Southeastern Wisconsin financial service industry news
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
Greek meltdown likely won’t hurt U.S. economy
June 30, 2015 10:36 AM
Greece’s expected default today on its International Monetary Fund loan payments and the resulting meltdown of its financial system and economy are dire, but they probably won’t have a huge negative impact on the U.S. economy, analysts say.

“Greece's ties to the U.S. economy are negligible; the country accounts for less than 0.1 percent of U.S. exports. Similarly, there is little exposure to Greece's financial woes: U.S. banks only have exposure to around $13 billion of Greek debt, just 0.4 percent of consolidated foreign claims. Therefore, assuming the problems are confined to Greece, the ongoing crisis will have a minimal impact on the U.S. economy,” said Kurt Rankin, economist at PNC Bank.

Despite its diminutive global economic impact, Greece is weighing on investors’ minds and has compounded with tame year-to-date equity returns and the looming Federal Reserve rate hike, said Rob Haworth, senior investment strategist for U.S. Bank Wealth Management.

There is concern Greece’s problems could spread to the rest of the Eurozone, and a potential dissolution of that partnership could couple with a European financial crisis to put a little pressure on the U.S. economy, Rankin said.

“U.S. financial markets are likely to remain volatile in the near term, with the S&P 500 down about 2 percent today,” he said. “But this needs to be placed in context; U.S. stock prices are up by more than 200 percent in the current cycle.”

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Artisan Partners adds Developing World Fund
June 30, 2015 10:39 AM
Milwaukee-based Artisan Partners has added another fund, the Artisan Developing World Fund.

The Developing World Fund is managed by Lewis Kaufman, who joined the firm in February to form the Artisan Partners Developing World Team. He has eight years of experience managing portfolios and 15 years of industry experience. He previously served as managing director and portfolio manager for Thornburg Investment Management, where he managed the Developing World Strategy since 2009.

Artisan Partners is a global investment management firm made up of autonomous investment teams that oversee a variety of investment strategies.

“We have been gradually evolving our investment strategies to reflect increasing degrees of investment freedom, which further allow our teams to manage investment risks and outcomes,” said Eric Colson, chief executive officer of Artisan Partners. “The Developing World Fund—a natural fit with this philosophy—is a high value-added strategy in an asset class that allows active managers to differentiate themselves. Lewis and his team have a unique approach to capitalizing on the tremendous growth opportunities in the developing world.”

“We believe compounded business value drives long-term capital appreciation, and seek to optimize our stock selection process for challenges unique to the developing world,” Kaufman said. “Our investment process emphasizes financially sound, free cash-flow generative companies with compelling business models, while seeking to mitigate the volatility of returns.”

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Wisconsin Energy completes acquisition of Integrys
June 30, 2015 10:45 AM
Milwaukee-based Wisconsin Energy Corp. Monday completed its $9.1 billion acquisition of Integrys Energy Group.

The company has received final written approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the Illinois Commerce Commission, the last pieces in the puzzle for the acquisition to close.  The deal needed the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, both companies’ shareholders, the Federal Communications Commission and utility oversight boards in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

Wisconsin Energy, parent company of We Energies, first announced last June that it planned to acquire Chicago-based Integrys, parent company of Green-Bay based Wisconsin Public Service Corp. The new company, WEC Energy Group, is the eighth largest natural gas distributor in the U.S. WEC will have its corporate headquarters in the “metropolitan Milwaukee area,” with operating headquarters in Green Bay and Chicago. It will serve 4.4 million electric and natural gas customers in Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

WEC Energy Group has almost $29 billion in assets, 9,300 employees and about 60,000 stockholders of record. Its principal utilities are We Energies, Wisconsin Public Service, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Michigan Gas Utilities and Minnesota Energy Resources. Its other major subsidiary, We Power, designs, builds and owns electric generating plants.

Gale Klappa will serve as chairman and chief executive officer of the new company. Allen Leverett will serve as president for Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota. Charles Matthews will serve as president for Illinois. Jerry Franke will serve as president of Wispark.

Wisconsin Energy also added three of Integrys’ board members to its nine-member board: Retired A.O. Smith CEO Paul Jones, William Brodsky and Albert Budney, Jr. Jones also serves as a co-chair of Milwaukee-based water research, education and economic development organization The Water Council.

"The new era that begins today has its roots in world-class customer service and exceptional shareholder value," Klappa said. "Our goal in combining these strong Midwestern companies is to build a leader in the energy industry that will thrive for decades to come."

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Knutson elected CFO of Twin Disc
June 30, 2015 11:01 AM
Racine-based Twin Disc Inc.’s board of directors has elected Jeffrey Knutson as chief financial officer and treasurer.

Knutson will take on the duties in addition to his current roles as vice president of finance and corporate controller and secretary. He has worked in a variety of leadership roles at Twin Disc since 2005. Before that, Knutson worked as a controller at Tower Automotive-Milwaukee division, and has also worked in financial positions at Invensys, Bucyrus International and PricewaterhouseCoopers. He holds a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and is a certified public accountant.

“Jeff has done a fantastic job since assuming the interim chief financial officer role in February,” said John Batten, president and chief executive officer. “Jeff's experience and contributions to Twin Disc since joining the company in 2005 make him uniquely qualified to step into the chief financial officer position. His strong global financial experience and deep understanding of our business and culture are valuable assets to Twin Disc. I look forward to continue working with Jeff and wish him much success in this new role.”

