Chad Carlson CFP®, CFA®

President & Co-CIO

What inspired you to choose wealth management as a career?

My dad worked for an insurance company from graduation until retirement. If you asked him what he would change if he did it all over again, he would choose to be a wealth manager.  This came across in the way I grew up.  Financial discussions were part of many decisions.  Instead of telling me to save/invest, he provided a $200 gift one year to pick a stock, any stock, and track it with him.  This type of approach really ingrained in me how much financial decisions interact with nearly all elements of life.

What do you enjoy most about your role at BDF?

I truly love being able to go from 30,000 feet up all the way down to the ground.  With my Investment Committee role, we may have two-hour debates about some very detailed parts of the portfolio.  We know the ins and the outs of every nook and cranny of our recommendations.  But, in talking with clients, the communication changes from what is important to the IC, to what is truly important for them to know and understand in order to do our best in helping them achieve financial success.

What do your clients appreciate most about you?

I think our clients appreciate my ability to keep the big picture in mind.  With finances, there are so many details that you can get lost in.  What I hope to do is be able to bring people back to truly focus on what matters most and how this all ties together.

What is the one thing you wish every person knew when making financial decisions?

I wish every person knew, and recognized, that financial decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.  There is either a domino effect where one decision impacts another, or other people making the decision at the exact same time that changes the circumstances.  All these get to the need to back up, think about your whole financial picture, and assess from there.

What defines your own personal “full life”?

My full life starts and ends with my family.  My goal, along with my incredible wife, Maggie, is to raise our four beautiful daughters to always be additive to those around them.  We want to create a family that brings about good in our house, with our families, with our friends, and in our community. My full life is making sure every moment spent with them is building them up to be a better and better person tomorrow, and recognizing that today is fleeting. So enjoy the moments, latch onto the memories, and smile, even if there are seventeen activities to run to today!

Full Bio

Chad learned the value of diversification and investment strategy at a young age. As a teenager, his father gave him $200 to invest. He chose one particular stock, only to see the company go bankrupt and his investment dwindle to nothing. “I learned that you can’t just pick securities because they have an interesting product; it’s more about what is behind an investment. And I learned that diversification is best.”

That early lesson stuck with him. As Director of Research and a member of BDF’s seven-person Investment Committee, Chad dedicates a large portion of his time to overseeing and improving the firm’s investment research methodology, with the ultimate goal of determining the best way forward to meet each clients’ financial goals.

As part of this research, Chad watches developing trends in the industry to determine if they warrant consideration for a change to BDF portfolios, always keeping in mind BDF’s philosophy of utilizing transparent, tax-efficient and low-cost options.

Recognizing that comprehensive financial planning is the foundation of a strong investment strategy, Chad led the formation of BDF’s Financial Planning Committee, which evaluates the implication of new regulations and oversees the quality of financial planning for all clients.

Chad believes in taking a “first things first” approach to financial planning, learning upfront about the client’s goals and dreams, and tailoring financial solutions to make those dreams come true. As a wealth manager, Chad wants to shoulder the burden of financial worries so his clients can focus on what matters most to them. “If the market is down or an estate planning change is coming, I want them to know that we will figure out whether it is an issue for them and how to work with it.”

Before joining BDF, Chad spent two years with Goldman Sachs’ private wealth management subsidiary, Ayco Company LP. Performing personal financial planning and preparing personal and trust tax returns for Fortune 500 executives gave him insight into estate planning, corporate benefits, and tax planning.

Chad stays on top of trends in investment strategy by attending conferences by organizations such as CFA Institute, Morningstar, Schwab, JP Morgan, PIMCO, AQR Capital Management, Dimensional Fund Advisors, Vanguard, and Blackrock. He also writes detailed analyses of the firm’s portfolio structure ranging from internal research papers to articles for publication and dissemination to clients. He has also been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Financial Times, CNBC, LA Times, Smart Money, Dow Jones Newswires, Business Insider, and Investment News and is a frequent presenter on all things related to the markets.

A Certified Financial Planner™ professional and a Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder, Chad is a member of the Financial Planning Association and a member of the leadership team for his church, Bethlehem Lutheran in St. Charles, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Valparaiso University.

If you’re looking for a well-rounded wealth manager with an in-depth knowledge of investment strategy, call Chad.