For almost three decades, Aubrey Lee, Jr., first vice president and wealth management advisor at Merrill Lynch, has used his abilities and skills to advise professionals, executives, and other clients in the areas of financial planning and wealth management. Under the Merrill Lynch umbrella, Lee has amassed a wealth management team called The Aubrey Lee, Jr. and Julius Readus Group.
The Farmington Hills-based team plans and tailors wealth management strategies and approaches to help clients identify and manage important life priorities, including how best to achieve selected goals. Such life priorities and goals, said Lee, could be retirement, a college education, extensive travels, taking care of a loved one, or other aspirational endeavors.
“We have the privilege of working with clients in their twenties, and also have the privilege of working with clients in their nineties, and all ages in between,” said Lee. “It’s all over the spectrum. We work with clients from all sorts of backgrounds. It doesn’t matter what one’s social or economic background is, we are able to work with and help everybody. Our goal is to help make clients’ financial dreams and aspirations a reality.”
While Lee believes starting early when planning for life’s goals is best, he equally believes that regardless of age, “start where you stand.” He said his team intently listens to all clients, and asks pertinent questions to offer the best wealth management strategies and plans possible.
“We’re especially sensitive to clients during difficult times,” said Lee. “Beyond being a client’s financial advisor, we strive to be their confidant.”
For Lee, exposing minorities to opportunities at Merrill Lynch is paramount. To assure that African Americans learn of wealth management careers at the company, Lee has served on the Diversity Advisory Council to Management at Merrill Lynch.
“As a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, who is an African American, I do want to make sure that African American men and women have an opportunity to have exposure to careers and opportunities at Merrill Lynch,” said Lee. “It’s something that we work very hard at as an organization. Merrill Lynch, as a part of Bank of America, feels very deeply about diversity and inclusion. It is a core component of everything that we do.”
As a youth growing up in metro Detroit, Lee saw the financial industry up close and personal through his father, who worked 42 years for National Bank of Detroit. Young Lee didn’t want to follow in his father’s banking footsteps.
“The last thing that I thought I would end up doing would be in banking,” said Lee with a laugh. “I actually had my sights set on a career as a radio disc jockey, and actually spent years on the air. What I learned was radio was a tough business, so I thought about doing some different.”
In 1980, Lee began working at Manufacturers Bank. After seven years, he stepped out on faith to join Merrill Lynch. Since joining Merrill Lynch almost 30 years ago, he has no regrets.
“I’ve had a great career at Merrill Lynch, and I’ve been blessed to really enjoy every moment of it,” said Lee, who along with wife Janice are the parents of four adult children, and grandparents of three. “The beauty of it all is that I get a chance to work with clients and help them with wealth management strategies and planning for their various life goals. On a regular base, we meet with them to make sure they’re on track to meet those goals.”
Over the years, Lee has received many awards and honors for his work in the community, including the YMCA’s Father/Son Footsteps Award, Detroit Urban League’s Community Service Award, and the Michigan Chronicle’s Man of Excellence honor. In 2010, Merrill Lynch honored Lee with its Leadership in Diversity and Inclusion (honorary mention) Award for his work on the company’s Diversity and Inclusion Council.
“I’ve had the opportunity to work with a lot of wonderful people and their families for a long time as it relates to wealth management here at Merrill Lynch,” said Lee. “Hopefully, I’ve had a positive and lasting impact on their lives.”