Seeing Through Troubled Times

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The following is a message from Bob McCann, Vice Chairman and President of Global Wealth Management, on the global financial crisis and how to prepare for the road ahead.

As volatility continues to buffet the financial markets, I wanted to reach out to you to share a few thoughts about the current environment and what we at Merrill Lynch can do to help you and your family prepare for the road ahead.

During my 25 years in financial services, I have experienced my share of bull markets and bear markets, and a few recessions as well. Still, I have never seen markets under as much stress as today.

Investing in such an uncertain environment is a very personal decision, and at Merrill Lynch we understand that. Yet despite current challenges, we should not let fear or emotions drive our investment decisions. Troubling as the markets appear to be at present, this is in fact a good time to step back and put events in a broader perspective. Volatility is always unsettling. However, it is our view that clients and investors can and should be searching in the market’s current chaos for new opportunities.

Over the last 50 years, every period of financial market volatility has provided a signal that leadership and growth stories within the financial markets are changing. In my discussions with our research analysts and strategists, they indicate that investors should not expect the credit-driven stories of the past five to 10 years, such as emerging economies, to resume their leadership. They believe the new leaders are likely to come from defensive, relatively cash-flow-stable sectors, as well as developed markets.

The U.S. government is also taking exceptional measures to address the problems and restore confidence in global financial institutions. All of these efforts will take some time to have the desired effect as market volatility and the threat of recession remain. Yet financial history has demonstrated that investors who see opportunity in volatility are likeliest to prosper over the long term.

Today, I encourage you to reach out to your financial advisor to share your thoughts and long-term investment objectives. At Merrill Lynch, we are committed to helping you navigate this period of uncertainty and, we believe, long-term growth opportunity.

(A Merrill Lynch Senior Financial Advisor. She can be reached at 410-213-8520.)

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