Michael  J.  Hart
Michael J. Hart34

First vice president and resident director,
Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Fast Facts

  • With three children under six, his favorite hobby is "resting."
  • Wishes he could have lunch with Berkshire Hathaway's Charlie Munger.
  • Got his first job through an aunt's college roommate.

His father, uncle and cousins all have worked at Merrill Lynch for years, but when Michael Hart graduated from the University of Florida in 2006, he didn't join the Thundering Herd.

"My father, who's been with the firm for 34 years, wouldn't hire me," Mr. Hart recalls, "because he said I didn't know anything that could help him."

Instead, he got a salaried job in the Tampa customer service center of T. Rowe Price, where he counseled people as they went through the 2008 financial crisis.

"It sent shockwaves through me, and it was something that an MBA or a certification doesn't teach you," Mr. Hart said, despite himself having an advanced business degree, being a certified financial planner and working towards a chartered financial analyst.

Following in his family's footsteps, he joined Merrill Lynch in 2011, going through what he calls the "humbling experience" of being a rookie. The following year, his father asked him to join his team and go through its book with a fresh set of eyes.

His work resulted in a focus on helping the adult children of many of his father's clients, which, combined with his efforts to streamline the team's processes and increase its efficiency, produced gains of more than 120% in key areas. It also led to Merrill Lynch senior management becoming aware of his talents and asking him to serve on its millennial advisory board.

Evan Cooper

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