From Accounting to Wall Street to Philanthropy: An Interview with Richard Hogan

Screenshot 2023 05 03 at 11.03.49 AM

Former Private Wealth Advisor at Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

After retiring from the financial services industry, Richard Hogan has redirected his focus toward philanthropic efforts. Previously working at Merrill Lynch until his retirement in 2019, he now dedicates his time and skills towards promoting clean energy education and extending resources to underprivileged communities in both Maine and California. Hogan hails from Boston and helped lead the University of Southern Maine’s basketball team to the NAIA national tournament. He remains an ardent supporter of the Patriots, Celtics, and Red Sox.

Tell us how you got into the business of wealth management.

My college roommate who was the captain of the basketball team at Maine convinced me to quit the team, change my major to accounting and plan to get an MBA in finance and economics and get a job on Wall Street. To which I asked, “Where’s Wall Street?”

At first, I was skeptical. I didn’t know anything about accounting, finance, or economics, let alone  what Wall Street even was. But my roommate was persistent, and he explained the potential career opportunities and rewards that awaited me in the world of finance. His persuasive arguments fueled my desire for a challenging and lucrative career and eventually convinced me to make the switch.

So I changed my major to accounting and set my sights on pursuing an MBA in finance and economics. It was a daunting challenge, and there were many times when I questioned if I could make it. However, with the support of my roommate and other mentors along the way, I was able to stay focused and work hard to achieve my goals.

Eventually, I landed a job at Merrill Lynch, where I spent many years honing my skills as a financial advisor and wealth manager.  I’m grateful for the experience and the opportunities that it afforded me. It’s a reminder that sometimes it’s the turns in the road that can lead us to great success and fulfillment.

Where did your passion for finance come from?

As I shared with you earlier I was made aware of it by a friend and mentor.  I didn’t know anything about it at the time, but the more I learned the more I became interested in investing and Finance.

In addition, scarcity is a great motivator. My mother was disabled when I was in high school so my Dad and I looked after her. Then as if fate wasn’t finished with us,  my Dad died when I was in college so I left Maine and returned home to take care of my mom. I finished my degree at Suffolk Community College in Boston. We weren’t exactly flush, but with the help of public assistance we got by. Over the next two years, I got my college degree, went to work for a CPA firm, passed the CPA exam, took my GMAT’s, and got accepted into a couple of top ten business schools.  Don’t ask me why.  I must have looked like a real long shot, and hopefully it paid off.  My wife Kris and I have been reliable supporters ever since.

 I didn’t realize the stress I was under at the time, but looking back on it now I can see it  wasn’t normal for a perfectly healthy 22-year-old to have bleeding gums, chronic back pain, and GI problems. Finding meditation and yoga, through a neighbor, who I was pretty sure had lost his marbles, was a game changer for me.

What inspired you to accept a position at Merrill Lynch?

Many of the neighborhoods in Boston when I was growing up were lacking in job prospects and role models, but rich in their love of sports,  family and the occasional street fight.  Coming out of the MBA programs the Wall Street recruiters pitched us the idea that working on a trading floor was like the combination of a locker room, and a street fight , where you were constantly being challenged to learn and if  you hustled you could make a great living, I had an epiphany that my entire life had been preparing me for this career. So when 12 years into my career, “Mother Merrill” opened her arms to our team, it just felt right.

What inspired you to do what it took to make it all the way to Wall Street from where you started?

For two summers, I worked in the youth economic development program offered by the state of Massachusetts, collecting trash on the trucks. It was grueling, dirty, and often hazardous work, involving hanging off the back of a truck on a pothole ridden freeway.  Some of the things I witnessed during those summers were difficult to forget. At the beginning of my first summer, the yard manager tossed me a pair of gloves and exclaimed, “You’ll get $100 per week in cash, plus all you can eat!”.  That was as much motivation as anyone should need.

It was a moment that stuck with me forever and reinforced my belief in the value of hard work and perseverance.

What led to your success as a private wealth advisor?

I started out of college working in public accounting eventually becoming a CPA. My MBA in finance and economics helped cap off a broad-based business education. Getting my first job on wall street in the Bond business gave me a great introduction and in-depth education in the bond market. After working in Bonds for several years I worked in equities, derivatives, and research so twelve years into my career I was well-versed in most Investment product areas and taxes as well. When I moved to the private client business at Goldman, I hit the ground running. Not only did I have a good education, but I had also been actively investing for myself. It makes sense that a good investment advisor would “eat their own cooking” and align their interests with the client’s.

What is something you recommend to other wealth advisors?

Being a good investment advisor requires staying up to date on a lot of different subjects.  It is a job that starts when you wake up and doesn’t end until you go to bed. To help deal with the stresses associated with the job.  Here’s what I think matters:

  1. Take good care of yourself and your family.
  2. Always be honest and transparent.
  3. Care about your clients like they are your family.

Tell us about your next endeavor.

My college roommate and I are working on developing an affordable green community in Portland, Maine where we went to school. We are hoping to build small homes and ADUs for essential community members. The residents would share a community garden, solar power, geothermal heating and cooling, and it is all adjacent to 150+ acres of preserved green space with trails, ponds, and woods. The target residents would be doctors, nurses, teachers, firemen, and other essential service providers.

Finally, what is an accomplishment that you are most proud of?

 When I was younger, and full of ego I would have said going from food stamps to someone managing money for the richest man and woman in the world.

With a little age and perspective, I now see it is much more nuanced than that. Now I’d say it was choosing the right person to marry (boy did I get lucky on that), staying grounded, raising happy children, and giving back to society.  A wise man once said, “The greatest legacy a husband and wife can leave is their children”. Being blessed with three adult children who are educated, happily employed, philanthropic, and surrounded with good friends is all a parent can hope for.

Advertising disclosure: We may receive compensation for some of the links in our stories. Thank you for supporting LA Weekly and our advertisers.