Fading But Still Sturdy Profits Should Sustain Growth

Although the Covid recession ended two years ago and the U.S. economy embarked on a remarkably strong recovery, many market prognosticators are sounding alarms that a recession is just around the corner. While we are not yet in that camp, it would be foolhardy to dismiss those claims out of hand. Indeed, there are more than enough triggers to at least acknowledge the rising risk of a downturn. These include surging inflation that is robbing workers and households of purchasing power, an aggressive rate-hiking campaign by the Federal Reserve, the confidence-shattering war in Ukraine, and Covid-related lockdowns in China that are exacerbating supply-chain shocks and amplifying inflationary pressures.

These triggers have roiled the financial markets. Through late May, the stock market had its worst start to a year since 1970, with the S&P 500 down 18 percent. Bond yields have risen substantially, driving up borrowing costs for the Treasury, corporations, and households, particularly for homebuyers who have seen the cost of carrying a mortgage increase by 30 percent since the start of the year. A key recession signal flashed recently when short-term rates rose above long-term yields, resulting in a yield-curve inversion that has historically foreshadowed downturns.

These are worrisome events that decision-makers ignore at their peril. That said, there are few signs of anyone burying their head in the sand. The Federal Reserve may have waited too long to abandon its turbo-charged easy monetary policy, but it is now on the proper path to rein in inflation. Even so, it is far less confident of bringing about a soft landing – reducing inflation without choking off the recovery – than it was earlier in the year. Fed chair Powell recently admitted that recession risks have risen, and a soft landing will take much luck and skilled policy management. Likewise, investors are hardly looking at the future through rose-colored glasses, as evidenced by their dumping of risk assets and sizeable declines in stock prices. Of course, being prepared for a recession does not prevent one from occurring. But neither does it mean that one is inevitable. While the risks have risen, there are compelling reasons to believe the economy will continue to grow, at least over the foreseeable future.

Sturdy Profits

Although the swirl of events has cast a shadow over the economic landscape, businesses continue to enjoy buoyant profits. And since profits are a key driver of hiring and business spending, the longer they remain elevaRecord Profits Chartted, the better the odds that the economy will remain afloat. Since the end of the recession, economy-wide profit margins – defined as before-tax profits as a share of GDP – have increased from 10 percent to an all-time high of 12.6 percent in the third quarter of 2021 before slipping to 12.2 percent in the fourth quarter.

Clearly, the bottom line of corporate balance sheets has benefited from top-line growth in revenues. Fueled by a vibrant consumer base armed with more than $5 trillion in pandemic stimulus checks and tax breaks, businesses enjoyed an astonishing increase in demand over the past two years. Even with lockdown restrictions and health fears that discouraged spending on in-person services, the entire drop in consumption during the recession was recovered within a year. Since then, households have continued to spend at a break-neck pace, driving consumption above where it would have been had the recession never occurred, based on the trend in effect prior to the pandemic.

But robust demand is only one influence driving profits. The other, just as important, is pricing power. Simply put, corporations were able to pass on rising labor and material costs to their customers and then some. The unusually high degree of pricing power has been a critical feature of this cycle’s margin expansion. It also, together with the strengthened bargaining power of labor, underpins the rampant inflation that has become the main economic scourge in the nation. How long companies can embellish their bottom lines depends on how long they can continue to cover rising labor and other costs with price increases.

Labor Costs to Stay Elevated

Compensation costs – by far the largest share of corporate expenses and a crucial determinant of profitability – have accelerated in recent quarters. That’s not surprising since competition for workers is fierce, with a record-high 1.9 job openings for every unemployed worker. In the first quarter, the employment cost index – the government’s comprehensive measure of labor costs that includes both wages and benefits – staged its biggest quarterly jump since 1990, climbing 4.5 percent from a year ago from 3.9 percent the previous quarter.

Small Business Inflation GaugeNot only has the rate of wage increases accelerated, but so has the share of employees receiving bigger paychecks, with 80 percent of industries reporting faster compensation costs in the first quarter. Leading indicators suggest that wage pressures will not ease anytime soon. Amid a very competitive job market, workers are quitting at a record pace, lured by higher-paying opportunities elsewhere, or confidence that another job can be found quickly. This is a time-honored sign that workers still have the upper hand in the labor market. Another indication of worker bargaining power can be found among small businesses, which employ most workers. According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), the share of small firms that plan to raise worker compensation over the next three months is the second-highest on record.

