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The Ward Group

Private Wealth Advisors
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Our mission is to help our clients lead happier, healthier and more purposeful lives through sound financial decision making and open communication.

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.

Theresa B Ward

Theresa B Ward,

Managing Director

Private Wealth Manager

612.349.7846
Jack Ward

Jack Ward,

Vice President

Private Wealth Manager

612.349.7908
Meghan L Williams

Meghan L Williams

Private Wealth Associate

612.349.7904
Kathy L. Handel

Kathy L. Handel

Private Wealth Associate

612.349.7907

Additional Resources

Josh Warren

Josh Warren

Structured Credit Executive

Bank of America, N.A.

Joseph McCullough

Joseph McCullough

Trust Specialist

Bank of America, N.A.

Matthew Vandenack

Matthew Vandenack

Wealth Strategist

Merrill Lynch

Recognition

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

Theresa B Ward

Barron’s America’s Top 1,000 Financial Advisors:State-by-State 2020

Forbes’ “America’s Top Women Wealth Advisors” 2020

Forbes “Best-in-State Wealth Advisors”  2020

Jack Ward

Forbes "Best-in-State Next Generation Wealth Advisors" in 2019

Solutions 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

Our Philosophy

We believe your unique goals should be at the center of all of your financial decisions and form the foundation of your financial strategy. Because significant wealth requires customized goals-based financial strategies, we believe in building lasting relationships with a limited number of clients, taking the time to understand your most important priorities for today, tomorrow and your long-term future. Our philosophy celebrates collaboration. Working with a team of specialists, we draw on the resources and insights of a global financial institution to create strategies that reflect your aspirations for yourself and current and future generations of your family. Finally, we believe that while significant wealth brings complex challenges, our experience, passion and perspectives can help you simplify your life.

The Ward Group

As a part of Merrill Private Wealth Management, our team is specifically equipped to help the firm's highest net worth clients navigate the complexities of significant wealth. Located in Minneapolis, MN and founded in 1983, we have client relationships dating back over 40 years with the firm. We are experienced working with technology and healthcare entrepreneurs and early stage employees across the country helping them navigate equity compensation, liquidity events, and concentrated positions. We intentionally work with a limited number of clients because our customized, high touch strategies require lasting relationships. Currently we work with about 50 clients that, in addition to entrepreneurs and early stage employees, includes c-suite executives, multi-generational families, family offices, private equity principals and a variety of institutions that trust us with their financial wellbeing. We are one of less than 100 teams at the firm internally designated as Global Institutional Consultants (GIC) able to work with institutional clients with more than $50M in assets. 

Investments remain core to what we do, but our experiences with clients have led us to expand our focus to other equally important areas. Simplifying busy and complicated lives, planning for a life transition or liquidity event, facilitating family conversations about money, and helping to positively transition wealth and values across generations, to name a few. The investment landscape has also changed significantly since 1983. We emphasize risk-adjusted returns. For our clients, this means investment strategies that are designed to provide downside protection so we can weather the inevitable market storms and stay invested over a full market cycle. We also emphasize tax efficiency and are always aware and transparent regarding costs. We provide access to investments historically reserved for institutions, including private equity and alternatives, and have experience implementing socially and environmentally conscious portfolios.



*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.

*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.
 

A Commitment to Service

Merrill Private Wealth Management is committed to providing a select group of clients with highly personalized one-on-one service. When you work with us, our knowledgeable, rigorously trained private wealth advisors will gain a deep understanding of your goals, help you develop a multigenerational wealth strategy, and help you update your approach as needed. We are committed to providing you access to the investment insights of Merrill and the banking convenience of Bank of America, and Merrill will continue to invest in client tools and new technology to enhance your overall experience as you and your private wealth advisor pursue what’s most important to you.

Company Founders, Private 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.

Technology Entrepreneur

As a technology entrepreneur, you focus relentlessly on what’s next. Yet as you look ahead to each new venture or cutting-edge innovation, it’s important to maintain the financial foundation that helps power your success and helps you take advantage of potential opportunities as they arise. We have experience helping entrepreneurs and business owners balance their personal lives with their life’s work. We understand the challenges you face every day, whether managing your newly achieved success or gaining access to the liquidity you need as seed capital or for personal expenses. We are dedicated in providing the experience and resources to help support your ongoing success.

