Relationships matter to Merrill Lynch’s Denise DePriest

Carmen Musick • May 26, 2019 at 4:30 PM

Denise DePriest has worn a lot of hats in her lifetime. A wife and mother, a minister’s wife, and a passionate supporter of Mountain Mission School of Grundy, Boys and Girls Club, American Red Cross, Morrison School, Sustainable Agricultural Efforts and Holston Home for Children.

“Traditional definitions are somewhat obsolete. People have many hats, roles, interests and eclectic characteristics. I’d rather not be defined by a title, but a lifestyle, a value system and a code of ethics. Kindness is my currency,” DePriest explains.

DePriest’s love for people and her respect for their goals provide the bedrock for her vocational practice as vice president and senior financial advisor with Merrill Lynch Wealth Management in Kingsport.

“My years of listening to people – caring for them and extending gracious support during difficult times provides a powerful segue into the families I work with as an advisor. Most of the time, people want to be heard... witnessed... respected... and guided. I’ve kept the same mindset for my financial practice,” DePriest explained.

“All of the analytical and technical processes, while vitally important, don’t take the place of knowing my clients: their wishes, fears, attitudes about risk and most importantly their goals for their wealth,” she continued. “My clients’ aspirations are the plumb-line for the framework of our work together. When my clients win, I win. I am an advocate, a partner and a trusted friend for the families I serve.”

A series of experiences led DePriest to the financial sector.

In 2001, there was the elderly woman in line with her at a retail establishment who confided how scared she was to handle her financial affairs now that her husband had passed. Here was this smart, well-to-do lady completely rattled at the responsibility of managing her money matters. DePriest thought, “One day, I want to help people like this.”

Then, in 2004, her own stepfather passed away leaving her mom – an intelligent lady – to make her own financial decisions. Some well-meaning colleagues steered her to make some decisions a little too quickly. “While she is a smart lady, the loss of a loved one left her vulnerable. I felt frustrated that someone had not spent more time with her, coaching her and educating her on her options,” recalled DePriest, who has a commitment to supporting individuals through life’s transitions. Men and women, equally, appreciate partnership in navigating through difficulty and change.

Finally, in 2006, DePriest fell in love with economics during a class at Milligan. “That (interest) and the concept of wealth creation awakened something within me. New questions about wealth: how to grow it, why to grow it, and then what impact could we make with it? I grabbed hold of this with enthusiasm. What could I accomplish if I felt confident to manage my financial future?

“My net worth could impact my network. Instead of just supporting others, I could fund causes that would serve mankind. I became passionate about how I could partner with others for such an outcome. I set out on a mission to educate others to take responsibility for funding their dreams, visions and goals,” said DePriest, who believes “we are designed and ordered to be profitable stewards of our talent, our time and our treasure.”

Her goal now is to find a way to help others do the same.

“My clients are going places, building wealth and care about a world bigger than themselves. Some are business owners, with the responsibility to provide jobs and maintain profitability. Some want support in putting wealth into perspective so that they transfer the reason for the wealth and not just access to it. Regardless of the need, I consider it meaningful work to find smart solutions for my clients. I am the luckiest financial advisor I know. I work with friends and family. My clients become friends and I care about what THEY care about. I have the deepest of respect for them and am intensely loyal to their welfare,” DePriest shared.

Like all of us, they have concerns and worries.

“Perhaps it’s their children and how to transfer wealth. Or maybe it’s their business and employees or sometimes it’s their own fears and worries about aging, but for certain, they are thinkers, leaders, volunteers, business owners who care about more than just the dollar bill. Money represents their proclivity to make a difference in the ones they are responsible for and the causes they care about,” DePriest said.

DePriest is devoted to working with all clients, regardless of age or gender, but she finds herself especially concerned for women. A recent study revealed that women would rather discuss their own death than to delve into money matters with associates and friends.

“Money doesn’t need to be a scary topic,” DePriest says. “… I’m incredibly passionate about helping individuals take ownership of their financial future. Empowerment is paramount. Practicing good habits and managing our behavior is a key component to growing our wealth health; partnering with professionals who ‘get’ this is equally important.”

DePriest is vice president and senior financial advisor for Merrill Lynch Wealth Management, 7 Sheridan Square, Suite 110, in Kingsport. Email her at denise.depriest@ml.com or call (423) 782-2235.

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