Twin Disc manufactures marine and heavy duty off-highway power transmission equipment.

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Behrens named CFO of Johnson Bank
June 30, 2015 10:55 AM
Mark Behrens has been named chief financial officer and executive vice president of Johnson Financial Group and Johnson Bank, effective July 1. Behrens succeeds Judy Sutfin, who left the company this month after four years as CFO.

Behrens, a CPA, has worked at Johnson Financial Group for 30 years, most recently as president of Johnson Insurance Services. He was previously in banking and corporate finance roles, and served as chief operating officer of Johnson Insurance. Behrens holds a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MBA from Marquette University.

“Mark has an intimate knowledge of our company, our culture and our people,” said Thomas Bolger, president and chief executive officer of Johnson Financial Group.  “He understands how far we have come, but as importantly, where we need to be positioned in the rapidly changing competitive environment of the future.”

As a result of the move, Michael Derdzinski has been named interim president of Johnson Insurance. The company has started the search for a new president. Derdzinski has led several areas of Johnson Insurance, most recently serving as senior vice president-director of Employee Benefits Group.

“Mike will provide a bridge of consistency and continuity for both our clients and our associates to help accomplish the transition without losing our momentum,” Bolger said.

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Associated Bank and Brewers to donate up to $100,000 to Housing Resources Inc.
June 30, 2015 10:53 AM
Associated Bank and the Brewers Community Foundation have announced they will donate $250 to Milwaukee-based nonprofit Housing Resources Inc. for every hit the Brewers get at home through the end of the season, up to $100,000.

The “Hits for Homes” program will provide funding for HRI’s mission, to support low- to moderate-income homeowners and home buyers in Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties. HRI provides affordable home repair grants to help homeowners who are in financial distress complete deferred property maintenance.
The hits and donations will be tracked on the Associated Bank Check Deck screen in Miller Park.

“Thanks to organizations like Associated Bank and Brewers Community Foundation, we are able to help many families. We are excited about and grateful for this partnership,” said Trena Bond, executive director of HRI.

"Brewers Community Foundation recognizes the critical need for affordable, safe housing. We are happy to partner with Associated Bank to positively impact children and their families," said Cecelia Gore, executive director of Brewers Community Foundation.

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Wangard Partners adds chief financial officer
June 30, 2015 10:50 AM
Milwaukee-based Wangard Partners, Inc. has introduced a chief financial officer to its staff.

The real estate company has appointed industry veteran Beth Schumacher to the newly created position.

Schumacher, a certified public accountant, has more than 30 years of experience in finance and accounting for property development and management. Her skillsets include board expertise in internal and external reporting, systems implementation, insurance, and cash and risk management.

As CFO at Wangard Partners, she will manage financial and operational practices for the firm’s divisions as well as head human resources, information technology and risk management. Schumacher will also work to create more efficiency and more effective accounting and reporting systems for the firm.

“As Wangard’s growth has doubled, so have our needs to be more lean and efficient,” Wayne Wiertzema, president of Wangard Partners, said in an announcement. “Beth’s depth of expertise within our industry will enhance our internal processes in order to provide the best service to our clients and many partners. Her talent will stimulate our core value of knowledge leadership through entrepreneurial spirit, which will lead to more development.”

Schumacher completed her Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of Toledo in Ohio.

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Money moves
June 30, 2015 10:41 AM

Jason Aexel has joined State Farm as an agent, and will open the Jason Aexel Agency at S76 W17603 Janesville Road in Muskego on July 1. Aexel has more than 20 years of experience in health care, leading teams in a variety of commercial functions, mostly working with companies that helped underserved patient populations.

David Muchow, CFP, has been named manager of investment advisory and principal at Aspiriant in Milwaukee. He is one of eight new principals the Los Angeles-based wealth management firm added nationwide this month. The firm now has 44 principals. Muchow holds a bachelor’s in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and an MBA with a specialization in finance from Marquette University. He has nine years of industry experience, joining Aspiriant in 2010 as a result of the acquisition of Deloitte Investment Advisors.

Schenck M&A Solutions has added Michael Schroeder as an M&A analyst at its Milwaukee office. He holds a bachelor’s in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and an MBA from Marquette University. Schroeder previously worked as a portfolio manager-vice president for Associated Bank, where he was responsible for managing, underwriting and monitoring a complex commercial lending portfolio across a wide range of company sizes and industries.

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Molly Dill This exclusive news bulletin is compiled by BizTimes Milwaukee reporter Molly Dill. This bulletin is published every Tuesday morning. Send financial services industry news and tips to or call her at (414) 336-7144.

Additional Resources

» Wisconsin Association of Accountants
» Wisconsin Institute of Certified Public Accountants
» Wisconsin Association for Financial Professionals

Financial Institutions

» Wisconsin Bankers Association
» The Wisconsin Credit Union League
» Community Bankers of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Mortgage Bankers Association

Financial Planning

» Financial Planning Association of Southern Wisconsin
» National Association of Personal Financial Advisors


» Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
» Wisconsin Association of Mutual Insurance Companies

Mergers & Acquisitions

» Midwest Business Brokers and Intermediaries
» Association for Corporate Growth - Wisconsin
» Turnaround Management Association - Chicago/Midwest

Other Resources

» Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions
» Wisconsin Government Finance Officers Association

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