Slowing Inflation Offers Hope For 2023

Murphy’s Law played out dramatically last year, as virtually anything that could go wrong seemingly did. The pandemic morphed into a new variant; Russia’s invasion of Ukraine ignited a spike in energy, food, and other commodity prices that reinforced the worst inflation outbreak in 40 years; monetary policy embarked on the most aggressive rate-hiking campaign since the early 1980s, and the stock market suffered its worst performance since the Great Recession; the bond market fared even worse, enduring the most severe setback on record. Against this backdrop, all we can say is “good riddance” to 2022 and hope for a better 2023.

That said, it’s hard to be too optimistic about the economic outlook for this year. For one, a recession may be in the cards. Indeed, the consensus of economists believes that the economy will enter a downturn beginning late this spring or summer. Even the Federal Reserve is implicitly signaling that one will occur. In its mid-December policy meeting, the Fed predicted that the unemployment rate would rise to 4.6 percent this year from the current 3.5 percent. A rise of that magnitude has never occurred outside of a recession. What’s more, there are still plenty of things that can still go wrong. Geopolitical tensions could escalate, problems with supply could persist, and inflation could remain stubbornly high, to name just three. More immediately, political brinkmanship could lead to a confidence-shattering debt crisis.

But there are also reasons to view the year ahead more positively. If it does occur, a recession should be mild and help correct the imbalances that contributed to the inflation outbreak. Notably, the economy was remarkably resilient despite the myriad shocks that buffeted the nation last year. True, GDP contracted over the first two quarters, which fits the traditional definition of a recession. But jobs continued to be created at a breakneck pace, so it didn’t feel like a recession. Importantly, the new year is beginning with some bright spots; jobs are still plentiful, and inflation has apparently peaked, lessening pressure on the Federal Reserve to step even harder on the monetary brakes. Despite all the challenges ahead, we view the economic glass as more half full than half empty, which is another way of saying we are cautiously optimistic about 2023.

Reasons for Optimism

Each month, it is becoming increasingly apparent that the inflation peak is in the rear-view mirror. The Consumer Price Index increased 6.5 percent from a year ago in December, down sharply from 9.1 percent in June. Excluding volatile food and energy items, the so-called core CPI slowed noticeably to 5.7 percent from 6.6 percent. Both gauges still run well ahead of the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent target, but a manageable resting point is within reach. Indeed, over the past three months, the CPI has increased at an annual rate of 2.65 percent.

The faster inflation recedes, the less pressure there is on the Federal Reserve to keep its foot on the monetary brakes. As much as anything, this prospect gives hope that the Fed can bring about a soft landing, i.e., taming inflation without inducing a recession. As it is, Fed officials are already pulling back a bit. The half-point rate hike at the December policy meeting was a step down from the three-quarter point increases in each of the four previous meetings. The next session that concludes on February 1 is again widely expected to yield a minor increase, this time by a quarter-point.

The tilt to a more gradual rate increase rate no doubt received a boost from the recent benign inflation readings. But some Fed officials also think a less aggressive rate-hiking campaign is warranted because it gives them time to assess the impact of previous rate increases on the economy. It’s important to remember that monetary policy affects the economy with long and variable lags. The cumulative 4.25 percentage point increase in 2022 is still working through the spending stream. The deep erosion in housing activity and plunge in auto sales is a stark indication of how much damage can be wrought by an abrupt and steep increase in interest rates. The fact that some Fed officials publicly recognize this sentiment is a hopeful sign that policymakers will not go overboard in their inflation-fighting effort and send the economy into a deeper tailspin than necessary.

Making Sense of Consumer Pullback

While the economy staged a respectable increase in GDP in the fourth quarter, it was losing momentum as 2022 drew to a close. Most of the gain occurred when consumers opened their wallets wide for goods that retailers deeply discounted to unload unwanted inventories. After that spending spree in October, households pulled back sharply, lowering retail sales in November and December. Overall, the holiday shopping season was a big disappointment.

But it would be a mistake to overemphasize the setback in retail sales, almost all of which are for goods. The demand for physical goods surged throughout the pandemic when people were shut in their homes. Purchases of home furnishings, appliances, gym equipment, new TVs, and other products that enhanced the home-life experience flew out of stores as quickly as they arrived. The spike in demand, nourished intensely by generous government stimulus payments, collided with supply shortages, sparking the inflation outbreak that has become the economy’s main scourge.

