This is the fourth in our series of profiles of the 2014 Chamber of Commerce Award winners. The awards will be presented at a dinner at the Clarion Hotel on Saturday.
The Batavia office of Merrill Lynch isn’t your typical financial services firm. Sure, it has a passion for helping clients with their financial matters — a passion that makes it one of Merrill Lynch’s top-ranked offices. But it also has a passion for good corporate citizenship. It’s this passion for giving back — and in a big way — that makes it standout.
Merrill Lynch was named the 2014 Innovative Community Contribution of the Year Award by the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, the key reason being that employees invest thousands of volunteer hours annually assisting local nonprofits and community groups. The employees freely give both their time and their financial expertise. Organizations like the Genesee Healthcare Foundation, the Batavia Area Jaycees, and the Salvation Army have all benefited from Merrill Lynch’s help.
Supporting the GLOW YMCA
Merrill Lynch’s relationship with the GLOW YMCA -- a nonprofit group in a four-county region comprised of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans, and Wyoming counties -- is a fine example of how the Batavia office makes a difference in the community. Each year the local office supports the Y’s Camp Hough by sponsoring an annual golf tournament at the Silver Lake Country Club in Wyoming County. The 18-hole tournament kick-starts the sponsorship campaign to benefit the resident camp for kids in the GLOW Region. Last year’s tournament drew more than 90 golfers.
In 2013 the Batavia office organized and helped launch the first GLOW Corporate Cup 5K Race and AfterGLOW office party at Centennial Park in Batavia. Modeled after the Buffalo Corporate Challenge, the GLOW Corporate Cup encourages local businesses to form racing teams to compete in a fun atmosphere. The AfterGLOW party serves as a great networking event for local businesses.
A big hit with the community, the Corporate Cup is a great fundraiser for the Y. Last year the event had 24 teams and about 500 runners, which raised about $12,000 for its programs. This year’s race had more than 40 teams and about 800 runners, which generated upwards of $15,000 for the Y. In addition, 40-plus local businesses set up corporate tents -- a big jump from last year's 27 tents.
Filling a Void in Batavia
The Batavia office is one of four Merrill Lynch offices in Western New York. Housed in a first-class facility at 21 Masse Place, the office fills a void left by the departure of many competing financial services firms. Merrill Lynch, the wealth management division of Bank of America (BoA), saw an opportunity here. So it established the Batavia office in 2012, staffing it with financial people that had strong local ties to the community. Since then, the Batavia office has grown and prospered. It’s’ now among Merrill Lynch’s most productive locations.
The Batavia location offers in-depth financial expertise to meet its client’s diverse needs. It provides financial planning, commercial, retirement counseling, and wealth management services. Meanwhile, its team of financial consultants has over 200 years of combined experience working together in Western New York. They have clients in 36 states and seven countries. Each consultant has highly specialized financial skills.
“Our clients get the best of both worlds from us,” says Josh Dent, who manages the Batavia office and spearheads one of the office’s financial advisory teams. “Thanks to our heritage, we’re able to provide clients with the banking convenience afforded by BoA and the investment insights of Merrill Lynch — the world’s largest brokerage firm. Our passion at this office is helping clients identify, pursue, and realize financial and personal goals at every stage of their lives.”