Will This Time Be Different? July 2023

Contrary to revised expectations – and robust economic data – the business cycle has not been repealed. Yes, Virginia, a recession may be coming. But, like waiting for Godot, it is taking an awfully long time to arrive. If and when it does, its shape may look different, more like a mini-recession than an outright downturn. This would be akin to a soft landing – a mild slide in output accompanied by modest job losses. But suppose the weakness is pervasive and lasts more than a few months. In that case, it will nonetheless be labeled a recession by the National Bureau of Economic Research, the unofficial arbiter of when a business cycle starts and ends.

But what’s in a name? If such a Goldilocks outcome materializes and inflation is brought to heel, the Federal Reserve will gladly take it. Indeed, policymakers have been scratching their heads for some time over why the economy hasn’t yet succumbed to the most aggressive rate-hiking campaign since the 1980s aimed at taming inflation. Following more than 500 basis points of rate increases since March of last year, the economy’s growth engine has sputtered but not stalled. In fact, growth was revised significantly in the first quarter of this year – from 1.3% to 2.0%– and the preliminary look at second quarter GDP, released in late July, showed growth continued at an annualized pace of 2.4%.

While many fret that the economy is undergoing a Wile E Coyote moment – suspended in thin air and poised for a sudden and steep drop – the skeptics of the economy’s staying power are losing advocates. Earlier this year, particularly after the banking turmoil that saw the collapse of some regional banks, expectations that a recession was just around the corner ran high. Investors priced in a near 100% chance of a downturn this year, and the consensus of economists was equally convinced it would occur. Now, not so much. One reason: inflation is receding more rapidly than thought, even as the economy’s underpinnings, most notably the job market, retain considerable firepower. To many, that means the Fed can ease up on the monetary brakes, removing one headwind that is the most likely to push the economy over the cliff. Is this wishful thinking? We’ll see. It would be a historic breakthrough for monetary policy, which has usually overshot the mark in its quest to rein in inflation. But it’s also rare to see a sustained decline in inflation amid a historically tight labor market and sturdy growth. We are rooting for Goldilocks but still fear the wolf.

Still Chugging Along

Earlier in the year, most thought the economy would be on the cusp of, if not in, a recession by now. Clearly, it is not. Despite the runup in borrowing costs engineered by the Federal Reserve, tougher lending standards enforced by banks since the 9-day turmoil in March, and, until recently, slumping household confidence, consumer spending has kept the economy afloat. Retail sales did slow in June to a slim 0.2% gain, but from a robust 0.5% increase in May, that was revised up from an initial estimate of 0.3%. The bad news is that inflation rose by the same amount, so real purchases were unchanged. The good news is that the higher prices did not discourage spending, as consumers had the wherewithal to purchase the more expensive goods. At the same time, the savings rate increased to the highest level over a year, indicating that consumer incomes, not credit growth, supplement spending.

With most data for June now in the books, the economy has recorded a decent growth rate of 2.4% in the second quarter, following the 2% pace in the first. That not only puts it above recessionary waters, but it’s also about equal to the average growth rate during the ten-year pre-pandemic expansion. Does the stubborn resilience of the economy mean that the Fed’s aggressive rate hikes failed to do the job? Not if you look at the main objective of its mission – bringing down inflation. In fact, you could say it is ahead of schedule. It took 16 months for inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, to surge from under 3% to over 9%, but only 12 months to drop from over 9% back to under 3%.

Of course, this dramatic turnaround does not truly describe what happened to inflation, as the headline boomerang masks stickier prices for many of the goods and services people buy. Economists and policymakers like to exclude items whose prices are volatile to understand the underlying inflation trend better. This exercise paints an improving but less impressive disinflationary picture. The so-called core CPI, which excludes food and energy items, slowed to 4.8% in June from a peak of 6.6% last September, and prices for services, which are still in heavy demand, are rising at a 6.5% annual rate, down from an 8% peak in January.

More Work To Do

While inflation measures are improving, they are all still well above the Fed’s 2% target, suggesting that the central bank has more work to do to finish the job. Many feel that the easy pickings are over and the last mile to the finish line will be a much harder slog. That’s particularly so if the economy remains as muscular and generates hefty wage increases that businesses are pressured to pass on to consumers. But this may be a simplistic way of looking at the issue. After all, inflation has steadily receded even as the economy grew amid a historically tight job market. Why take away the champagne if the party is keeping everyone happy?

