A millionaire by the time he was thirty-one, Charles E. Merrill more than any other individual is responsible for the innovations and concepts that allowed the average American after World War II to participate in the stock market. He was also the first prominent Wall Streeter to predict the Great Crash of 1929. By February 1929, Merrill was so convinced the market top was near that he liquidated his firm's stock portfolio. He shared this conviction with his clients. His advice allowed many Merrill Lynch customers to escape the resulting Crash of 1929. His reentry into the brokerage business in 1940 after a decade away, predated the great bull market that started after World War II. The innovations he learned from a decade of operating Safeway stores throughout California transformed the brokerage industry from an exclusive club for wealthy individuals to one where Main Street could participate. No other individual did more to democratize the stock market for the small investor.
Farlin, John D.
"Charles E. Merrill: The Father of Main Street Brokerage,"
Journal of the North American Management Society: Vol. 3:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://thekeep.eiu.edu/jnams/vol3/iss1/2