By KATE GENO
When Kathi Hill started working in the financial services industry more than 25 years ago, there were many meetings where she was the only woman in the room. Today, female financial advisers are well-established.
“Women are an important part of the industry now,” said Hill, vice president and senior financial adviser at Merrill Lynch. “Women can contribute a different perspective to a team and help companies connect with a wider variety of clients to meet their needs.”
Hill enjoys being part of a team. Three years ago, she and her colleagues Woody Gray and Roy Gray formed a wealth management team at Merrill Lynch to advise a select number of high-net-worth families and business professionals.
Each of the partners works with approximately 100 clients, providing on-going financial planning and portfolio management. Hill’s relationships are primarily made up of single women, couples and small and medium-sized businesses. Her desire is to be a trusted advisor to her clients and help them meet their financial goals. She has advised some clients for over 20 years.
Her first position was with Reinholdt & Gardner and then she moved to the underwriting/syndicate department of Newhard Cook & Co. In 1990, Hill opened the first Illinois office for Boatmen’s Investment Services, later to become Banc of America Investment Services. She then transitioned to Merrill Lynch when it was purchased by Bank of America.
With the combination of Bank of America’s banking services and Merrill Lynch’s renowned research and technology, Hill said she can provide a comprehensive range of products and services to her clients. Her team offers financial strategies, risk management, asset allocation portfolios, career transition guidance and various types of financing.
Hill was inspired by her mother who worked as a civilian for the Army at the Granite City Army Depot.
“My mother worked for influential men and was well-respected. From a young age, I wanted to be just like her,” said Hill. “I didn’t set out to pave the way for other women; I was just a gal who liked working in financial services with co-workers who were always professional and very smart.”
Hill’s community involvement began many years ago and continues today at the Violence Prevention Center in Belleville. She helped with fund-raising and was a member of its board and finance committee. Hill also served on the finance committee for the Althoff Catholic High School Endowment Fund in Belleville.
Ten years ago, she was drawn to the Christian Activity Center in East St. Louis and served two terms as board chair. She saw a great need for the kids from the Samuel Gompers Projects and introduced the Center to friends. CAC’s budget has doubled since that time. Hill also mentored a young girl who is now entering college.
Hill is a life member of Leadership Illinois after joining the organization in 1996. She was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women in Illinois and helped create the publication, “Economic Independence for Women: An Action Plan for Illinois.”
Hill has been married to her husband, Bo, for 28 years and they have three grown children.