But by last summer, supply–chain snarls had eased up, and companies with substantial unfilled orders were suddenly swamped with goods just as the pent-up demand of households had dried up. With the pandemic’s grip waning, people fled the confines of their homes. They flocked to companies that offered experiences – travel, entertainment, sporting events, and the like – diverting less of their budgets to goods and more to services. Simply put, the weakness in retail sales in recent months reflects shifting consumer buying preferences as much as a pullback in overall demand.

Still Fuel in the Tank

Since consumers account for 70 percent of total economic activity, their willingness to spend will go a long way toward determining how well the economy can withstand the headwinds of higher interest rates and inflation this year. On this score, there is both good and bad news. The good news is that consumers still have some firepower to keep their wallets open. The most significant tailwind at their backs is the still healthy job market. Job growth is undoubtedly slowing from the breakneck pace seen over the two years the economy rebounded from the pandemic-induced recession in the spring of 2020. But job creation in the final months of 2022 was still far more robust than before the pandemic.

With the cutback in consumer goods spending, which has spilled over to less factory production, the slowdown in job growth will no doubt continue. But at least over the next several months, it’s unlikely that employment will contract. Some industries, most notably the tech sector, are shedding an eye-opening number of workers. But these job losers are being snapped up by other firms that can use their skills, so overall joblessness has remained contained. Indeed, applications for unemployment benefits were still near historic lows in January. As long as payroll growth is still positive and lifting aggregate wages and salaries, households will have formidable financial support to keep spending.

The bad news is that wage growth is not keeping up with inflation, and the pandemic-era buildup of savings that filled the gap is vanishing. That’s particularly the case for lower-and middle-income households who devote a larger share of their paychecks to food, rent, and other essentials whose prices have increased faster than on discretionary goods and services. And while jobs are still growing, companies are cutting back employee hours, erasing some of the income gains workers derive from expanding paychecks. The loss of purchasing power amid a still-tight labor market indicates that workers will demand more significant raises if they can, sustaining pressure on employers to cover costs by raising prices. This prospect keeps the Federal Reserve up at night as the fear of a classic wage-price spiral fueling inflation lurks in the background. It also strengthens the hand of the monetary hawks that favor steeper rate increases to short-circuit that spiral.

Cloudy Crystal Ball

Since the Fed sees labor costs as the main driving force sustaining inflation, it will keep raising rates until there is clear evidence that the job market is cooling off. Which metrics they are looking at needs to be clarified. Ideally, wage growth of 3 -3 ½ percent combined with productivity growth of 1 ½ percent would be consistent with a 2 percent inflation rate – the Fed’s target over time. Neither of those yardsticks is being met; according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s wage tracker, wages are rising at a 6 percent rate, and productivity has declined by more than 1 percent over the past year. The Fed’s preferred measure of labor costs, the Employment Cost Index, has increased by 5.3 percent in last year’s third quarter from a year earlier.

The Fed hopes wages will slow if companies continue to rein in hiring, reducing the gap between the demand and supply of workers. There is a wide cushion to deflate for that to happen, as job openings are 1.7 times larger than unemployed workers, well above the prepandemic peak of 1.2. The other way the gap can close is to get more workers off the sidelines, thus increasing the labor supply. But here, too, the task is daunting as the labor force participation rate, at 62.2 percent, is an entire percentage point below its prepandemic peak. If the rate rose to that peak, 2.6 million additional workers would be vying for jobs.

Simply put, it’s easy to cherry-pick data to support an optimistic or pessimistic view of the outlook. Sectors that are energy intensive and sensitive to higher interest rates face tough times in 2022 and still faced a bumpy road ahead. But other sectors rebounded strongly and continue to fare well as spending reorients back to services. The billion-dollar question is whether the resilience of the latter group will last or whether the weakness in the poorly performing sectors, such as housing and tech, will spread. While some slowdown in the stronger group is expected, the fact that inflation is receding, policy tightening is nearing an end, and there are no glaring imbalances in the economy suggests that a looming recession that everyone predicts will be mild. Indeed, if inflation recedes more quickly than the Fed expects, it’s possible that the U.S. can avoid a recession entirely.

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 connect@lptrust.com.

The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or advice. Any opinions are those of Legacy Private Trust Company only and represent our current analysis and judgment and are subject to change. Actual results, performance, or events may differ based on changing circumstances. No statements contained herein constitute any type of guarantee, nor are they a substitute for professional legal, tax, or other specialized advice. 

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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

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

Vice President & 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

Senior Analyst & Portfolio Manager

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
.