With the job market still robust, any easing of wage pressures is not imminent. The only way companies can mitigate the stress of rising labor costs – besides raising prices – is through productivity gains. If workers generate more output per hour, the additional revenues can be used to pay higher wages, and unit costs would not increase. But strengthened productivity has not been a friend to businesses this year. In the first quarter, total output (GDP) contracted even as worker hours increased, resulting in a 7.5 percent plunge in productivity and a corresponding spike in unit labor costs. Hence, businesses were forced to raise prices aggressively to protect the bottom line.

Challenging Outlook for Profits

Needless to say, when companies can raise prices faster than unit labor costs increase, inflation accelerates. This is precisely what has been happening, stoking the steepest inflation rate seen in nearly 40 years and sustaining the historically high level of profit margins. According to the aforementioned NFIB survey, a staggering 70 percent of small business owners raised their prices in April. Notably, the sturdy increase in retail sales that month indicates that consumers were willing to accept those price increases.

However, this is not a sustainable trend, and signs of consumer resistance are already emerging. Some major consumer-oriented companies reported disappointing earnings results in May, including Walmart and Target, mainly because customers shunned higher-priced big-ticket items, and sales revenues failed to keep pace with rising labor and other costs. This is not surprising, as household surveys reveal that inflation is eating into budgets and eroding confidence. Along with the plunge in consumer sentiment in recent months to the lowest point in more than a decade, households are also scaling back their buying plans.

Hence, companies are faced with the difficult choice of restraining price increases or risk losing sales. Early signs are that they are choosing the former. Again, looking at the NFIB, the share of small businesses planning to raise prices over the next three months slipped to 46 percent in April from a record 54 percent last November. That is still a high share historically, but it indicates that business pricing power is losing some strength.

Implications for the Economy

This would be good news for the Fed, as it suggests that interest rates do not have to increase as steeply to curb inflation as otherwise, reducing the risk of a recession. But it is bad news for profits because costs are continuing to increase. Prices of commodities used for production remain under pressure due to the war in Ukraine and China’s Covid lockdowns. Meanwhile, labor shortages will continue to lift wages as long as the demand for workers stays strong.

However, if price increases start to slow, so too would inflation expectations, which would have positive feedback on labor negotiations. Workers would feel less urgency to demand ever-escalating wage increases to compensate for eroding purchasing power. But in today’s very tight job market, workers are still in a strong bargaining position, so labor costs are likely to recede more slowly than prices, putting more of a squeeze on profits. Odds are the peak in profit margins is behind us.

Importantly, shrinking profit margins is a time-honored trend during the late stage of a business cycle. It does not mean that a recession is just around the corner. Every recession since 1960 was preceded by pronounced margin contractions, but the lag time has varied widely – from 12 months to more than five years. A lot depends on the speed of margin erosion and how aggressively employers respond by laying off workers, driving up unemployment.

Going into this year, companies had a record cushion of profits to work with, which should buy them time to get costs under control before taking recession-inducing measures. Historically, employers hold on to their workers during the late stage of an expansion even when demand starts to weaken. One reason is that they need time to assess if the weakness is temporary or the start of a permanent pullback in sales. Hiccups occur during expansions, and it isn’t easy to modify the size of a workforce to align with temporary shifts in sales. Ultimately, the fate of business profits will depend on revenue growth. If the Federal Reserve can skillfully manage its anti-inflation policy without choking off demand — accomplishing a soft landing — it would silence the recession alarms now ringing in the financial markets.

Weight of the Evidence

If you are a Legacy client and have questions, please do not hesitate to contact your Legacy advisor. If you are not a Legacy client and are interested in learning more about our approach to personalized wealth management, please contact us at 920.967.5020 or info@lptrust.com.

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Marta G. O’Brien

Vice President & Senior Trust and Financial Advisor

Marta O’Brien joined Legacy in November of 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a JD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Prior to joining Legacy, Marta had several years of extensive personal trust experience with two large national trust companies in Madison and Appleton.

Marta and her family have been long-time residents of the Appleton community. Marta is a graduate of Xavier High School and is an avid volunteer in the St. Francis Xavier school system. As a seasonal resident of the Waupaca area, Marta and her children can be found cruising the waterways by boat in the summer months. While Marta enjoys the outdoors and feeling the wind in her hair, she leaves it up to her kids to perform in the water-ski shows. She supports their efforts by volunteering for the ski club and truly enjoys interacting with kids of all ages at both the lake and school.

