The fascinating story behind the company that revolutionized the financial world Catching Lightning in a Bottle traces the complete history of Merrill Lynch and the company's substantial impact on the world of finance, from the birth of the once-mighty company to its inauspicious end. Throughout its ninety-four year history, Merrill Lynch revolutionized finance by bringing Wall Street to Main Street, operating under a series of guidelines known as the Principles. These values allowed the company to gain the trust of small investors by putting the clients' interests first, driving a business trajectory that expanded capital markets and fueled the growth of the American post-war economy. Written by the son of Merrill Lynch co-founder Winthrop H. Smith, this book describes the creation and evolution of the company from Charlie Merrill's one-man shop in 1914 to its acquisition by Bank of America in 2008.
Author Winthrop H. Smith Jr. spent twenty-eight years at the company his father co-founded, bringing a unique perspective to bear in telling the story of the company that democratized the stock market and eventually fell from its lofty perch.
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How Merrill Lynch Revolutionized the Financial World
In 1939 Charles E. Merrill and Winthrop H. Smith came up with a radical idea for investing: democratize the stock market and bring "Wall Street to Main Street." Together they created a company that would earn the trust of small investors by putting their clients' interest first. To achieve this, they set down a series of guidelines for employees that came to be known as the Principles.
While the rest of Wall Street scoffed, Merrill and Smith put their idea into action. Merrill Lynch expanded capital markets and fueled the growth of the American economy after World War II. In 1974 Winthrop H. Smith Jr. came to work for the company that his late father had co-led for twenty-one years, starting in the "bullpen" as an entry-level investment banking associate. He rose steadily, working not only in investment banking but also in marketing, human resources, finance, and sales management.
But in 2001 Smith chose to end his successful Wall Street career in its twenty-eighth year for one simple, compelling reason. He believed that the new CEO, E. Stanley O'Neal, did not understand the Principles, nor did he appreciate the nurturing culture and values--known collectively as "Mother Merrill"--that had made the firm one of the most successful and respected companies in the world. Without these in place, Smith was sure the company would falter. He was right.
Catching Lightning in a Bottle--the first history of Merrill Lynch--traces its impact on the world of finance from the day Charlie Merrill opened his one-man shop on January 6, 1914, to the final shareholder meeting prior to its acquisition by Bank of America on December 5, 2008.
"Win Smith, son of a founder of Merrill Lynch, has written an accurate story of the rise and fall of America's preeminent brokerage firm. No novel could be as captivating, no characters as rich and fascinating as those who fill the pages of this remarkable book. Merrill, one of the few financial institutions with a soul, thrived and flourished because of strong and principled management. The firm's demise, according to Smith (who holds back nothing), resulted from flawed management. A great study of the dark side of economic Darwinism."
--ARTHUR LEVITT, Former Chairman, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
"Catching Lightning in a Bottle is a timely history combined with intrigue and passion. It provides an accurate view of how our firm, Merrill Lynch, grew to prominence through a total commitment to clients and how losing sight of these principles led to the wounding of one of the world???s greatest global franchises. This is a must-read for every executive in order to avoid these mistakes in the future. Now that our time-honored, principled approach to serving our customers has been restored, we are all thrilled to be part of BOA/MER."
--DANIEL P. TULLY, Chairman Emeritus, Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
"This is a powerful and important story of what made a great institution and what brought it down, including some untold intrigue about the final years of Merrill Lynch. It is written by a man who knew it well and stood by his Principles."
--JOSH WESTON, Honorary Chairman, Automatic Data Processing, Inc.
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Book Description Winthrop H. Smith Jr., 2013. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0989854302