Advisor Profile: Eric Grodan
November 17, 2021
Eric Grodan is a Senior Vice President, Senior Financial Advisor with Bank of America Merrill Lynch and a partner of the VCMPTG Group. Eric focuses on counseling high net worth families, business owners, and real estate developers through the complex process of estate and wealth transfer planning. With an extensive background as a transactional attorney, Eric advises clients in connection with business succession, pre-liquidity events, wealth transfer plans, and building legacies. Eric lives in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Lori, son and daughter.
Q: What led you to choose wealth management with a focus on charitable giving?
I began my legal career at the USC Shoah Foundation, formerly the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. While at the Shoah Foundation, I helped establish their planned giving program, which was what sparked my interest in charitable giving. The opportunity to work with Holocaust survivors, record their stories before they passed away, and help establish a planned giving program for the Foundation to honor their legacies was rewarding for me.
Soon thereafter, I became familiar with the California Community Foundation (CCF) and in 2002 I joined the organization as the Director of Gift Planning. In my role at CCF, I focused on helping donors plan for and implement their charitable goals.
About six years later, in 2008, I had the opportunity to expand my financial advisory services and join a firm advising clients as a wealth manager. In my current role at Merrill Lynch, I help individuals and families navigate their financial goals, which include, accumulating savings, growing wealth in a tax efficient manner, managing debt prudently, paying for their children’s education, planning for retirement, and considering the community in their overall financial plans.
Q: How is philanthropy incorporated in your firm’s work?
There are two main ways in which philanthropy is incorporated into my work. First, Bank of America Merrill Lynch is a large corporate grant maker. They regularly encourage associates to be involved in the community, whether it’s through volunteering or making donations to support nonprofit organizations. For example, I personally serve as the chair of the Nomination and Governance Committee for the Starlight Children’s Foundation.
Second, I’m blessed in that many of our clients have accumulated and grown their wealth beyond what they and their families may need or want, now and in the future. In discussing with our clients their goals and desires, I regularly present financial planning tools in which they can achieve their goals while giving back to the community.
Q: How has CCF helped your clients achieve their philanthropic goals?
Currently, I am working with a client who is selling their business for close to $1 billion. He was not familiar with the ways in which he can plan, before selling his business, to maximize the net post-tax proceeds to him. He was also not aware he could do such planning, while also benefiting the organizations and causes that are dear to his heart. By working with CCF, we were able to present the client with a few charitable planning options, and ultimately, he chose to establish a donor advised fund and a charitable remainder trust.
Q: Can you share a specific example of a time when CCF helped solve a problem?
We had a client taking his privately held business public. The challenge was that the owners were going to have to pay an enormous amount of capital gains tax. One way in which we were able to offset that tax liability was by working with CCF to help the client establish a donor advised fund using privately held stock in the company prior to the sale. Currently it’s one of the larger foundations in LA and is making grants to homelessness and other worthwhile charitable endeavors.
Q: How do you get involved to make a difference?
I regularly look for opportunities to volunteer and help organizations. For example, I have served on the board of Starlight Children’s Foundation for the past five years. I enjoy rolling up my sleeves and offering my skills and services to make a difference within my community. I also practice what I preach in our home – I’ve introduced our children to the importance of giving. Both my son and daughter have been meaningfully engaged in various charitable organizations like the Jewish Home for the Aging. My daughter is very involved in Camp JCA Shalom. My wife used to be an employee at Camp JCA Shalom and when the camp burned down during a wildfire three years ago, she continued to volunteer for the camp although they were no longer able to pay their staff. We all try to do as much as we can, whenever we can.
Q: What is your ideal vision for LA’s future?
As we move forward through the pandemic recovery, I hope we can find ways to address equity issues and repair the divisions that separate us as human beings. What I value about LA is its beautiful diversity and I would hope our leaders could continue to build on that ideal so we can work with one another beyond race, religion, and zip codes to strengthen our communities and arm them with the tools necessary for resilience. In this day in age, it is easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to start but starting where we live and doing what is within our reach can set us up for a brighter future.
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