President & CEO
Annex Wealth Management
Location: Waukesha County, WI
Industry: Financial Services
Dave Spano recalls a financial industry sales meeting years ago when the bosses called the top salesperson to the stage, then rolled out a wheelbarrow filled with cash as a reward. Those in attendance launched into applause, but Spano had broader thoughts. If sales and sales quotas are the end goal for financial professionals, is that going to do right by the customer? How would someone exercise restraint when a client doesn’t, in fact, need to buy a financial service or product?
Those thoughts were the impetus for what would become Annex Wealth Management, the company founded in 2001 and built on fiduciary care that Spano runs as CEO and president.
Annex’s assets under management tripled in just over three years, while client surveys showed over 98% of clients expressed satisfaction with Annex. The current plan is to organically reach $10 billion in assets under management while still seeking inorganic growth opportunities to build and extend the company’s brand.
“As we continue to meet our aggressive goals of growth to reach $10 billion in assets under management by 2025, we’re blazing a path that draws attention to a team approach, fee-only fiduciary care, and a real commitment to education and information,” Spano said. “What we’ve seen through time is that other firms around us and even some much further away are paying attention to our approach, which is exciting.”
The firm has forged a niche in the way it communicates with clients and other industry professionals. It produces four weekly radio programs, two podcasts and two podcasts that are streaming versions of radio programs, two live radio shows and three weekly newsletter emails and maintains a growing YouTube channel.
Spano has served as chairman of the board of the Financial Planning Association of Southern Wisconsin and president of the Italian Community Center, Festa Italiana and the United Ethnic Festivals. He has been on the boards of Milwaukee’s International Music Festival, Summerfest, Lakeshore State Park, The Historic Third Ward and the Miller Park Stadium Board. He is chairman of the Annex Charitable Foundation, which has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to deserving charities in the community.
“I think Steve Jobs said it best: ‘Hire smart people. Then let them tell you what to do.’ Packed into those 11 words are instructions for work culture, personal and professional interaction and communication,” Spano said. “At Annex, our team approach intimates that one person doesn’t have the knowledge or bandwidth to handle all financial planning, investment, relationship-building tasks. The industry’s demands are not static; they evolve and get more complex through time. That’s why hiring smart people is so critical. I may be the leader in terms of communication, goals and level of service, but I need intelligent people to execute on our vision.”
Dave Spano is an avid hunter and fisherman. He loves catching muskie at his cabin in northern Wisconsin.