing to pass your wealth to future generations? It all starts with a plan intended to help you manage, grow, and preserve your wealth today, while also considering the impact it can have for years to come. With access to the investment insights of Merrill and banking solutions from Bank of America, we will work with you to develop an approach designed to help address your financial needs.

Let's have a conversation

Your dedicated Merrill Private Wealth Management team is ready to help you pursue what’s most important to you.

Our Vision

For clients of substantial means, Merrill Private Wealth Management provides an experience that is both powerful and personal. We are dedicated to helping you pursue your goals for today while developing an approach designed to support your family members for the years to come.

Your private wealth advisor and team of specialists work with a limited number of clients, enabling them to focus their time, training and passion on helping you simplify your personal and business finances and prepare your next generation.

Boutique-like service with the access to the investment resources of Merrill and banking convenience of Bank of America

We combine the personalized attention and feel of a smaller firm with the power and insights of a global financial institution, creating financial strategies tailored to your unique situation.

A relentless commitment to transparency and customized strategies

As our client, know we are working in your best interests, providing goals-based financial strategies designed to anticipate and help meet your evolving financial needs.