Faces Of Fargo Business: Tom Stadum

Written by: Brady Drake

Photo By Hilary Ehlen

First Vice President – Wealth Management at The Stadum Group at UBS

I am a third-generation wealth advisor located in downtown Fargo. My family has been serving families, businesses and non-profits across the US with our wealth management services since 1961. I am happily married to my high school sweetheart Camila, I’m father to Lucy and I’m a dog dad to Pancake and Buzz. I sit on the board of Burning Hearts Church as well as the Pelican Lake Yacht Club.

A day in the life of Tom Stadum:
My team and I have a lot of “mini days” within a workday. Typically, we read for the first hour to stay up to speed on the economy, financial markets, geopolitics, local news, startups, public companies and the wealth management industry. We then have a short team meeting to tee up the day. Then come the meetings, phone calls and investment management. Once the markets close, we spend time working on marketing our business, compliance and team development.

What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Though I can’t think of a single instance of terrible advice I’ve received professionally, other than the occasional terrible market predictions from TV pundits, generally speaking, I think the worst advice is oftentimes what isn’t said when something needs to be said. It is so critical to communicate clearly and truthfully in all situations and humbly serve those around you, above or below you on the org charts.

What keeps you up at night?
The speed of the markets, regulations, information and technology. While Google, nonstop news, social media and technology have made the world better in many regards, the speed in which things change means we must be all the more prepared to change faster with the times and successfully lead our clients as their advisors.

Ted would you give a TED Talk on?
Given that TED talks should be about ideas worth sharing, I can’t think of a greater message, personally, than the importance of being a good dad. My daughter may be the fourth-generation Stadum family member in our business and showing her the importance of treating people right will not only benefit our clients and their kids and grandkids, but also our greater community for generations to come.

How does the reality of your job differ from people’s perception of it?
I don’t think people fully understand the depth and breadth of what we do for our clients. Most people think we offer investment management services and prepare financial plans, which we do, but a lot of life happens between the first meeting and the later years of life. We have a unique seat at the table and have the privilege of walking with our clients through the high highs and the low lows that their lives bring.

What’s one the local business community could do to help you/your organization?
Aside from serving our clients, we have a passion for educating our community on financial matters. We currently work with pretty much every generation that is alive and love to share our knowledge and experience in helping those successful families build, protect and grow their assets. We host many educational events throughout the year and would love to see more community members there. Check our website, financialservicesinc.ubs.com/team/stadumgroup/index.html, for dates and times.

If you could think of one person who’ contributed to your success, who would it be and why?
My father. He’s the one that built on my grandfather’s legacy and passed the baton off to me. Without his patience, support and wisdom, neither I, nor the families we serve, would be where we are at today.

Do you have any media recommendations?
According to Warren Buffett, Knowledge grows exponentially over time, similar to compounding interest, and needs to be mixed with wisdom and experience to be most useful. With that, I would encourage our community to simply read more every week versus making any specific recommendation. I read most major newspapers daily.

What’s your “why”?
I am truly most passionate about people and simply working as a wealth manager. I love to serve families and tangibly impact their lives, in good times and not so good, through my role as their advisor. I’ve had heartbreaking conversations over the loss of loved ones. I’ve shared in the joy of celebrating retirements, new grandbabies, dream vacations and successful transitions of businesses. It’s the human element that drives me and makes me excited to go to work every day.

What part of your job would you “easy button”, if you could?
Trading. With the size of our practice, trading is complex and families’ balance sheets and needs are unique. An easy button would be great in this area.

What’s one characteristic you believe every great leader should possess?
Humility – we all need great leaders in our lives and humility in leadership keeps one grounded and focused on what is important and allows the team to clearly see the roadmap ahead. It enables others to become leaders themselves and creates a sense of community where everyone is empowered to make great decisions without unreasonable recourse if they turn out to be wrong.

What’s one way to foster creativity within your organization?
Marshall Goldsmith once said, “what got you here won’t get you there.” Given the rapid pace of our world, creativity is extremely important to my role as an advisor. What worked in the past may not work in the future for our families. With that being said, we are very thoughtful in understanding how things work and how we work. We spend a lot of time reading, studying and thinking about how families operate. We think about how we are spending our time, how the world works, how the financial markets move, etc.. Without an understanding of the “how”, people oftentimes won’t see the path forward and will, unfortunately, find themselves spinning their wheels.

Who’s a leader you’re studying or paying attention to right now?
Ben Thompson of Stratechery. He has a great perspective on the hyperscale companies and their huge success in the marketplace.

What’s a local/state resource your organization has utilized recently?
We’ve had a number of our charitably inclined clients utilize the ND state tax credits available for philanthropic giving. I’d highly recommend speaking with your CPA on these unique incentives the State offers. 

Tom Stadum
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Brady is the Editorial Director at Spotlight Media in Fargo, ND.