Strategic Alliances


Wayne Schmidt, CFA®, Chief Investment Officer of Gradient Investments, LLC

In October 2008, Wayne Schmidt joined Gradient Investments, LLC to serve as chief investment officer. Boasting over 26 years in the financial industry, Wayne brings invaluable institutional experience and in-depth knowledge of the private client market to Gradient Investments, and offers a global investment management perspective.

Wayne is an essential and direct resource for investment advisors and their clients. He provides vast wisdom, knowledge and tools to help investment advisors both grow their practices and their clients’ assets.

In a nationwide search that included acquisition considerations, AXA Investment Managers, a subsidiary of the European insurance giant AXA Group, handpicked Wayne to build their U.S. investment grade fixed income capabilities and to lead a seasoned portfolio team located in Saint Paul.

During his tenure at AXA Investment Managers, Wayne served as senior portfolio manager for the U.S. investment grade fixed income team. As the lead portfolio manager, he managed $9.5 billion of fixed income assets with a variety of mandates ranging from aggregate, corporate and government bond portfolios.

Before joining AXA Investment Managers, Wayne dedicated over 20 years to Minnesota Life and its $14 billion investment arm, Advantus Insurance Solutions. As their portfolio manager, he managed a variety of high-grade funds as part of Advantus’s $1.8 billion Total Return Product for institutional and retail clients. He also served as the lead portfolio manager of the Advantus Bond Fund and the co-portfolio manager of the Advantus Spectrum Fund.

Wayne earned his Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.

Over the years, Wayne has been quoted on the global economy in numerous nationally and internationally recognized investment publications such as: Bloomberg, Pension & Investments, Reuters, The Los Angeles Times, Financial Week (2008 Neal Award Winner), Asia Times, InvestorVillage, Safehaven, SFO, Credit Investment News and RGE Monitor (Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitorinvestment). He has also provided market insights on Bloomberg radio and television.

Wayne’s love of Minnesota is Gradient Investments’ great fortune, as he declined to relocate with AXA Investment Managers following their strategic decision to consolidate function into a high-yield operation in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Michael Binger, CFA®, Senior Portfolio Manager of Gradient Investment, LLC

Michael Binger, CFA®, serves as the senior portfolio manager for Gradient Investments, LLC. Michael brings over 24 years of institutional equity investment experience to Gradient. He has extensive experience working directly with financial advisors designing and actively managing portfolios. Michael has successfully managed assets in numerous market and economic cycles giving him a level and depth of experience that is rare in this industry.

Michael started his investment career in Minneapolis with Lutheran Brotherhood in 1987 and gained experience managing assets in a variety of asset classes including convertible bonds, small cap equities and large cap equities. When Lutheran Brotherhood and Aid Association for Lutherans merged in 2001 to become Thrivent Financial, Michael was selected to work as the senior portfolio manager on the Large Cap Growth Team and Large Cap Alpha Team managing over $3 billion in assets. As the senior portfolio manager, he developed and oversaw the tactical investment strategies utilized within mutual funds, variable annuities, pension funds and insurance company products. These investment processes included proprietary portfolio construction strategies, security selection parameters and volatility controlled umbrellas.

Michael graduated from the University of Minnesota earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Finance. He graduated with honors and was the University of Minnesota’s “Wall Street Journal Award Winner.” Michael is a CFA® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.

Michael’s media highlights include providing market insight on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Smart Money, Reuters, Business Week and numerous other local, national and global investment publications.


Nick Stovall, CPA /PFSSM, CGMA, MBA, Owner, president and chief tax strategist of Stovall and Associates, Ltd.

Nick Stovall is at the forefront in accounting; strategic financial planning; business, IRA and technical taxation; tax law and policy; and investing. With extensive knowledge of the financial services industry and a solid understanding of the complex demands of diverse business settings, his experience provides invaluable perspective into the intricate relationship between tax and business issues.
During his tenure in the private industry sector, Stovall served as the chief financial officer for Glenn Corporation, E Energy Adams and Gradient Financial Group, LLC. He has also consulted in the public sector serving individuals and businesses in the areas of financial and tax planning. Stovall was an instructor with National American University, teaching upper division accounting courses and remains a mentor for aspiring accountants in the Twin Cities area.