Laurene M. Brooks

Vice President, Senior Trust and Financial Advisor

Laurene BrooksLaurene Brooks joined Legacy in 2004, shortly after the company’s inception. She earned undergraduate degrees in journalism and Spanish, and her Juris Doctor (JD) designation from Marquette University. Laurene has over 30 years of experience in law and relationship management. In addition to assisting clients with financial management and estate planning, Laurene is Legacy’s senior fiduciary officer. In addition, she was a member of the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Division of the Wisconsin State Bar for 10 years and served as chair.

Outside of work, Laurene volunteers at Lourdes Academy and St. Raphael the Archangel Parish in Oshkosh. Laurene and her husband have 3 adult sons and 2 daughters-in-law, as well as 1 granddaughter, and a “bonus” son from Burundi, Africa. Outside of work Laurene enjoys spending time with her family, as well as golfing, hiking, traveling, and spending time at their cabin in Saxeville.

Angel Will

Trust Support Services Assistant

Angel Will joined Legacy in 2013 and works closely with our trust operations team as a Trust Support Services Assistant. Prior to working at Legacy, she worked in circulation at the Neenah Public Library and as an educational assistant for the Neenah Joint School District. Angel was born and raised in Neenah, though she left the Fox Valley for several years after she married her husband, a now-retired member of the United States Air Force. Together they and their three children lived in Michigan, Florida, Idaho, and Germany. Outside of work, Angel enjoys scrapbooking, visiting her children at college, and is currently working towards earning her orange belt in Krav Maga. She is also a frequent participant in a local trivia competition with her dual colleagues and family members, Lucy Will and Olivia Will.

Trinity L. Maurice

Trust Support Services Assistant


Trinity Maurice joined Legacy in 2019 as a Trust Support Services Assistant. She has several years of trust operations experience, and prior to joining our team served as a Trust Operations Administrator at another financial institution. At Legacy, Trinity handles many daily trust operations tasks and oversees the reception area. Her excellent communication skills ensure that all processes flow smoothly not only within her team, but throughout all of Legacy. 

Outside of work, Trinity, her husband, and their two children enjoy spending time together with their extended family. They enjoy going to the movies and are lucky to live just down the street from a theater! They also try to take a trip together at least once a year and enjoy the variety of attractions available at the Wisconsin Dells. 

Sarah L. Brown

Special Services Assistant

Sarah joined Legacy in 2012 as a Trust Services Support Assistant and has recently made the transition into our audit and compliance department as a Special Services Assistant. She has an Associate Degree in Administrative Management and over 20 years of administrative experience.

Outside of work, Sarah enjoys concerts, traveling, and photographing live music events. 



Rita J. Braun

Trust Support Services Assistant

Rita Braun joined Legacy in 2020 as our Neenah office receptionist and a member of our Trust Operations Department. She graduated from Fox Valley Technical College with an associate’s degree in Child Care and Development and has over 22 years of customer service and event experience.

Rita and her husband of 31 years have 3 adult children.  She enjoys spending time with family and is also an active volunteer in the Agape Café at Neenah’s Trinity Lutheran Church.

Kelly J. O’Shea

Assistant Trust Officer

Kelly O’Shea joined Legacy in 2014 as a Client Representative before transitioning into our tax department. Kelly has 28 years total of administrative experience and has spent the last 4 years in tax and estate planning. Kelly earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Human Resources from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and holds the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) designation. 

Kelly is a Wisconsin native and currently lives in Appleton with her husband. Together they have two adult children. Kelly enjoys the outdoors and loves to read, volunteer at her church, and get together with friends and family over coffee.

Barbara A. Blashka

Tax and Financial Officer

Barbara has been leading our tax and financial planning group since 2006. She earned a BA from Lakeland University in Accounting and Business Administration and is a graduate of the National Graduate Trust School at Northwestern University. With more than 30 years of trust and financial experience, including 24 years concentrating on trust-related tax issues, Barb has an extensive record of client success. She serves as an invaluable resource to the other investment and trust professionals at Legacy as well as our clients.  

When she’s not busy studying the ever-changing IRS tax laws and regulations, Barb can be found visiting her two adult children, Austin and Jill. Barb also enjoys taking motorcycle excursions with her husband, Don, and their friends, boating during the summer and reading political thriller novels.

