Our Partners



wayneWayne Schmidt, CFA®

Chief Investment Officer of Gradient Investments, LLC

In October 2008, Wayne Schmidt joined Gradient Investments, LLC and serves as Chief Investment Officer. With 26 years of investment experience, Wayne brings decades of institutional experience and in-depth knowledge of the private client market to Gradient Investments, and offers a global investment management perspective.

Wayne is an invaluable and direct resource for affiliated investment advisors and their clients. He provides vast wisdom, knowledge, experience and tools to help investment advisors grow their practice, while also growing 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 St. Paul, Minnesota.

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 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 the high-yield operation in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Michael Binger, CFA®

Senior Portfolio Manager of Gradient Investments, LLC

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

Binger started his investment career in Minneapolis, Minnesota 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, Binger 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.

Binger 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.” Binger is a CFA® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.

Binger’s media highlights include numerous appearances, 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.

Case Central, LLC

Case Central, LLC is a team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERS™ (CFPs®) that utilizes a suite of cutting-edge software reports to clearly communicate complex financial concepts and provide unique insight into your current financial situation. These proprietary reports cover a wide range of critical retirement topics such as income planning, risk analysis, and Social Security optimization.

When needed, Case Central will partner with certified public accountants (CPAs) and Chartered Financial Analysts® (CFAs) to provide you with a wealth of industry experience and financial perspective.

As you prepare for retirement, you will be faced with many important financial decisions, and the consequences of those decisions can have a significant impact on your financial future. Our partnership with Case Central helps ensure you have the support, tools and resources you need to make an informed decision about your retirement and craft the solution that is best for you.

Lance Howard does not provide tax and/or legal advice, but will work with your attorney or independent tax or legal advisor. Lance Howard is not affiliated with or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.

guyGuy Baker, CFP, MSFS, MSM, MBA

Managing Director, BTA Advisory Group and Wealth TEAMS Solutions

Guy Baker’s experience in the business and estate planning fields is extensive. He has completed estate plans for families who have a net worth in excess of $25,000,000 working with nationally known estate planning attorneys. Guy also uses similar strategies to help those with smaller estates solve similar problems. A frequent writer and speaker, Guy has spoken to advisors in more than fifty countries.

Guy was elected President of The Million Dollar Round Table – the Premier Financial Services Organization with over 40,000 members in 85 countries. Guy completed his tenure as President in 2010. He was also MDRT Foundation President, and served as a member of Advanced Association of Life Underwriters (AALU), a Washington D.C. based organization. AALU works with Congress to formulate industry favorable legislation. He was President of the National Association of Family Wealth Counselors. He has received many awards and honors in the industry, including the Pacific Life Preston Hotchkis “Distinguished Achievement Award”.

Guy formed BTA Advisory Group as a multi-disciplinary organization to serve the needs of families and owners of closely held businesses. Each of the sister organizations are managed by an experienced professional and partner. In addition to Wealth Teams Solutions, other organizations include The Stewardship Advisors, an estate and legacy planning consulting firm; BMI Consulting, a national management consulting firm specializing in the succession and compensation issues and problems facing closely-held businesses; Baker Jensen Investment Advisors, a registered investment advisor. Insight Wealth, a registered investment advisory firm; BTA Advisory Group remains primarily an insurance and financial products marketing company.

Guy earned a BS/Economics in 1967 from Claremont McKenna College and went on to earn a MBA/Finance in 1968 from the University of Southern California; Guy was certified as a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) and became a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC). He holds a Master’s degree in Financial Services (MSFS) and a Master’s in Management (MSM). In addition, Guy is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and a Registered Health Underwriter (RHU). He was given an Honorary AEP by the National Association of Estate Planning Councils as was inducted into their Hall of Fame. Guy also received his Certified Family Wealth Counselor designation and is a Investment Advisor Representative.


We work with Wealth TEAMS Solutions (Tax Efficient Asset Management Solution, Inc.), a California State registered investment advisor that exclusively uses Dimensional Fund Advisor portfolios. Wealth TEAMS includes a group of dedicated professionals helping clients accumulate capital for retirement using the most recent research and data. Once a client reaches retirement, Wealth TEAMS Solutions prepares a distribution plan designed to last throughout retirement. They have access to the most recent research and strategies used to provide a “Paycheck for Life,” regardless of economic conditions.

Over his career, Wealth TEAMS founder and owner, Guy Baker, saw families and business owners lose money using big name, investment advisors. When he discovered Modern Portfolio Theory built around the 1990 Nobel Prize winning research and data, he formed his first advisory firm, Baker Jensen Investment Advisors. His decision proved to be very beneficial to clients, resulting in consistent, long term returns and reducing volatility in turbulent markets for his investment clients.