Stovall founded what is now Stovall and Associates, Ltd., an independent certified public accounting firm located in Minnesota. As owner, president, and chief tax strategist for the company, Stovall provides an invaluable perspective on the intricate relationships between tax and business issues to clients across the United States and Europe.
He earned the Masters of Business Administration in Accounting and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the University of St. Thomas where he graduated with distinction. In addition, he attended Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota for the Masters of Business Taxation. Nick also holds his series 27, 7 and 66, as well as his life and health license. In addition, Stovall recently just published his first book: “Retirement Income an Owner’s Manual.”
Stovall remains active in the accounting industry and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accountants (MnCPA) and the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA). He is a member of Ed Slott’s Elite IRA Advisor Group.

David Love, CPA, PLLC

Information: David is a CPA and has 30+ years of experience in accounting and tax. He was born in Athens, GA and graduated from the University of Georgia with a Masters Degree in 1972. David works to save his clients money in both the tax and accounting business and his financial services business. He lives in the University area of Charlotte. His hobbies include reading, gardening, and attending University of Georgia football games.

A4 Insurance Solutions and A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC do not give tax or legal advice. A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC has various CPAs and attorneys listed which are non-affiliated business partners. We are also happy to work with your existing CPA or attorney in establishing a comprehensive financial plan.

Chuck Maness, CPA, P.C.

Chuck started his financial career as a disbursing clerk with the United States Marine Corps in 1981. Using the education funding provided by the military and part-time jobs, he worked his way through college, graduating in 1989 with high honors from the University of Tennessee. He would later return to UT to obtain his Masters in Business Administration.

Chuck employs over 20 years of corporate and public accounting experience in assisting his clients. He especially enjoys simplifying the financial administration burden associated with running a business; allowing clients to focus on business development activities. He also gets a “charge” out of resolving tax related compliance and planning issues for his clients.

An avid hiker and exercise enthusiast, Chuck enjoys many outdoor activities. He also enjoys music and is active in Huntersville Presbyterian Church.

“A primary goal of every business owner should be to enjoy the business they have developed. My practice is devoted to assisting business owners achieve this goal by reducing the stress associated with financial administration and tax related issues.”

A4 Insurance Solutions and A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC do not give tax or legal advice. A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC has various CPAs and attorneys listed which are non-affiliated business partners. We are also happy to work with your existing CPA or attorney in establishing a comprehensive financial plan.

Chris Adkins

I am a native of Charlotte and graduated from Myers Park High School in 1999. I attended Appalachian State University, where I majored in Criminal Justice. While a student at ASU, I completed internships with the United States Probation Service and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD). After finishing my undergraduate degree in 2003, I moved to Oklahoma and completed my Juris Doctor from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2006.

Upon graduation from law school, I moved back to Charlotte and completed an internship with Legal Services of Southern Piedmont. At LSSP, I worked in the Consumer Law Division and handled unemployment compensation hearings.

In early 2007, I joined CMPD and graduated from Basic Law Enforcement Training (BLET). I spent a total of 6.5 years with CMPD as a patrol officer and on a directed patrol team. While with CMPD, I made over 1200 felony and misdemeanor arrests. At least 150 of these arrests were for DWI. I also issued over 1000 traffic citations. Additionally, I have made thousands of traffic stops and conducted several hundred DWI investigations.

I am a certified operator of the Intox EC/IR II breath alcohol testing instrument. I have also been certified by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct standard field sobriety testing (SFST) and certified by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in using and maintaining roadside alcohol screening test devices. In May 2013, I was awarded the Advanced Law Enforcement Certificate, the highest level of law enforcement certification in the State of North Carolina.

Since completing law school, I have also obtained a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University in 2009 and a graduate certificate in Terrorism Studies from the University of St. Andrews in 2010.