Teresa M. Pavelsky

Client Representative

Teresa joined Legacy in 2016 as a Client Representative. She graduated from Stratford Business School as a Medical and Administrative Assistant and has over 35 years of administrative and trust experience. 

Outside of work Teresa enjoys supporting various organizations that assist the homeless and address the issue of food scarcity. She is married and has two adult children, as well as several grandchildren. In her free time, Teresa loves to hike and read mystery novels. 

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Mary L. Jovanovich

Assistant Trust Officer

Mary Jovanovich joined Legacy shortly after the company started in 2004, having worked for more than two decades in the trust department of a large regional bank. As an assistant trust officer, she works closely with clients to manage many of their account service needs. Mary’s clients enjoy her cheerful personality and rely on her 30 years of trust administration experience.

Mary is a lifelong Wisconsin resident, and both she and her husband as well as their three grown children all graduated from Neenah High School (Go Rockets!). Never idle for very long, Mary can often be found peddling her bike along area trails and spending weekends doing outdoor activities with her four grandchildren. She is a longtime volunteer and organizer of the Neenah Summer Fun Runs, a series of community-sponsored events for children 14 and under. She also enjoys traveling with her husband to his Ironman competitions which have taken her to Lake Placid, New York, Hawaii, and Canada.

Kay F. Bahn

Client Representative

Kay joined Legacy in 2015 as a Support Services Specialist and transitioned to Client Representative in 2020. Prior to becoming a part of our team, Kay worked as a Program and Transition Manager. She attended the University of Wisconsin – Madison and is currently continuing her education at Lakeland University. At Legacy, Kay assists Marta O’Brien with her account administration and client relationships.  

Outside of work, Kay and her family love traveling, camping, hiking, and biking. Kay is also an active volunteer within the St. Mary Catholic School system, where her daughters attended elementary and high school, and can often be found at fundraising and sporting events. 

Olivia M. Will

Marketing Coordinator

Olivia joined Legacy in the summer of 2016 as a part-time Project Worker, completed a Hospitality and Marketing Internship during the summer of 2017, and was then promoted to Communication Design Specialist. She has since graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin – Stout with a BS in Hotel, Restaurant, and Tourism Management, and a certificate in Event and Meeting Management. Olivia also holds the Certified Financial Marketing Professional (CFMP) designation. After graduating in 2018, Olivia accepted a position at Legacy as the Marketing Coordinator and is currently pursuing her MBA with a concentration in marketing from the University of Wisconsin – Parkside and her MS in Technical and Professional Communication from the University of Wisconsin – Stout. 

Outside of work, Olivia enjoys reading and writing short stories. She is an avid concertgoer and frequently travels to Chicago, Milwaukee, and the Twin Cities in pursuit of seeing her favorite musicians live. Olivia also loves cooking and baking and is dedicated to seeing a movie with her fiancé in theatres at least once a week. She is also a frequent participant in a local trivia competition with her dual colleagues and family members, Angel Will and Lucy Will.

Judith M. Runde

Support Services Assistant

Judith Runde joined Legacy in 2016 as a Support Services Assistant and Client Representative. Prior to joining our team, she worked as a receptionist and accounting clerk for various businesses within a family office setting and has over 23 years of administrative experience. Judith genuinely enjoys working directly with her clients and is always ready to help answer questions and solve problems.  

In her free time, Judith enjoys taking evening walks and playing on a bocce ball team with her husband during the summer months. She also loves spending time with her eight grandchildren, who range in age from three to seven years old.

Doneen A. Hanson

Executive Assistant

Doneen Hanson joined Legacy in 2019 as an Executive Assistant. Prior to joining our team, she was the director at St. Paul’s Lutheran Child Center, where her responsibilities included budgeting, human resources, and creating and revising policies and procedures. Doneen earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Services from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh.

Outside of work, Doneen enjoys spending time with her family. During the Summer she enjoys gardening and boating. The rest of the year, she likes hiking and walking, as well as watching her children and grandchildren participating in all of their activities.

 

Sue Fencl

Vice President & Director of Support Services

Sue Fencl has been an indispensable member of Legacy’s team since our inception in 2004 and has been instrumental in directing our trust operations and client support services. She is a member of the executive committee that leads our corporate initiatives and helps set policies and procedures throughout the entire organization. Sue has more than 30 years of experience in banking and trust services and holds an associate degree in Business Administration from Florida Junior College in Jacksonville, FL.

