From IWU Magazine, Spring 2013 edition
Journey to Success
To help navigate her clients’ financial futures, Brandt relies on core values
Being listed among the Top 50 Wirehouse Women in 2013 in REP magazine’s February edition is just the latest recognition for Carol Brandt ’78.
For each of the past four years, she has also been named to Barron’s annual list of Top 100 Women Financial Advisors.
“It’s a huge honor,” Brandt says of being chosen again for the distinction by Barron’s financial magazine, which also lists her among the nation’s top 1,000 financial advisors
As a Senior Vice President and Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch in Chicago,
Brandt holds approximately $800 million in client assets.
“My job is a relationship business based on core values and trust, which were taught
to me by my parents when I was growing up,” says Brandt. “These core values were reinforced
during my time at Illinois Wesleyan.”
Brandt majored in music education at Wesleyan — a choice that has surprising applications
to her current job. “In college, I learned to listen for nuances in music — and I
have been able to apply that skill to my business, listening to nuances in what my
clients are saying. In my education classes, I learned teaching and mentoring skills
which I can bring to my clients as well as trainees within our organization.”
Brandt’s 26-year experience in the financial industry started not long after graduating
cum laude from IWU, when she accepted a banking position at LaSalle Bank Chicago.
She says that she was “very fortunate to be chosen for a training class when LaSalle
Bank started a bond department” before being transferred to the bank’s Wealth Management
While at LaSalle Bank, Brandt earned an M.B.A. in finance at DePaul University in
Chicago and also obtained her Certified Financial Planner designation.
At Merrill Lynch, one of the world’s top financial management and advisory companies,
Brandt works closely with a team of specialists to assist with accumulation, preservation
and transfer of clients’ wealth. Her expertise includes fixed-income investing and
“My goal is to provide peace of mind to my clients,” she says. “I take a conservative
approach to help them protect the assets they have accumulated. This often involves
investing a portion of the portfolio in high-grade bonds, which can provide income
and safety of principal.”
Students attend a Council for IWU Women summit.
Over the course of her career, Brandt has experienced 12 mergers. The mergers, she
says, “enabled me to help my clients navigate and adapt to a changing environment
— and to not let short-term events derail their long-term goals and dreams.” Such
experiences have also helped her learn to embrace change and the opportunities change
can create, she says.
A resident of Chicago’s Near North Side, where she lives with her husband Bill, Brandt
is active on the Lincoln Park Zoo Women’s Board. She also stayed in touch with her
musical roots as founder and director the LaSalle Bank’s employee choir, which performed
the national anthem at Cubs and White Sox games and has been featured on Chicago TV
For her alma mater, Brandt serves on the Chicago Alumni Committee and was keynote
speaker for the 2012 Council for IWU Women’s annual summit. She especially enjoys
meeting students, sharing whatever advice she can offer to make their post-college
“I am hopeful the life lessons I’ve learned can potentially serve as inspiration to
the current generation of IWU students,” says Brandt, “and make them aware of the
great possibilities open to them.”
To read Brandt's top 10 life lessons, click here.