Meet the Team
Bridget Sullivan Mermel
NAPFA Registered Financial Advisor TM
Ever since I was growing up in Mequon, Wisconsin, I have been fascinated with money and how people earn it, invest it, and spend it. Nothing got my attention like the stock market contest my econ teacher ran.
When I went to college, I wanted to learn as much about money and business as I could, so I majored in accounting and marketing. I had to take a writing class; creative writing was supposed to be an “easy A, ” so I signed up. Unlike the other business majors in the class, I loved it. My avocation was born.
In 1997, I started a tax practice. At the same time, I was drawn to writing about personal finance and fascinated by how people handle their money. As my practice developed, I was increasingly turned off by the financial services industry, yet increasingly aware of the need that clients had for good personal financial advice. From my perspective as a CPA, much of the industry seemed to be geared toward working with the super-wealthy, selling products of questionable value, or promoting schemes that benefited the sales person more than the customer.
Then I found out about fee-only financial advising, particularly ACP (the Alliance of Comprehensive Planners.) Fee-only advisors are upfront about what clients are paying, so there are no hidden agendas. I felt an instant recognition of being among like-minded people. I’ve since joined ACP as well as NAPFA (the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, another fee-only group) and have developed my own fee-only financial advisory practice. I love it.
Degrees and Designations
BA in Accounting and Marketing from the University of Wisconsin, Madison
Masters in Liberal Arts from DePaul University in Chicago.
Certified Financial Planner ™
Certified Public Accountant
I worked at Peterson & Company supporting high-profile litigation, as a manager, then district manager at Starbucks during their start-up phase, and supporting derivatives trading at O'Connor & Associates.
I love tennis, music, and reading!
And...nerdy as this sounds, I enjoy getting the word out about fee-only financial planning to a broader audience. Check out my articles on Money.com or subscribe to the Youtube channel I started with John Scherer, Friends Talk Financial Planning.
Matthew Barnard CFP(R)
Associate Financial Planner
Matthew joined Sullivan Mermel in 2020. Matthew became a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in 2015.
Matthew first acquired an interest in comprehensive fee-only financial planning while in high school. His interest was cemented when he interned at a financial planning firm and tax practice in Urbana, while in college. He enjoys the puzzle-solving aspect of the work, as well as the satisfaction of seeing clients become more comfortable with their financial lives. Before joining Sullivan Mermel, Matthew developed his financial planning knowledge by first working for a multinational brokerage firm and 401(k) provider, and later in the home office of a regional insurance company.
Starting in 2019, Matthew began to volunteer for the CFP Board of Standards. He has created individual questions for the exam and has served as a subject matter expert while reviewing existing questions. He also serves as a mentor through the CFP Board for individuals that are in the process of fulfilling the requirements of the exam.
Matthew holds a bachelor’s degree in Consumer Economics with a focus in Financial Planning from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Matthew also holds a master’s degree in Personal Financial Planning from Texas Tech University.
Matthew and his wife, Deena, live in Norwood Park. They enjoy watching the Cubs, trying out new food venues, and exploring the city with their two dogs.
Luke Van de Loo
Luke hails from Eau Claire, Wisconsin and currently serves as the Office Manager at Sullivan Mermel. He provides leadership to the firm’s client service team and manages our technology systems.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Luke spent time learning the financial services industry at a Registered Investment Advisor firm located in Wisconsin. He then founded a technology company, which in turn led him to his current role at Sullivan Mermel.
At work, Luke champions our mission of connecting money and meaning to create fulfilling lives. He loves leveraging his strengths – building and equipping our team – each day and is deeply passionate about transforming the financial services industry into one that is completely trustworthy and client-centric.
Outside of work, Luke enjoys
spending time with his fiancé, Annika, and working on her business together. He also likes reading, running, and connecting with family and friends in the area.
Client Service Specialist
Kathy Watkins provides Paraplanner support to the Sullivan Mermel team, so she will work closely with you to gather the documents and coordinate preparation of the materials needed for your meetings. She is the go-to person for scheduling (and rescheduling) your appointments.
Kathy has spent over 20 years providing top-level administrative support to CEOs and business owners. She has completed the Registered Paraplanner program with the College for Financial Planning. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her three young grandsons, who are keeping her young (or aging her before her time).
Innovative Financial Planning
Connecting money and meaning to create fulfilling lives.
Learning, Growing & Improving
Pledge to Clients
As a ACP members, in our dealings with clients, we pledge to be:
Holistic in outlook.
We will consider everything we know about your relevant circumstances, family needs, goals, values, and aspirations when making comprehensive planning recommendations.
Professional in conduct.
We will strive to maintain the highest ethical standards possible in work and life. We will enhance our skills and credentials through ongoing continuing education, and will refer you to other professionals when you need help in an area outside our expertise.
Educational in nature.
We will guide you through your options and explain them clearly to help you make the best choices. We will always take the time to help you understand our advice.
Independent in compensation.
We will never sell you a product other than holistic financial planning, nor take a commission or a referral fee from another professional. You will receive objective, unbiased advice.
Committed to your success.
Holistic financial planning is a process, not an event, and we commit to adjusting your plan as your life goals and circumstances change.