Sue enjoys all things that are precious to Wisconsinites: the outdoors, a good fish fry, and an old-fashioned made from scratch. She enjoys her role as a grandmother to the fullest and spends much of her free time taking part in activities with her three grandchildren that have included taking tae kwon do and piano lessons right along with them. Sue spends her summers at a lake home where she still water skis and keeps the campfire stoked for s’mores late into the evening.

Suzanne C. Dennis

Assistant Audit & Compliance Officer

Suzanne Dennis joined Legacy in 2011 as a member of our Trust Operations department and recently moved into Audit & Compliance. She holds both the Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) and Certified Securities Operations Professional (CSOP) designations and has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.

Suzanne and her husband enjoy traveling as well as hiking, golfing, and tennis. When at home, Suzanne spends time volunteering for the Fox Valley Humane Association, as well as doing yoga, reading, and gardening.

Lisa T. Bergan

Senior Client Representative

Lisa joined Legacy in 2010 as a Senior Client Representative. She holds a BS from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and the Certified Trust Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation. Lisa has over 18 years of trust experience and prior to joining Legacy, she worked in the trust department of a regional bank. Lisa is flexible and diligently works on every project that is assigned so that clients’ needs are met quickly and efficiently.

Lisa enjoys the area in which she works. Outside of work, Lisa and her husband take advantage of the area by biking on state trails, and in the spring they enjoy vacationing in Phoenix, Arizona. On lunch breaks in the summer, Lisa can be found outside and walking around the neighborhood surrounding the office. Lisa loves to participate in a variety of activities with her nieces and nephews.

Ranee H. Bahn

Vice President & Audit and Compliance Officer

Ranee Bahn joined the Legacy team as Audit and Compliance Officer in the spring of 2014. Her primary duties are to manage and monitor our internal audit, risk measurements, and compliance processes. She brings more than 18 years of trust experience to further strengthen the Legacy team. Prior to joining Legacy, Ranee had experience as a Client Services Manager, Trust Operations Manager, and Compliance Manager at Wisconsin-based regional banks. Ranee previously completed the requirements of the Personal Trust School at Cannon Financial Institute and has recently obtained her Certified Fiduciary & Investment Risk Specialist (CFIRS) designation.

If Ranee could combine her two favorite pastimes, it would be a book by John Grisham with a plot centered on a soccer team (to her dismay, the closest Grisham has gotten was a book about a former NFL player). She has traveled across the Midwest up, down, and sideways to attend her sons’ soccer games and is now enjoying the downtime provided by their college graduations.

Peter J. Schaefer

Vice President & Trust Investment Officer

Peter Schaefer joined Legacy in 2018 as a Trust Investment Officer and became a Vice President in 2021. He holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural and consumer economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as both the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designations. Peter has over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry working with affluent and emerging clients to provide financial and retirement planning services as well as wealth management.

Peter was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin, and lived in Chicago for over 10 years before moving to Neenah, which explains his affinity for Illinois sports teams.  He and his wife Laura have two sons, Oliver and Mason. In addition to watching football and baseball, Peter enjoys playing golf and traveling to Wyoming to ski and hike. Peter also enjoys volunteering and is a member of The Oshkosh Community Foundation Finance Committee.

Connor R. O’Brien

Trust Investment Officer

Connor O’Brien joined Legacy in 2021 as a Trust Investment Officer. Connor graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison where he studied finance and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation. Prior to joining Legacy, Connor spent 5 years as a portfolio manager for a large regional bank where he assisted clients with asset allocations, tactical portfolio adjustments, and security selection. 

Outside of work, Connor is a lifelong hockey player, and in the winter, you’re likely to find him at an ice rink playing men’s league or pickup hockey. In the summer, you’ll probably find him on the golf course. Connor and his wife also enjoy live music and often attend local music events, such as Mile of Music, as well as concerts from major touring musicians. Recently, Connor and his wife welcomed their first child, and are very excited for this new change in their lives.

Nicole T. Jones

Investment Operations Officer

Nicole Jones joined Legacy in 2008 as a member of the investments department. She obtained her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and now has over 17 years of experience in the industry. 

Nicole is an active volunteer with the Fox Valley Human Society as part of their Reading to Rover program, where therapy dogs make visits to the Boys and Girls Club and local nursing homes. She also participates in various fundraisers for local animal shelters and rescues. 

