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posted: 5/8/2017 1:00 AM

Coffee Break: Brent R. Brodeski, chairman & CEO of Savant Capital Management

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Q: Describe your company.

A: Savant is a nationally recognized, fee-only, independent wealth management firm. Our vision is to build ideal futures for our clients, our team and the communities we serve. We help our clients align their assets, strategies and structures with what is important to them and their families. This includes developing and implementing comprehensive financial and estate plans, managing investments, preparing client tax returns and providing trust, accounting and family office services.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: We plan to hire about 15 more people in 2017. In addition, we plan on doing 1-2 acquisitions in the Chicago area that will further increase our Chicagoland presence.

Q: What will your company's main challenges be in the next year?

A: We recently hit $5 billion in assets under management, brought in outside "patient capital" partners and also expanded employee ownership from 19 to 47 (to provide growth capital and to provide the funding required to retire Savant's co-founder). We believe we can grow to 15BB or more in the next 5-7 years. Doing so will require us to think big, evolve our leadership team, and invest in a more scalable technology to support our growth. Personally, I continue to spend time learning about how to be a great CEO and focus my time on matters that make the most difference to our team and clients.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: Our industry is very cottage. There are about 20,000 registered investment advisers. Most are fairly small. The typical owner is 60 years old and lacks a succession plan. To date, we have acquired 5 such firms, resolved their succession needs, allowed them to monetize and diversify their advisory practice, and given them an opportunity to be part of something bigger. We look forward to doing more transactions in Chicagoland, Wisconsin and the Washington DC.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie CEO, what would it be?

A: Remain humble, get a mentor and never stop learning. Eyes are on you, on what you do, and on what you fail to do.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: Build ideal futures for our clients, our team and the communities we serve.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: I pay a lot of attention to Jeremy Siegel. He is the author for "Stocks for the Long-Run." He always seems to hit the mark regarding financial markets. In addition, we recently put together a "rock star" outside board of directors. They have already been incredibly helpful in helping us think strategically about our business and our myriad opportunities.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: I was recently named one of the top 17 people to watch in our industry in 2017 by Financial Planning Magazine. We were the only traditional investment advisory firm on the list. Other people on the list included Janet Yellen, the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and the CEO's of Fidelity, Wells Fargo, FINRA, LPL Financial and Betterment. Good company!

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: Spending time boating with my family at our summer home in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Two other passions include drinking wine and collecting French Art Nouveau posters from 1893-1910.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: "The Ideal Team Player" by Patrick Lencioni.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: The other career I considered was architecture. I have an artistic side and am also very analytical. So, if I were not a financial adviser, maybe I would be designing skyscrapers!

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: I was a butcher's assistant at the local grocery. My job was to clean up the blood and trimmings after the butchers left for the day. I also learned how to package meat, make sausage, sell fish and cut up chickens.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: I am a bit odd because I don't watch sports. But I am super competitive. I tell people I love the "sport of business." So, I would put Savant's name on a business school that would train the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Q: What is one funny thing that has happened to you in your career?

A: Early in my career I got fired and no one would give me a job. So, I co-founded Savant. It was traumatic, but I laugh about it now. Guess I'm glad I got fired.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why.

A: I am still in the stone age because aside from reading President Trump's always interesting tweets (second hand in the media), I still don't do Twitter.