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.

Intergenerational Family Wealth

As a family that spans multiple generations, you have needs that go beyond protecting and 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.

Private Equity and Hedge Fund Principals

Your investment expertise as a hedge fund or private equity principal has likely resulted in substantial personal success. We have experience working with a select group of individuals in your industry. Drawing on our extensive capabilities and the broad resources of a global institution, we work to help you coordinate and manage your finances with the aim of simplifying the complexities of your financial life, including wealth transfer advice and guidance from Merrill and access to the banking convenience of Bank of America for your banking, lending and trust needs. We also provide access to Bank of America for your working capital needs in support of the day-to-day needs of your business.

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.

LGBTQ

While the federal government’s landmark marriage ruling has eliminated many inequalities, same-sex couples and LGBT individuals still face financial challenges that require specific guidance and support — challenges that become more complex as income and wealth increase. Merrill Private Wealth Management has experience with and is sensitive to the unique needs of LGBT clients and their families. As you think about your present and future goals, such as financial guidance for a business you run or establishing a legacy for those you love, we can work with you to help you implement a goals-based approach designed to simplify your life.

Women

As a woman, you are well aware of how inaccurate stereotypes about gender and money can be. Beyond some specific challenges — for example, planning for the statistical probability of outliving a spouse — managing your finances means avoiding preconceived assumptions while gaining a full understanding of who you are as an investor and what you want to achieve for your career, your family and your legacy. Merrill Private Wealth Management works with a select group of wealthy individuals and families to help them pursue the goals that matter most to them. We strive to get to know our clients on a personal level so we can offer boutique-like services and the resources of a global firm to create financial strategies specifically for their life and needs.

Foundations and Endowments

An investment portfolio tailored to your needs is crucial to advancing your organization’s mission and carrying on its important work. We have extensive experience working with endowments and foundations and have a keen understanding of the requirements and responsibilities of board and committee members for investment management and financial oversight. The portfolios we construct are carefully designed to promote stability, efficiency and growth, and to perform effectively under a variety of market conditions. We also offer advice on board governance and reporting, and help in meeting regulatory and operating challenges. We provide access to the customized services your organization needs with discretion and skill.

Global Institutional Consultant

Through Bank of America Global Institutional Consulting, we offer a range of investment strategies to help manage the assets for nonprofit organizations, foundations, endowments, and corporate retirement and pension plans. The strategies and level of involvement depend on your needs and preferences, including traditional consulting, client-directed implementation or full, discretionary, Outsourced CIO services. Global Institutional Consultants work with your CFO, board of directors and investment committee to develop a tailored investment strategy that is consistent with your culture, goals, preferences and risk profile.

Bank of America is a marketing name used by several Bank of America Corporation (“BofA Corp.”) businesses, including, but not limited to, the Retirement Services business and Global Institutional Consulting, which offers products and services for the benefit of institutional and ultra-high net worth clients.

Global Institutional Consulting is part of the Global Wealth & Investment Management business of BofA Corp. Institutional Investments & Philanthropic Solutions (“II&PS”) is part of Bank of America Private Bank, a division of Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC, and a wholly owned subsidiary of BofA Corp. Trust and fiduciary services and other banking products are provided by wholly owned banking affiliates of BofA Corp., including Bank of America, N.A. Global Institutional Consultants mentioned herein are registered representatives with Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”) and may assist you with investment products and services. The nature and degree of advice and assistance provided, the fees charged, and clients’ rights and Merrill’s obligations will differ depending upon the products and services actually provided.

Banking activities may be performed by wholly owned banking affiliates of BofA Corp., including Bank of America, N.A., Member FDIC. Brokerage and investment advisory services are provided by wholly owned non-bank affiliates of BofA Corp., including Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated (also referred to as “MLPF&S” or “Merrill”), a registered broker-dealer and investment adviser and Member SIPC.

Investment products:
| Are Not FDIC Insured | Are Not Bank Guaranteed | May Lose Value |
MLPF&S makes available investment products sponsored, managed, distributed or provided by
companies that are affiliates of BofA Corp.

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.

The Ward Group

Private Wealth Advisors