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Journey to Success
Leading Financial Adviser Says UT Tyler Put Her on the Right Path

On her academic journey toward her dream career as a stockbroker, Nan Shertzer transferred from a women’s college in Virginia to a university in Central Texas and encountered a major roadblock.

With hundreds of students enrolled in each class, the university was substantially larger than her previous school, which had a total enrollment of about 250. Having lost nearly 75 percent of her hearing in a childhood bout with measles, she was unable to hear the teacher in the vast lecture halls.

“I couldn’t hear anything in those auditoriums, no matter how close to the front I sat,’’ Shertzer recalled of her sophomore year in the late 1970s. She finished the academic year with the help of classmates who shared their lecture notes with her. And then she transferred to what is now The University of Texas at Tyler.

Currently a senior vice president and wealth management adviser in her 28th year with Merrill Lynch and ranked by Barron’s, aDow Jones publication, as one of the top 100 women financial advisers in the nation, the Dallas resident says UT Tyler made all the difference for her.

The classrooms were smaller, so she was able to hear the lectures. And she was deeply inspired by what she heard.

Her favorite classes were those taught by Dr. Charles Murray Wade, former UT Tyler professor of finance, and Dr.Marilyn Young, UT Tyler professor of management.

“I graduated with a 4.0 in finance and I can thank Dr. Wade for that. He gave the best talks in the world and changed my life. I can still remember what he’d say to us in class,’’ said the December 1979 graduate with a bachelor of business administration degree in finance.

“That’s when I learned that the things you least expect to be wonderful can turn out to be the greatest, because I received, I think, the greatest education in the world,’’ added Shertzer, who was not sure what to expect when she enrolled at UT Tyler, which was then a university for juniors and seniors and relatively new.

Dr. Young said Shertzer was a serious and focused student who had a great sense of humor, was well liked by her peers and worked well on team projects.

“Nan was very enthusiastic and conscientious. I remember she was always early and sat on the front row. She knew early on as a finance major she would be a financial adviser,’’ the professor said.

After graduating from UT Tyler in 1979, Nan Shertzer became a stockbroker with Merrill Lynch in Dallas, where she now serves as a vice president. Pictured with her team, the Shertzer, Cecil & Blumoff Group, she is ranked among the top 100 women financial advisers in the nation.

Before entering UT Tyler, Shertzer spent the summer working for a brokerage firm in Tulsa, Okla., and became registered as a stockbroker.

“I remember a couple of times Nan asked me if she could use my office telephone – this, of course, was before cell phones,’’ Dr. Young said of Shertzer’s time at UT Tyler. “She went to the phone and started buying and selling stock even then. She was very professional, and I was impressed and thought then she would be successful.’’

Growing Up
It was Shertzer’s dream since childhood to become a stockbroker. One of five children born to Charles and Billie Shertzer, she grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., where her father worked as an independent oil producer.

“My dad always had a passion for stocks and commodities and matters such as that, and probably would have loved to have been a stockbroker. He must have instilled in me that passion for all things stocks and bonds and interest rates,’’ she said.

“When I was a child, he’d take me after dinner into his office, bring out that green graph paper and let me make the dots and connect the graph of different stocks in which he’d invested. And by the time I was 12, I was reading investment newsletters with him – Howard Ruff’s Ruff Times and Richard Russell’s Dow Theory. I just loved that business and decided that was what I wanted to do.’’

Her family was living in East Texas when her father suggested she transfer to UT Tyler. The Shertzers had moved to Kilgore in 1973 and founded Pak-Sher, the first high density plastic manufacturing plant in the United States. Her father conceived the idea after taking the family to South Africa in 1971 and noticing grocery and department stores were using plastic instead of paper shopping bags.

The company, which the Shertzers sold in 1976, continues to produce plastic packaging products for U.S. grocery chains and restaurants.

Getting Established
After completing her degree at UT Tyler, Shertzer joined the Dallas offices of Merrill Lynch and began the arduous task of building a client base.

