Annex Wealth Management opens Mequon office

Elm Grove-based Annex Wealth Management LLC has opened a second office for its north shore customers in Mequon.

The new 2,500-square-foot leased office, at 1339 Mequon Road, is on a highly visible corner. About six employees will work out of the location, of which four are new hires, said Dave Spano, chief executive officer and president. The company is investing more than $200,000 in tenant improvement to the office.

Annex moved its existing location from Brookfield to the 40,000-square-foot building it owns in Elm Grove in February 2011. It rents out two-thirds of the headquarters building.

Spano founded Annex in 2000 to provide independent advice through a fiduciary standard firm, rather than the more common suitability standard, which requires recommendations to be suitable for clients.

“Most investment folks operate under what’s called a suitability standard,” he said. “We act in terms of the fiduciary standard, which means we always have to act in the best interest of our clients. What I wanted to do was operate under the fiduciary standard, and back then there was hardly anybody operating in that space.”

The company has grown to 47 employees and $1.3 billion in managed or represented assets.

Annex hosts “Money Talk” on 620 WTMJ and “The Investment Show” on 1130 WISN on Saturday mornings. The shows are broadcast throughout southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.

“One of the ways that we talk to our clients is through our radio shows,” he said. “We noticed a lot of people (calling in) on the north and east side of the Milwaukee metro area.”

Annex determined Mequon is a strategic location to reach those clients on the north shore.

“Those folks in Mequon sometimes feel like coming to Brookfield is like driving to Madison,” Spano said. “The main reason (for expansion) was to serve our potential and existing clients in the area.”

The firm stresses financial planning and wealth management services, and serves as a low-cost independent custodian for assets.

Potential clients who visit the firm are provided with an analysis of their existing holdings and a framework for financial planning going forward, Spano said. Getting people to come in for those second opinions is one way Annex has grown.

Financial Advisor Magazine named Annex a Top 50 Fastest Growing Firm nationally in 2011 and 2012. It has more than 1,000 clients and grew its assets by 44 percent in 2012.

Looking forward, Spano plans to continue expanding the firm’s reach into the Fox Valley, Lake Geneva area and the Chicagoland area. Those moves would result in more hiring.

“We have a lot of clients in northern Illinois and we continue to grow through referrals,” he said. “In 2014, we have a lot of initiatives that include expanding into the qualified plan space.”

Spano also plans to eventually offer tax planning and preparation to existing clients and take the company’s educational presentations on “road shows” throughout its footprint.

He doesn’t want to wait until the file cabinet is full before building another one, Spano said. He takes advantage of growth opportunities as he sees them.

“We continue to maintain and manage our goals and expectations and we continue to grind at it every day,” he said. “There are estimates that 10,000 Baby Boomers per day are retiring and those folks really need financial services. I think there’s a huge lack of people willing to give financial advice and not get a commission for doing it. I think what people really want is unbiased advice that is personalized to them.”

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