John Thiel is a visionary financial services leader whose deep caring and understanding of people guided his 28 years at Merrill Lynch. He now leverages his drive to improve the well-being of others as a board member, a mentor, and a Senior Advisor at My Next Season, a growing firm supporting companies and individuals in matters of career and retirement transition. John has carried his people-centered philosophy with him from his successful corporate career into his mentoring and advising work. “There is no substitute for empathy for clients,” he notes. “I try to live by the Golden Rule and built my career on the belief that the client’s interest always comes first.”
Before joining My Next Season, John led the Wealth Management group at Merrill Lynch, overseeing a $15B business with 23,000 employees. He accelerated change throughout his career, most notably in leading the shift at Merrill Lynch from a primarily performance-based approach to one of goals-based wealth management, designed to help clients achieve their desired outcomes. He led the firm in elevating the client relationship, discussing real goals with clients, such as educating children, caring for aging parents, and financing homes, and connecting them to simplified, tailored investments that adjust and adapt to their needs. As a result, John drove dramatic growth during his tenures as Head of Wealth Management and Head of Private Banking, including a 55% revenue increase during the 6 years that spanned the financial crisis.
A lifelong learner, John’s professional path was dynamic and purposeful. He began as a CPA and transitioned from accounting to insurance. Initially hired in sales, he was led to Dale Carnegie human relations principles, where he gained an understanding of and passion for leadership and helping others. He then became a teacher for Dale Carnegie, which formed the foundation for his work and life.
A dynamic and motivational leader, John consistently applies his trademark caring nature to his colleagues and their total health. As he advanced in leadership ranks at Merrill, he moved financial managers away from a solely metrics-driven approach and cultivated a culture where advisors could be more authentic and even vulnerable with clients, creating a powerful relationship of trust. Out of concern for his colleagues’ stressful jobs, he encouraged his leadership team to offer wellness programs, bringing in speakers on mindfulness, nutrition, exercise, and personal energy management. John also established a long-term commitment within the company of giving back, supporting hands-on service opportunities that created lasting connections between employees and communities.
John has a long legacy of engagement and purposeful impact. A longtime advocate for curing cancer, he serves on the board of the V Foundation for Cancer Research, where he chairs the Robin Roberts Survivorship Fund event in New York. As a member of the FINRA Investor Education Foundation board, he cultivates relationships and promotes initiatives focused on improving the financial literacy of underserved populations. John is also a Trustee of the Florida State University Foundation and is making a significant impact as a mentor for not-for-profit CEOs in developing strategy and proactively responding to change.
In addition to his roles as Advisor, mentor, and board member, John is a frequent speaker, sharing insights on leadership, creating client trust, and responding to changing financial needs in a shifting environment. He has presented at a variety of venues, including the Tiburon CEO Summit and Barron’s Top Advisor Summit, made multiple appearances on FOX Business Network and CNBC, and was the commencement speaker at Florida State University in 2014.