Southeastern Wisconsin financial service industry news
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
ARI Network Services acquires Direct Communications
July 14, 2015 10:34 AM
Milwaukee-based ARI Network Services Inc. today announced that it has acquired Des Moines, Iowa-based Direct Communications Inc. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

ARI offers a suite of Software as a Service, software tools and marketing services for dealer, manufacturer and distributor sales in select verticals. It has about 350 employees.

DCi, founded in 1981, is a leading provider of differentiated product content and electronic catalog software for manufacturers, distributors, jobbers and independent retailers in the automotive aftermarket. Its headquarters will remain in Des Moines, and Mark Toebben will continue to head the division as vice president and general manager of DCi, an ARI Company. It has 37 employees, all of whom will stay on in Des Moines.

ARI expects the acquisition to generate about $4 million in incremental revenue and be accretive to EBITDA in fiscal 2016. The company also in April acquired TASCO Corp., a Wexford, Pa.-based business management software provider for aftermarket tires.

“The acquisition of DCi will accelerate ARI’s growth in the automotive aftermarket and is consistent with our strategy to grow the business both organically and through strategic acquisitions,” said Roy Olivier, ARI president and chief executive officer. “The acquisition allows ARI to further expand the reach of our data-driven e-commerce websites and automotive point-of-sale software and will propel the development of new technologies to serve the 500,000 businesses in the automotive aftermarket.”

comment »

First Bank Financial Centre to open Glendale branch
July 14, 2015 11:02 AM
Oconomowoc-based First Bank Financial Centre plans to open a branch in Glendale later this year.

FBFC is aiming to locate its newest branch in the space vacated by AnchorBank, at 5555 N. Port Washington Road. AnchorBank plans to move across the street to 5520 N. Port Washington Road. The plan will go before the Glendale Plan Commission in August.

The Glendale branch would bridge the gap between the First Bank Financial Centre’s Mequon location and its new downtown Milwaukee SBA loan office, which will be occupied starting next week and will have a retail presence beginning in August, said Jeff McCarthy, vice president, marketing director.

First Bank’s downtown branch is its first Milwaukee County location. It has opened six new branches in the past three years, and recently completed a 25,000-square-foot addition to its Oconomowoc headquarters. FBFC has 12 full-service branches and two loan offices in Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington and Dane counties. It has about 250 employees.

comment »

Bank Mutual names new COO
July 14, 2015 10:47 AM
Brown Deer-based Bank Mutual Corp. has hired Joe Fikejs as chief operating officer.

Fikejs, who will be based at the Brown Deer headquarters, will be responsible for leading the bank’s Operations and Information Services divisions. He has 21 years of financial experience, most recently as vice president of finance-operations at Bergstrom Automotive for five years.

Fikejs also previously served as senior vice president/director of Commercial Banking Sales & Support at Associated Bank. He holds an MBA in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and an undergraduate degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Fikejs is also active in the community as a member of the UW-Oshkosh MBA advisory board; Boys & Girls Brigade board; Kiwanis Club of Appleton board; March of Dimes Appleton Walk chair; Junior Achievement board; Boy Scouts of America fundraiser advocate; United Way fundraiser advocate; Hmong resettlement volunteer; and SCORE participant.

“We are pleased to have Joe Fikejs join our executive team,” said David Baumgarten, president and chief executive officer of Bank Mutual. “Joe’s experience (and) ability to lead large scale projects and produce results will be an asset to the bank as we continue to grow (and) enhance our internal systems and customer experience across all areas of the bank.”

comment »

Daelemans named director of Wisconsin Angel Network
July 14, 2015 11:14 AM
Bram Daelemans has been hired as director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, part of the statewide Wisconsin Technology Council.

WAN is an umbrella organization that provides services and resources to early stage investors and the communities of entrepreneurial companies they invest in.

Daelemans was previously an entrepreneur at Madison-based water treatment startup AquaMost and most recently served as associate director of Brookfield-based Golden Angels Investors, a group of 100-plus active investors in tech-based companies. He grew up in Belgium and is fluent in three languages. Daelemans holds an undergraduate business management degree from Carroll University, and master’s degrees in both business administration and applied economics and an entrepreneurship certificate from Marquette University.

“Bram brings a mix of experience to his role as director of the Wisconsin Angel Network, including connections that reach well beyond the state,” said Tom Still, president of the WTC.

