After nearly four years at the company, Kenneth Correa became the head of business and client development at Merrill Lynch in May 2023. That promotion and his decades of leadership at other companies has fueled Correa to put young professionals in positions to succeed as leaders too. To elevate younger people from diverse backgrounds, he leans on the contacts he’s developed over the years and shares insights from his own journey to the top.
He shared some of those insights with The Alumni Society, expanding on his passion for getting young people a seat at the table by investing in them like his mentors have.
What do you do today?
I’m a managing director at Merrill Lynch and serve as the Head of Business and Client Development. In this role, I lead the company’s business development and client growth strategy, while overseeing the enterprise lead generation strategy, execution of digital leads, executive wealth services, cross line of business efforts, and its national strategic growth markets strategy. I partner with Merrill’s and Bank of America’s products and services leadership teams, including field specialists, to drive seamless integration and field adoption across the company.
I also lead Financial Advisor Recruiting, Top Advisor Recognition Programs, the National Resident Director Strategy, and is the executive sponsor for the Advisor Growth Network (AGN), the financial advisor and resident director advisory councils to management, the Market Executive Strategy Council (MESC), and Merrill’s Diversity & Inclusion Council. He is also the chair of Merrill’s Hispanic Latino Advisory Council and sits on Bank of America’s Hispanic Latino Executive Council.
What was your biggest professional accomplishment over the past year?
Being named the head of Business & Client Development for Merrill, the wealth management arm of Bank of America.
How has your identity and your connection to your culture evolved as your career has progressed?
As I have aged, and with more time in the corporate seat, I find myself with a greater level of responsibility to speak up about our culture and our Hispanic/Latino (HL) population. Not only to raise awareness to the corporate world of the business opportunity that exists, but to also have our young HL people see that there too is a seat for them at the table in corporate America.
What community involvement is important for you outside of your role? How have you seen your own community change during your career?
The most important role to me is giving back to our young people—regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender—by mentoring and/or sharing how they can be successful in life. And inside my company and my industry, I try to make it easier for them to succeed professionally by leveraging my network.
The theme of this year’s Leadership Summit is Conexión: a reminder of the cultural connection that bonds Latinos and a call to embrace the exponential power we wield when we move as one. What does conexión mean to you and how has it helped you in your life and career?
Similar to my role, conexión is giving back to our young people, by mentoring and/or sharing how they can be successful in life. And inside my company and my industry, I try to make it easier for them to succeed professionally by offering guidance and mentorship.
This is the first generation of Latinos who have the potential to see people that look like them in virtually every kind of role and leadership position. Many of us, and those who came before us, had to make our own way and find mentors who may not have shared our experiences. What does mentorship mean to you and how are you passing your own experiences forward?
I am where I am today, because I had mentors and sponsors who took an interest in me because of my hard work. It is my responsibility to pay it forward and I do by doing what I mentioned in the previous question about community.