That, of course, is where the rubber meets the road. The Fed understandably believes that inflation fell despite that unforgiving backdrop because the special pandemic-era forces that propelled prices higher have unwound and punctured the inflation balloon. Supply bottlenecks that created product shortages have mostly cleared, the energy price spike from the Ukraine war shock has unwound, and the lockdown-related surge in demand for goods has ebbed as the economy reopened, prodding consumers to shift buying preferences away from physical goods to experiences. The normalization of consumer spending is still underway.

Hence, the Fed is now striving to correct traditional demand and supply imbalances they believe are keeping a floor under inflation. Most notably, they want to tame demand to bring it more in line with the economy’s output potential and to restrain job growth to bring it more in balance with the increase in labor supply. The two, of course, go hand-in-hand. By curbing demand, business revenues would suffer, and employers would likely respond by reducing labor costs – the largest expense on most balance sheets – through reduced hiring. As the job market turns weaker, so would worker bargaining positions, curbing wage demands and the pressure on employers to raise prices.

Misplaced Target?

But the argument that sustaining the disinflationary trend requires more policy tightening to squeeze businesses and labor is not overly compelling. True, rising wages put pressure on employers to raise prices. This is most evident in the service sector, which is more labor-intensive than the goods sector, which can rely more on productivity to offset labor costs. A barber can only cut one head of hair at a time, but a new machine in a factory equipped with the latest technology can increase a worker’s output — or replace the worker. (Although the actors’ strike was stoked by fears that AI replicating the image of an actor may soon do the same in the service sector).

But it’s unclear how much blame for inflation should be attributed to labor costs. It is true that wage gains have finally caught up with inflation, at least by one measure of average hourly earnings compiled by the Labor Department. But rather than raising inflation – the causal input that the Fed worries about – worker pay has lagged inflation for more than two years, the longest stretch in which workers lost purchasing power since the late 1980s. That was also the last time the Federal Reserve lifted its policy rate into double digits to tame inflation and check inflation expectations by workers.

Workers have not increased wage demands this time in anticipation of higher inflation but to make up for more than two years of lost purchasing power. In fact, inflation expectations have remained well anchored throughout, so it is fair to say that wages have followed inflation, not the other way around. Hence, as inflation gradually recurs, so will wage gains, hopefully at the same or slower pace so that workers would retain the purchasing power they recaptured. Not only would a recession induced by overly restrictive Fed policy throw millions of workers out of jobs – and reverse the pay gains they achieved – it would primarily victimize lower-paid jobholders and undo the reduction in income inequality brought on by a robust job market.

Lots Of Drag In The Pipelines

When the Fed decided to keep rates steady at their June policy meeting following ten consecutive increases, they did so partly to assess past rate hikes’ impact. In the month since then, not much has changed with the economy as job growth and consumer spending have both held up well. While headline inflation, as noted, has fallen significantly, prices on a broad list of services have remained sticky. As a result, the Fed again raised rates at their July 25-26 policy meeting.

At the same time, many expect the increase to be the last of the tightening cycle, underpinning the growing sentiment that the economy can avoid a recession. A move to the sidelines would undoubtedly increase the odds that the economy can stay afloat. We fear, however, that there is enough tightening in the pipeline that eventually will push the economy into a downturn. It’s important to remember that monetary policy affects the economy with long and variable lags, and the lagged impact has yet to play out. Most of the strong data the Fed is looking at is either backward-looking or driven by forces that are poised to weaken.

Indeed, a host of time-honored leading indicators are pointing to a recession, including the Conference Board’s leading economic index, a deeply inverted yield curve, and low consumer expectations of economic conditions and buying plans. Home sales, which are always the first to succumb to a recession, are being clobbered by high mortgage rates. Some believe “this time will be different” because of the unusual pandemic-related forces behind the current business cycle. That reasoning has been invoked many times in the past but has never worked out. Recessions come and go for various reasons, and it is hard to believe this time will be any different.

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
.