Carol Meyer

Merrill Lynch portfolio manager finds her niche serving LGBT community

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer

A program to help LGBT investors with tax minimization and other challenges faced by the community has led one investment firm to develop a variety of products for people who don’t fit into traditional roles, said Carol Meyer, first vice president and private investment portfolio manager at Merrill Lynch’s Galleria office.

Meyer said that includes products that address her needs as a single woman.

She said that eight years ago, the company invited her to participate as one of 18 members of their diversity council. Two members were openly gay.

“I didn’t know the issues faced by the gay community,” she said.

But she quickly immersed herself.

“I learned of the brutality and harassment they faced,” she said, and she learned that there were no workplace protections for LGBT people.

As she shifted her specialty to the LGBT community, Meyer’s manager asked her why she was doing this, since she already had a successful practice. But Meyer said serving the LGBT community was something she and her sister, a partner in her practice, were committed to do.

“Some estates are very complicated and more involved,” she said. “One client was 29, a doctor who became a new mom.”

Meyer said they devised a program that protected the doctor’s partner, who became the stay-at-home mom, and included coverage to put their son through college.

Meyer said that she employs the expertise of various divisions of the company. She has devised strategies for gay couples selling businesses whom she introduced to a business specialist.

U.S. Trust is now a part of the company. Meyer said that the trust specialists from that division can help manage anything from art collections to oil and gas royalties to real estate. She said she has seen experts from that field negotiate taxes and keep property leased.

Working with tax specialists or retirement specialists, she makes sure her LGBT clients find the investment that will benefit their situation.

“The rights are different from heterosexual couples,” Meyer said. “But there are a lot of things you can do.”

She suggested one strategy is to rollover investments from a 401K to an IRA. While an opposite-sex married couple can continue drawing from a 401K account after the death of one spouse, a same-sex couple has to treat the account as income.

An IRA would allow the surviving spouse to withdraw the money as needed, which for tax purposes is better than taking a lump sum. Meyer said that in an IRA, investors can better control their own investments.