Merrill, Charles Edward

Merrill, Charles Edward,

1885–1956, American stockbroker and investment banker, founder of Merrill Lynch & Co., b. Green Cove Springs, Fla. Forced by financial hardship to leave college, he arrived in New York City in 1907 and began working for a brokerage house in 1909. In 1914 he established his own company, taking Edmund C. Lynch as his partner in 1915. During the 1920s he realized the potential for profitability in chainstores and underwrote Safeway, J. C. Penney, and other companies. Recognizing the signs of an impending stock crash in 1928, Merrill advised his clients to sell much of their holdings and liquidated his own firm's stocks. He concentrated on investment banking during the 1930s, but returned to stockbrokering in 1940 after a merger and prospered by emphasizing selling stocks and bonds to middle-class Americans. At the time of his death Merrill Lynch was America's largest brokerage.


See E. J. Perkins, Wall Street to Main Street (1999).

Merrill, Charles Edward

(1885–1956) stockbroker, investment banker; born in Green Cove Springs, Fla. Son of a physician, he spent two years at Amherst College, played professional baseball briefly, worked in several investment houses, and established his own firm in 1914. A year later he took in a partner, Edward Lynch. Retiring in 1930, he helped found the magazine, Family Circle. In the 1940s he returned to Wall Street to create what became the nation's largest brokerage, first known as Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Beane. The firm built a reputation for conservative investment advice to middle-income clients, an approach widely copied during the 1950s. He left some $25 million at his death to establish the charitable Merrill Trust.
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