John Thiel is a visionary leader with over three decades of wealth management experience. He retired as Vice Chairman of Global Wealth Management at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, where he advised the bank’s Vice Chairman and Head of Global Wealth and Investment Management and leadership teams on business integration, goals‐based wealth management, and regulatory matters. During his years at Merrill Lynch, John led the Wealth Management group, overseeing a $15 billion business with 23,000 employees, including 15,000 financial advisors who assisted general investors and private banking clients. As Head of the Private Banking and Investment Group, he was responsible for more than 350 financial advisors and grew revenue from $500 million to $1.1 billion.
John accelerated change at Merrill Lynch, promoting the company’s shift into Goal‐Based Wealth Management. He envisioned a better way to serve clients than a simple focus on ROI. He advocated for the goal‐based approach: discussing real goals with clients, such as educating children, caring for aging parents, financing homes, etc. He led the firm in elevating the client relationship, connecting people to investments tailored to their goals, removing complexity, constantly adjusting and adapting. This gave Merrill a great competitive advantage in a commoditized industry. John often spoke at industry conferences, sharing insights on changing financial needs in the shifting environment.
John applied his trademark caring to his colleagues—and their total health. As he advanced in leadership, John cultivated a culture, moving financial managers away from pure metrics and to a culture where advisors are more authentic and even vulnerable, candidly acknowledging that the best‐planned portfolios can’t always win, and thus creating a powerful relationship of trust with clients. He also encouraged wellness programs throughout the organization recognizing that advisors who take care of themselves will have the stamina to best serve their clients and be present for relationships at work and at home.
John’s professional path has been dynamic and purposeful. He began as a CPA for KPMG and transitioned from accounting to insurance. Once hired by an insurance agency—in sales—he adopted Dale Carnegie human relations principles, and became a Dale Carnegie instructor, forming the foundation for his work and life. Joining Merrill Lynch in 1989 as a Financial Advisor, John advanced through several regional directorships in the Midwest and Pacific West, and in the latter he built revenue from $25 million to $100 million.
For his next season, John seeks board membership or directorship of a public company. His experience
includes Board member of Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith; Board of Governors of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA); Board Trustee and Chair Emeritus of the Florida State University Foundation (his alma mater: BA Accounting); and Board Chairman of the Manhattan Financial Services Cares Gala for the American Cancer Society. John is an advocate of cancer research and grew this important annual fundraiser from $0.5 million to $2.5 million in seven years.