Lee Ann Coburnage 36

Vice president, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40
40 Under 40

I am a Leader

40 Under 40
Leaders

I am a Trailblazer

Trail Blazers

I am an Entrepreneur

40 Under 40
Entrepreneurs

I am a Visionary

40 Under 40
Visionaries

I am an Idealist

40 Under 40
Idealists

Meet the Leaders

Whether in their own firms or in their communities, these young people are leading the charge toward innovation in financial planning, bringing new opportunities to advisers and clients alike. Here, they share the best leadership advice they’ve received in their careers.

Meet the Trailblazers

This group doesn’t subscribe to groupthink. They are spearheading new ways of practicing and delivering financial advice — in some cases reaching populations previously considered unprofitable to serve. We ask them about the most unique and unusual ideas they’ve had.

Meet the Entrepreneurs

In addition to helping clients reach their financial goals, some in the advice industry face the challenge of running a business or a team. Others have started companies to support this pursuit. These young people are flourishing amid the balancing act — and some got an early start.

Meet the Visionaries

It’s not about what is, but what will be — and what can be — the future of the financial planning industry for this group of forward-looking advisers, educators and executives. Their insights pull the rest of the profession into the next stratum.

Meet the Idealists

Life experiences shape our ideals, especially for these young professionals who see challenges in the advice industry and the world — and set out to meet them. They also have words of wisdom for the next generation.

About Lee Ann

In the teeming technology atmosphere of northern California, there is a premium on innovation and intellectual capital.

Lee Ann Coburn, vice president at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, also noticed there was a lack of organizations in the region to help women shape their careers.

She gave her Merrill Lynch female colleagues a platform for empowerment by establishing the Walnut Creek Women’s Exchange. It grew to 50 members and has since merged with a similar Merrill group in Oakland to form the 80-member San Francisco East Bay Women’s Exchange, one of about 50 such Merrill chapters nationwide.

The organization sponsors professional development, networking and social activities. It also has sponsored joint programs with some of the region’s most influential companies, including Cisco, Facebook, Genentech, Google and Oracle.

“I never had an opportunity before to be in a room with 45 women who are passionate and driven to make their companies better with a commitment to excellence,” Ms. Coburn said. “It was invigorating.”

The cross-pollination can help women at Merrill and tech firms bridge the confidence gap.

“Women oftentimes don’t speak up when they could or should,” Ms. Coburn said. “That affects their perceived performance and their ability to climb the corporate ladder.”

As she began her career, she drew on her experience as a member of the University of Pennsylvania lacrosse team. During practice, she would set out to hit 100 balls against a wall — but then blast a couple more. Going the extra step also helped in cold calling.

“It was always that bonus 101st or 102nd call that led to an exciting adventure or someone on the other end who needed my help,” she said.

– Mark Schoeff Jr.

Next Profile

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    Financial planning program director, William Paterson University

Fast Facts

  • Ran in the 2013 Boston Marathon, finishing shortly before bombs went off at the event
  • Was captain of her lacrosse team at the University of Pennsylvania
  • Her high school math thesis was entitled "How much do you need to retire?"