I am also a veteran of the United States Army, having served as an Engineer Officer in the North Carolina Army National Guard. I deployed to Kuwait from July 2012 to August 2013 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

In my free time I enjoy traveling. I have had the opportunity to circumnavigate the world by ship in 2002 and circumnavigate the Pacific Rim by ship in 2004. Through school, work, and pleasure, I have visited over 40 foreign countries. I also enjoy reading, distance running, cooking, and brewing beer. I live in Huntersville with my two beautiful daughters and our two yellow labrador retrievers. We are members of Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte and St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Huntersville.

I believe in hard work, discipline, and fighting vigorously for my clients. I will use my professional experience, life experience, and education to deliver you the best legal advice and services possible. I believe in honesty and providing my clients with realistic expectations. This approach leads to an open collaboration, which develops a stronger partnership between client and attorney. Although I can never guarantee a particular result, I can guarantee professionalism and absolute preparation.

Randolph C. Romeo, Esq., Attorney at Law

Randolph received his B.B.A. Degree in Business Management from the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, in 1971. In 1976 he was awarded his Juris Doctor Degree from Cumberland School of Law, Samford University, in 1976, and was admitted to the North Carolina Bar in 1976. Randy has been in private practice in Hendersonville, North Carolina, since 1976, focusing on estate planning, real estate law, and business law.

Randy has been married to Ann Romeo since 1975, has two wonderful children, Candace and Chris, and one adorable grandchild, Witt. Chris is following in his father’s footsteps, as he is currently in law school at Cumberland School of Law.

A4 Insurance Solutions and A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC do not give tax or legal advice. A4 Wealth Advisors, LLC has various CPAs and attorneys listed which are non-affiliated business partners. We are also happy to work with your existing CPA or attorney in establishing a comprehensive financial plan.

Martin M. Brennan, Jr. Esq., CPA, PLLC, Brennan Law Firm

Marty received his undergraduate degree in Accounting from The Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania, and his law degree from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh, PA. Marty moved to NC in January, 1986.

After practicing for three years with a “Big 8” accounting firm in Raleigh, NC and 15 1/2 years with large law firms in Raleigh and Charlotte, NC, Marty opened Brennan Law Firm, PLLC on May 1, 2004, in Cornelius, NC. Brennan Law Firm primarily focuses in four areas: (1) ERISA/Employee benefit plans, (2) estate planning and administration, (3) corporate and limited liability company formation and maintenance , including mergers and acquisitions, and (4) general tax issues.

Marty uses his broad tax and legal background and hands-on experience to guide his clients through the complexities of the tax laws and counsels and advises them on many business and individual issues. No matter how complicated or simple the issue, Marty takes the time with each client to understand their individual situation and assisted them in making informed decisions.

In additional to being a licensed attorney in both NC and VA, Marty is a Certified Public Accountant. Marty is a member of the American Bar Association, the NC Bar Association and the Mecklenburg County Bar Association. The Brennan Law Firm, PLLC is also a member of the Lake Norman Chamber of Commerce.

Marty and his wife, “Z,” live in Huntersville, NC. They have two children, Zalinia and Michael. They attend St. Mark Catholic Church, where Marty is active as a Mass Coordinator, Eucharistic Minister and an Usher. Marty is also active in the Knights of Columbus.

Marty Karriker, CEO of Charlotte Insurance

Marty Karriker, who is the President & CEO of Charlotte Insurance, and a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, started in the insurance business in 1990. He began his insurance career in Life & Health Insurance after being sidelined due to injuries from football after his Junior year while at N.C. State University on Scholarship. Upon graduating NCSU with a B.A. Degree in Business Management, Mr. Karriker, along with Vice-President Sean Hertel, purchased an existing Auto Insurance Agency. They then began opening Agencies across the State of North Carolina. However by the end of 1999 they consolidated all of their far reaching locations and began focusing on the local market. Charlotte Insurance has an office in Charlotte and in Cornelius at Lake Norman where it is one of the largest privately owned insurance Agencies in Premium Volume and Customer Base in North Carolina & South Carolina. Mr. Karriker was also a leader in seeing the need to embrace Agency Automation and Internet Capabilities, which is much attributed to the success of the company. Today, he mostly oversees business infrastructure, marketing, development, growth and implementation.