Lack of mentors didn’t stop Merrill Lynch pioneer

A REAL ASSET: Edythe M. De Marco, Merrill Lynch first vice president of investments and wealth-management adviser, manages $270 million in assets. /
A REAL ASSET: Edythe M. De Marco, Merrill Lynch first vice president of investments and wealth-management adviser, manages $270 million in assets. /

Edythe M. De Marco has spent nearly 30 years scaling the corporate ladder at Merrill Lynch and earning accolades in the financial-services industry along the way.
So one might assume she’s had mentors lending helpful advice – people who have guided her up some of the more trying rungs.
But that really hasn’t been the case.
“From the time I entered my work life until now, there really hasn’t been a lot of mentoring,” said De Marco. “But as a woman, I don’t think I’m alone in that. Many women of my age, I think we kind of crawled up by ourselves.”
However she has done it, De Marco has made her mark.
De Marco is a first vice president of investments and wealth-management adviser in Merrill Lynch’s Providence office. Also on her resume: certified financial planner who oversees the De Marco Group, a four-member, asset-management team within Merrill.
And in 2009 and 2010, De Marco was named by Barron’s as one of the top financial advisers in Rhode Island. Her group manages more than $270 million in assets, and the numbers are growing.
And all this while the financial markets are still unsettled after their most topsy-turvy time period in recent memory, and Merrill Lynch and its owner, Bank of America Corp., have been at the center of the storm.
“I don’t have any God-given, natural talent to do anything and pick it up quickly and excel,” De Marco said recently. “But I’m one of those people who work pretty hard. I’m what they call an extreme worker.”
She credits her success through the dark days of 2008 and 2009 to her attitude and that of her team: Running an investment group in Rhode Island was not exactly where she envisioned her future when De Marco entered college in Southern California in the late 1970s, planning on law school.
An economics professor took her aside one day and warned her about going to law school. “‘Lawyers need to love to read, and you don’t like to read enough,’ ” De Marco remembered the professor telling her. “And he was right.”
Fresh from school with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and finance, she headed east to Rhode Island in 1981, where her mother had moved.
After in-depth research on Merrill Lynch for her thesis, De Marco was eager to find a spot at the mammoth investment firm. At first, she interviewed at the firm’s Boston office but was offered a secretarial-administrative position. She turned it down and headed to the Providence office, where she was hired as a client-services representative.
Those early years weren’t easy for the young woman, who had no experience and few female peers.
Nevertheless, the early experience as client-services representative has paid dividends ever since. “Doing a financial-needs analysis, that’s at the core of what we do,” De Marco said. “No relationship can start without it.”
De Marco dropped her nickname, Edye, at the office and went with the more mature-sounding Edythe. She felt comfortable only after she reached 40 to return to Edye.
After moving through the ranks at Merrill over the years, De Marco decided to switch from sole practitioner to running an investment group within Merrill. Most of the De Marco Group’s clients – made up of individuals, foundations and endowments – have assets ranging from $1 million to $35 million •

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