In her free time, Nicole and her husband love traveling to snorkel, hike, and view wildlife. Most recently, they visited Canada to see polar bears and beluga whales on a safari. Nicole also enjoys walking her two dogs, kickboxing, running and attending spin class to stay active. 

Paul A. Griesbach

Trust Investment Officer

Paul Griesbach joined our investment group in 2015, bringing with him a diverse background including 20 years of investment and finance-related experience. He completed his BBA in at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and holds several investment-related course certificates, most recently from London Financial Studies in modern asset allocation. Paul’s expertise in quantitative research and portfolio risk management contributes greatly to Legacy’s portfolio management team.

A native resident of the Fox Valley, Paul was raised on a family dairy farm and spent his summer vacations working in his grandfather’s water conditioning business. Through these and other experiences, the value of customer care and taking personal ownership was imparted early on. He uses his take-charge attitude to lead the Hortonville boys’ basketball booster club while at the same time serving as a coach for youth basketball teams for over a decade. When Paul, his wife of 21 years, and their two sons aren’t attending a basketball game, they enjoy traveling to places that offer spectacular views of nature such as Niagara Falls and Yellowstone National Park. Paul is also known to be an outdoor enthusiast, spending time in the fall with his family and friends stalking grouse and deer. You can also find him on the range enjoying a round or two of competitive trap shooting.

Nick Carver

Director of Investment Services

As a founding member of Legacy in 2004. Nick Carver has over 30 years of investment management experience and has always played a major role in Legacy’s investment process. He is especially interested in modern portfolio theory and developing concepts in the area of personal finance. Nick graduated from the University of Wisconsin – Madison with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, and subsequently earned his Juris Doctor (JD) from the University of Wisconsin Law School. He also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and was previously president of the CFA Society of Milwaukee. 

Nick has been married to his wife Ruth for 42 years. Together they have 2 adult children and 3 grandchildren. In his free time, Nick is an avid reader and enjoys competitive sailing, cycling, and music. 

Gary L. Schaefer

Business Development Officer

Gary Schaefer joined Legacy in 2019 to assist with the development of our Madison office. Gary has 45 years of experience in the banking industry, including 25 years spent as the President of Associated Bank in Madison. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Eastern Illinois University. 

Outside of work, Gary is very active in many community groups and organizations. He currently serves on the board of both The Oscar Rennebohm Foundation and the United Way of Dane County Foundation. Additionally, he is a past chairman of The Wisconsin Banker’s Association, Edgewood College, and the Madison Community Foundation.

Candy H. Thurs

Vice President

Candy Thurs joined Legacy in 2020 as Vice President North Central Wisconsin. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Auburn University and holds the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA), as well as the Certified Wealth Strategist (CWS®) designations. Candy has over 15 years of experience in the industry and has held several roles in private wealth management.  

Outside of work, Candy is very active in the Wausau community. She is on the board of The Boys & Girls Club of Wausau Area and the United Way of Marathon County and is also a member of Women United and Impact100 Greater Wausau Area.  

Candy and her husband spend their free time watching, and volunteering for the various youth sports their son is involved in, which include baseball, basketball, and football. Candy also enjoys downhill skiing, traveling, and finding ways to volunteer and give back to the community.

Tammy M. Ross

Trust Administrative Officer

Tammy Ross joined Legacy in 2006 as a Trust Administrative Officer and has over 25 years of experience in the industry. 

She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, and her Master of Business Administration from Lakeland University. Tammy is also an honors graduate of the Cannon Financial Institute Retirement Plan Services Program as well as a graduate of the American Bankers Association Trust School. 

Additionally, Tammy holds both the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) and Certified Retirement Plan Professional (CRPP®) designations. Tammy and her husband are both lifelong Neenah residents and have one son in high school. Tammy enjoys live music, attending concerts, and spending time with family at the shooting range.

Lisa G. Kewley

Vice President & Senior Trust and Financial Advisor

Lisa Kewley was a founding member of Legacy at our inception in 2004. She holds a BA from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana and is a graduate of the National Trust School at Northwestern University. Lisa has more than 37 years of experience working with high net worth individuals and families, and currently leads Legacy’s efforts at developing financial initiatives aimed at addressing and serving the needs of women. She is the former president of the Women’s Fund for the Fox Valley Region and still participates in the organization through committee work. Lisa is also the current president of the Over the Teacups women’s group.

