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Strategic Alliances

wayneWayne 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 Capital Management. 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.


mikeMichael Binger, CFA®

Senior Portfolio Manager of Gradient Investments, 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 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.


mariannMariann Montagne, CFA®

Senior Investment Analyst of Gradient Investments, LLC

Mariann Montagne, CFA® serves as a Senior Investment Analyst for Gradient Investments, LLC. She has 20 plus years of experience working with both institutional and high net worth clients, and has amassed a strong breadth of investment experience during her tenure. This includes company and industry sector analysis, risk monitoring and portfolio management in both the equity and fixed income markets. She is highly attuned to economic and market conditions, and has extensive experience selecting individual stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

Prior to joining Gradient Investments, she was the Senior Investment Analyst and co-Portfolio Manager for a Minneapolis-based Registered Investment Advisor with over $500 million in assets under management. Montagne was involved in security selection, portfolio management, client presentations and setting strategic direction for the investment department. Her coverage included individual securities, ETF’s and mutual funds in the equity, fixed income and alternative asset classes. Prior to that, she was a Senior Investment Analyst at Thrivent Asset Management examining industry sectors and selecting individual equities. Montagne also spent several years at Munder Capital Management as the assistant director of research along with covering growth and value equities.

Montagne served for seven years on the Global Board of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY), including posts as president and conference chair.

She is a Chartered Financial Analyst and a member of both the CFA Society of Minnesota and the CFA Institute. Montagne is an alumnus of the University of Detroit where she graduated cum laude with a Finance major and an English minor.

Montagne’s media highlights include quotes in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, NPR, Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News.


bio-nickNick 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.


bio-nickAndrew F. Sabourin

Attorney at Law

Attorney Andrew Sabourin focuses exclusively on Estate Planning which includes Wills, Trusts (revocable and irrevocable), Power of Attorneys for both finances and medical care, HIPAA compliant medical authorizations, and living wills.

People often choose Andrew from among the many estate planning lawyers in North Carolina because of his:

  • Specific focus — He focuses exclusively on helping clients with estate planning matters. By concentrating on this single area of law, he has developed deep and broad knowledge to apply to every client need.
  • One-on-one attention — Because he is in a small firm, he is able to give each client the personal attention they deserve.
  • Commitment to the community — He loves being part of this community. It is truly a privilege to be trusted by the people of this area, and he works to re-earn that trust every day.

Andrew grew up in central Massachusetts. He received his Doctorate of Jurisprudence from Massachusetts School of Law, his Bachelor’s in Political Science from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth and his high school diploma from Northfield Mount Hermon School.

Andrew and his wife Ashley fell in love with the Huntersville area after visiting several years eventually making the decision to move here. Andrew and his family’s love for the outdoors bring them kayaking on Lake Norman and hiking around the Latta Plantation Preserve.

Andrew has always taken an active role in the welfare of his community. He is an active member of the charitable organization Ancient Free and Accepted Mason’s and regular volunteer with his local church. Prior to moving to Huntersville, Andrew volunteered and ran a community blood drive.

Attorney Andrew F. Sabourin is insured, Affiliations and Lawyer Referral Services, ARAG Network Attorney



Chuck-ManessChuck Maness


I started my 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, I worked my way through college, graduating in 1989 with high honors from the University of Tennessee. I later returned to UT to obtain my Master’s in Business Administration.

I employ over 20 years of corporate and public accounting experience in assisting my clients. I especially enjoy simplifying the financial administration burden associated with running a business; allowing clients to focus on business development activities. I also get a “charge” out of resolving tax related compliance and planning issues for my clients.

I am an avid hiker and exercise enthusiast, and I enjoy many other outdoor activities too. I enjoy music and I‘m 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.”


Kristy Duncan, LPC, M.Ed

Kristy Duncan is a Licensed Professional Counselor at Succeed Where It Counts. She holds the Master of Education degree (Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC). She has many years of experience as a guidance counselor in the public school system, and as a Child Grief specialist in independent practice. As a graduate assistant at Winthrop University Kristy worked in the placement office helping undergraduates identify and secure placement in career-track employment.

Following the birth of her three children, and their beginning elementary school, Kristy elected to re-fire her career by affiliating with SWIC. Kristy, her husband Tom, and George are longtime friends. She brings skills and expertise that complement George’s. They make a strong team, working with high school students to find the right college at the right price, and to graduate on time with the right degree. Kristy is married to Tom Duncan, a Senior Associate with Boykin Management Company. Residing in Cornelius, NC, the Duncans have three wonderful children and a great dog.


Dr. George Gately, Founder of Succeed Where It Counts

After a quarter-century as a pastor, George ventured into the business world. George helps families stay out of debt and retire on time with his college admission and financial aid coaching strategies. He aspires to help parents help their students select the Right College, at the Right Price, to Graduate on Time with the Right Degree© without compromising their financial retirement plan.