“I do remember being scared out of my wits when I was hired at Merrill Lynch because I had to call people and try to get them to become my clients,’’ she said laughingly. “I thought I would just sit there and the phone would ring and all these people would be calling me to buy a thousand shares of this, that and the other.’’

Telephoning was not her only method for finding clients.

“Every Thursday night I’d drive to Kilgore and spend the night at my mom and dad’s house. I would get up on Friday morning and go around and knock on doors to get to know people and get them to open an account with me,’’ she said. “And all those people over in East Texas were so great to me. You can see their pictures,’’ she added, pointing to the many photographs displayed in her office of longtime clients and their children and grandchildren. She refers to them as her “extended family.’’

“I like keeping their pictures up because it reminds me of what I’m here for – to take care of them,’’ she said of her clients, adding that serving their best interests is a responsibility she takes very seriously. “My number one priority is to do a good job for them.’’

Top Honor
The senior vice president and her team, the Shertzer, Cecil & Blumoff Group, provide corporate and individual investors with comprehensive financial solutions in concentrated stock management, asset management, estate planning services and philanthropy.

Barron’s, a financial weekly, has honored Shertzer as one of the top 100 women financial advisers in the nation for demonstrating industry best practices. She has been named to the list every year since the ranking began in 2006.

Honorees are selected based on a host of quantitative and qualitative criteria, from assets and revenues managed to experience level, compliance records, client retention, customer satisfaction and interviews with senior management, peers and customers.

Those familiar with Shertzer’s work and her dedication to her clients are not surprised she is ranked among the best in her profession. “Nan understands all the facets of financial services and combines a great love and loyalty for people with an extraordinary work ethic and intelligence that is exceptional,’’ said Gene Vilfordi, who retired from Merrill Lynch in 2004 as a vice president after 51 years with the firm.

Shertzer and Vilfordi were co-workers in Dallas from the time she was hired in 1980 until his retirement. Shertzer considers him one of her mentors in the profession.

“We didn’t share the same accounts, but we shared a lot of the same problems and a lot of the same successes,’’ Vilfordi recalled. “We would talk over solutions to problems and even pray about situations that looked dire and difficult.’’

He added, “Nan is always probing and finding out the best things to do and the most intelligent ways to serve her clients. And she has gone from being a pupil, so to speak, to become the star of the class. She is one of the top producers at Merrill Lynch. Irrespective of whether it’s a man or woman, she is one of the top there is.’’

Shertzer and UT Tyler graduate Ronnie Spradlin, who owns East Texas Lumber in Kilgore, are former classmates who have remained the best of friends. They often seek each other’s advice on business matters.

“When we think something’s not right or there’s an unusual situation in which it is really hard to determine the right thing to do, we’ll call and bounce it off each other,’’ said Spradlin, who established a UT Tyler Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Shertzer’s name.

“Nan has a very high set of morals to which she holds herself. She always stands up for what’s right and her clients always come first,’’ Spradlin said. “The one thing I tell people about Nan is that she would never put their money anywhere she wouldn’t put her own mother’s money.’’

Both graduates are supporters of the university and have been honored as UT Tyler Distinguished Alumni. Shertzer also serves on the university’s School of Business Advisory Council, and her sister, Fritter McNally of Tyler, strongly supports the university.

Wife and Mom
Shertzer is happily married to John White, a Dallas printing company owner and former attorney. When she married, she gained a family of six children.

“My friends here at work say I’ve confounded the experts. No one thought I’d last six months and it’s been 22 years,’’ she said of her marriage.

“When I married John, he had six little kids, ages 9, 7, 5 and 3 and 1-year-old twins. I had never been married, had no experience taking care of children, had never even baby-sat. So no one thought I’d last, but I’ve lucked out. I love all my children very much and I think they love me back. And now I’m a grandmother of three,’’ said Shertzer, who has no birth children.

She did manage to get one of the six interested in all things financial. Tim White, one of the twins, joined her team as a financial adviser in 2007 after graduating from college.

“He’s always been the banker in the family, even when he was in grade school,’’ Shertzer said. “His older siblings would borrow money from him for a date or something like that. He’s a young broker trying to build a client base now, so we’ll see how it goes.’’

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