Outside of work, Lisa loves traveling to Denver to see her daughter and spending time at home with her goldendoodle Maggie, who occasionally enjoys participating in Lisa’s Zoom meetings. She also enjoys professional tennis as well as kayaking and golf. 

Susan M. Hickey

Vice President & Senior Trust and Financial Advisor

Susan Hickey joined the Oconomowoc Office of Legacy Private Trust Company in October of 2018 as a Vice President and Senior Trust and Financial Advisor. Susan has over 25 years of trust and financial planning experience and is a graduate of Marquette University, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. Susan has been a featured speaker on several estate and financial planning topics and is a Past President of the Milwaukee Estate Planning Forum. She remains an active member of that organization.  

Outside of work, Susan is actively involved in the community. She is currently a board member for both the Saint Joan Antida High School and The Neighborhood House of Milwaukee. She is a former Board Chairperson for the Women’s Fund of Greater Milwaukee and a member of Impact 100 Milwaukee. In addition, Susan enjoys spending time with her family as well as running, reading, and traveling.

Kathleen A. Brost

Trust and Financial Advisor

Kathy Brost joined Legacy in 2016 as a trust and financial advisor, enhancing our client relationship team with a variety of experiences in multiple facets of finance and business operations. She holds a BBA from Lakeland College and a JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Throughout her career, she has continued her education by attaining both the Certified Financial Planner (CFP™) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) designations as well as a real estate brokers license. Kathy spent 12 years as a tax advisor before becoming a corporate counsel. Most recently, Kathy spent more than 10 years in private practice, acting as corporate counsel and directing compliance programs for several fraternal benefit societies across the country. Kathy was the President of the State Bar of Wisconsin from 2020-2021 and is now the Immediate Past President.

A native of the Fox Valley, Kathy enjoys working in her parents’ real estate development and construction firm. Kathy loves to travel and has enjoyed exploring areas in the more remote and obscure parts of the world with her husband. Together they are the parents of two grown children; their daughter is an architectural engineer, and their son is a process engineer. When Kathy is not traveling the world, she enjoys art, gardening, reading, and snorkeling. Kathy also serves on the board of the Bergstrom Mahler Museum of Glass as the Treasurer. 

Brenton D. Teeling

Vice President of Client Services and Administration

Brenton Teeling joined Legacy in 2016 as Vice President of Client Services and Administration. He earned his B.A., magna cum laude, from Loras College, and his J.D., with distinction, from the University of Iowa College of Law. He also holds the Certified Trust and Fiduciary Advisor (CTFA) designation. Prior to joining Legacy, Brenton was a shareholder and civil litigator at the Fox Valley’s largest law firm.  

With nine years of civil litigation experience, Brenton brings a sharp eye and steady hand to issues of problem-solving and achieving positive client outcomes. Brenton’s responsibilities at Legacy include overseeing the Legacy client experience and ensuring that internal controls are in place for effective and secure account management.

In his free time, Brenton enjoys spending time with his family and engaging in athletic pursuits including golf, softball, volleyball, kickball, and cycling. Coming from a long line of coaches, he also enjoys coaching basketball and has been active at St. Mary Catholic High School and with the Zephyr Basketball Club and the YMCA for youth players. Brenton serves on the Board of Directors for United Way Fox Cities and is the 2021-23 Emerging Leaders Committee Chair. In addition, he is a member of the Finance Committees for St. Margaret Mary Parish and North Shore Golf Club and regularly volunteers for other organizations and special events throughout the community.

Joseph E. McGrane

Executive Vice President

Joe McGrane is a founder of Legacy whose expertise has created and sustained our financial planning and administrative processes.

Mr. McGrane holds a BA in Economics from Loras College and a JD from the University of Iowa. He has more than 35 years of trust and investment management experience.

 

Michael B. Mahlik

President

Mike Mahlik is a founder of Legacy and has more than 35 years of extensive experience in trusts, investments, and financial planning.

He holds a BS in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. 

Shoua Thao

Trust Operations Officer

Shoua Thao joined Legacy in 2019 as a Support Services Manager. Prior to joining our team, she was a Mutual Fund Manager at FIS. Shoua obtained her associate degree in Business Administration from Fox Valley Technical College and has 17 years of experience in the financial services industry. 

Outside of work, Shoua loves spending time with her family, particularly when they are taking trips together, going camping, or watching college sports. She is a firm believer in giving back to the community, which has led her to volunteer much of her free time at Appleton East high school
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