A young and charismatic Charlie Merrill begins to
charm Wall Street.
Charlie Merrill and Eddie Lynch met each other at the
Twenty-third Street YMCA in New York City and within
a couple of years they both became millionaires.
My father, Winthrop (“Win”) Smith, joined Merrill
Lynch right out of college in 1916 and went to work for
fellow Amherst man Charlie Merrill as his office boy.
During the Great Depression, Charlie Merrill was
focused on creating a chain of Safeway stores,
revolutionizing the grocery industry. He later applied
the chain-store technique to the securities business.
Charlie Merrill and Win Smith finalizing the deal that
brought Wall Street to Main Street. Together they
forged one of the greatest partnerships in American
Win Smith and Bob Magowan in 1955 at the Merrill
Lynch “How to Invest Show” in Manhattan. Considered
the most ambitious attempt ever made to explain Wall
Street, the show included mechanized dioramas, lighted
tableaux, and a movie.
In 1958, the partners at Merrill Lynch voted to replace
“Beane” with “Smith” in the firm’s name. My father was
surprised and touched. Company signage throughout
the USA made the switch.
By 1980, an average of four thousand people entered
the Merrill Lynch information booth at Grand Central
Station every day. The booth was the inspiration of Lou
Engel who also wrote the classic book How to Buy Stocks.
Many believe that Dan Tully’s greatest achievement as
CEO of Merrill Lynch was to capsulize the core values
into five elements known as “The Principles.” These
words were etched outside company headquarters and
displayed in offices worldwide in their local languages.
The only portraits that hung in the boardroom at
Merrill Lynch were those of Charlie Merrill and
Win Smith. After a meeting there one day, this photo
was taken of me beside my dad. After Bank of America
purchased Merrill Lynch, the retired chairmen’s
portraits were deemed to be of “no value” and were
returned to their families.
John Thain invited me to the podium at the final
Merrill Lynch shareholders meeting on December 5,
2008. Little did I know that day the impact my speech
would have on so many people throughout the world.
(Christopher Elston Photography)