The WTC also manages the Wisconsin Innovation Network, the Governor’s Business Plan Contest, the Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference, the Wisconsin Tech Summit, the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium and the Wisconsin YES! youth business plan contest.

comment »

U.S. Bank adds Fiserv billing service
July 14, 2015 11:26 AM
U.S. Bank, the fifth largest bank in the U.S., has added to its services the Biller Advantage product offered by Brookfield-based Fiserv Inc.

Through Biller Advantage, U.S. Bank’s small business customers will be able to offer advanced electronic billing and payment options to customers; more efficiently send bills and accept payments; and accept electronic payments through many channels. Some of the service’s capabilities were previously only available to large businesses.

“Consumers are looking for ways to simplify their finances and streamline their bill payment process. Our business customers want to meet this demand and offer consumers the best and most user-friendly billing and payment options,” said Sam Robb, senior vice president, U.S. Bank. “Biller Advantage from Fiserv will allow us to offer a multichannel (electronic billing, presentment and payment) solution to our business customers – a new offering that will allow them to more efficiently send bills and quickly accept payments. It is a complimentary extension to our existing e-payment suite of biller services.”

Small businesses can use Biller Advantage to send e-bills to customers through the business’ website or through financial institutions that are part of Fiserv’s eBill Distribution network.

"Businesses are accustomed to turning to their bank for a variety of financial needs, and looking to their bank to address their need for electronic billing and payment capabilities is a natural extension of this existing relationship,” said Rahul Gupta, group president, Billing and Payments Group, Fiserv. “Fiserv has a long-standing history with U.S. Bank, and Biller Advantage will be another way we partner together to provide the best technology solutions to their diverse customer base.”

comment »

First Edge Solutions files for receivership
July 14, 2015 11:39 AM
Milwaukee-based First Edge Solutions has filed a petition in Milwaukee County Circuit Court for chapter 128 receivership.

First Edge, founded in 2003, is a multi-channel communication, print and document management provider with production facilities in Phoenix and Atlanta and satellite offices in Chicago, New York and St. Louis. It has 75 employees, 52 of whom are based in Wisconsin. In May 2014, First Edge acquired Milwaukee-based Proven Direct, an on-demand marketing, document output services and photo book publishing company, and moved its headquarters to 1301 W. Canal St. in Milwaukee.

First Edge attributed the filing to the impact of the changing health insurance industry, which was a core part of its business. The company remains operational and expects to retain all jobs and continue to accept and fill orders.

“Today’s filing in Milwaukee County Circuit Court gives us the time and framework to reposition while we continue to operate our business and serve our clients,” said Bobby Kraft, president and chief executive officer of First Edge. “It is part of a strategic business effort to reposition the company for new growth and success.”

Kraft and an undisclosed investor group in October acquired World Marketing Inc., the marketing and direct mail division of Omaha, Neb.-based Berkshire Hathaway’s Media Group. Kraft moved World Marketing’s headquarters and administrative operations to 1301 W. Canal St., where four new positions were created. World Marketing’s Atlanta, Chicago and Dallas plants and St. Louis office continued to operate, and Kraft became CEO of World Marketing, which has about 450 employees.

First Edge has “identified a buyer who intends to submit a bid to purchase the company’s assets and retain First Edge Solutions’ employees under its new ownership and operation of the business.”

Attorney Michael Polsky is the court-appointed receiver of First Edge. The court will determine the winning bid for the sale of the company’s assets. A bid deadline has not yet been set.

comment »

On the Money: Working beyond normal retirement age has its advantages
July 14, 2015 11:35 AM
Many Americans are staying in the workforce past their normal retirement age. According to the U.S. Social Security Administration, more than 30 percent of individuals between the ages of 70 and 74 reported income from earnings in 2010 (the latest year data is available). Among those ages 65 to 69, nearly 49 percent reported employment income.

Read more in an On the Money column by Mike Arnow of Sattell, Johnson, Appel Financial Advisory in the latest issue of BizTimes Milwaukee.

comment »

Milwaukee Biz Blog: Angel, venture investments in Wisconsin took healthy jump in 2014
July 14, 2015 11:33 AM
One of the enduring gripes about Wisconsin's startup and scale-up climate has been the lack of enough angel and venture capital.

Perhaps we'll look back on 2014 as the year Wisconsin finally turned the corner.

Read more in a Milwaukee Biz Blog by Tom Still, president of the Wisconsin Technology Council.

comment »

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

Current Issue