Owner & Founder
Todd Knutsen is the owner and founder of Knutsen Financial Group. In 1983 he entered the financial planning industry with a college degree and ambition to build a successful career in the financial industry. After 30 years in the business through multiple market cycles and myriad changes in all areas of the business, investments, insurance, employee benefits, retirement plans, income and estate taxes, experience is his greatest asset. Growing together with clients has been Todd’s greatest reward and what keeps the business interesting and fun.
Todd earned the Chartered Financial Consultant(ChFC®) designation in 1987 and the Chartered life Underwriter (CLU®) in 1989. Todd is and has been continually active and licensed to provide investment and insurance products and advice since he entered the business, always in the capacity of serving clients.
Todd was born and raised in Minnesota and has lived in Woodbury since 1988. He is married to Laura and together they have five children and one grandchild. After years of being involved with kids sports as a parent, coach and spectator, Todd’s hobbies now revolve around spending time with loved ones at the cabin, boating, golfing, hunting, traveling, reading and walking the dog.
Client Service Manager
Nancie has worked for Todd since July 2009 and has become an integral part of his practice assisting in servicing clients and keeping the systems in the office running smoothly. Prior to 2009 Nancie had worked in the retail boat and sporting goods industry as a marketing manager for national brand stores.
Nancie is originally from the ‘show me state’ and is very active in her church and school community in Stillwater where she has resided since 2006 with her husband Chris and daughter Elizabeth.
Chief Investment Officer of Gradient Investments, LLC
In October 2008, Wayne Schmidt joined Gradient Investments, LLC and serves as Chief Investment Officer. With 26 years of investment experience, Wayne brings decades of institutional experience and in-depth knowledge of the private client market to Gradient Investments, and offers a global investment management perspective.
Wayne is an invaluable and direct resource for affiliated investment advisors and their clients. He provides vast wisdom, knowledge, experience and tools to help investment advisors grow their practice, while also growing clients’ assets.
In a nationwide search that included acquisition considerations, AXA Investment Managers, a subsidiary of the European insurance giant AXA Group, handpicked Wayne to build their U.S investment grade fixed income capabilities and to lead a seasoned portfolio team located in St. Paul, Minnesota.
During his tenure at AXA Investment Managers, Wayne served as senior portfolio manager for the U.S. Investment Grade Fixed Income Team. As the lead portfolio manager, he managed $9.5 billion of fixed income assets with a variety of mandates ranging from aggregate, corporate and government bond portfolios.
Before joining AXA Investment Managers, Wayne dedicated over 20 years to Minnesota Life and its’ $14 billion investment arm, Advantus Capital Management. As portfolio manager, he managed a variety of high-grade funds as part of Advantus’s $1.8 billion Total Return Product for institutional and retail clients. He also served as the lead portfolio manager of the Advantus Bond Fund and the co-portfolio manager of the Advantus Spectrum Fund.
Wayne earned his Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Minnesota and a Bachelor of Science from Cornell University. He is a Chartered Financial Analyst® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.
Over the years, Wayne has been quoted on the global economy in numerous nationally and internationally recognized investment publications such as: Bloomberg, Pension & Investments, Reuters, The Los Angeles Times, Financial Week (2008 Neal Award Winner), Asia Times, InvestorVillage, Safehaven, SFO, Credit Investment News and RGE Monitor (Nouriel Roubini’s Global EconoMonitorinvestment). He has also provided market insights on Bloomberg radio and television.
Wayne’s love of Minnesota is Gradient Investments’ great fortune, as he declined to relocate with AXA Investment Managers following their strategic decision to consolidate function into the high-yield operation in Greenwich, Connecticut.
Senior Portfolio Manager of Gradient Investments, LLC
Michael Binger, CFA®, serves as the senior portfolio manager for Gradient Investments, LLC. Binger brings over 24 years of institutional equity investment experience to Gradient Investments and its affiliated advisors and clients. He has extensive experience working directly with financial advisors designing and actively managing portfolios. Binger has successfully invested in numerous market and economic cycles giving him a level and depth of experience that is rare in this industry.
Binger started his investment career in Minneapolis, Minnesota with Lutheran Brotherhood in 1987 and gained experience managing assets in a variety of asset classes including convertible bonds, small cap equities, and large cap equities. When Lutheran Brotherhood and Aid Association for Lutherans merged in 2001 to become Thrivent Financial, Binger was selected to work as the senior portfolio manager on the Large Cap Growth team and Large Cap Alpha Team managing over $3 billion in assets. As the senior portfolio manager, he developed and oversaw the tactical investment strategies utilized within mutual funds, variable annuities, pension funds and insurance company products. These investment processes included proprietary portfolio construction strategies, security selection parameters and volatility controlled umbrellas.
Binger graduated from the University of Minnesota earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration-Finance. He graduated with honors and was the University of Minnesota’s “Wall Street Journal Award Winner.” Binger is a CFA® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.
Binger’s media highlights include numerous appearances, providing market insight on CNBC, Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg Radio. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, Smart Money, Reuters, Business Week and numerous other local, national, and global investment publications.