Cooper Financial Investments, LLC offers professional money management through various third-party money managers. One of our strategic alliances is with Gradient Investments, LLC (GI). GI is an SEC registered investment advisor firm offering clients over 20 proprietary portfolios. The portfolios are managed by their Chief Investment Officer, Wayne Schmidt CFA, MBA; Senior Portfolio Manager, Michael Binger, CFA; and Senior Investment Analyst, Mariann Montagne, CFA.

These three industry leaders now offer our clients their combined experience. Schmidt brings 30 years of institutional investment experience to the private clients of Gradient Investments. Binger brings over 24 years of institutional equity investment experience to Gradient Investments and its affiliated advisors and clients. Montagne has 20 plus years of working with both institutional and high net worth clients and has amassed a strong breadth of investment experience in her tenure. In addition, Schmidt, Binger and Montagne are regular contributors to CNBC, Fox Business, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal and have many other national publications.

Whether your financial goal is preserving principal, maximizing income or accumulating capital, our third-party money managers have carefully designed a strategy to help you achieve your long-term financial goals.

Michael Binger, CFA®
President of Gradient Investments, LLC

Michael Binger, CFA®, serves as the senior portfolio manager for Gradient Investments, LLC. Michael 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.

Michael started his investment career in Minneapolis 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, Michael 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.

Michael 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.” Michael is a CFA® and a member of The Chartered Financial Analyst Institute and the Twin Cities Society of Security Analysts.

Michael’s media highlights include 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.


Wayne Schmidt, CFA®
Chief Investment Officer of Gradient Investments, LLC

In October 2008, Wayne Schmidt joined Gradient Investments, LLC to serve as chief investment officer. Boasting over 30 years in the financial industry, Schmidt brings invaluable institutional experience and in-depth knowledge of the private client market to Gradient Investments, and offers a global investment management perspective.

Wayne is an essential and direct resource for affiliated investment advisors and their clients. He provides vast wisdom, knowledge and tools to help investment advisors both grow their practices and their 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 Saint Paul.

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 their 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 EconoMonitor investment). He has also provided market insights on Bloomberg Radio and Bloomberg TV.

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 a high-yield operation in Greenwich, Connecticut.


Mariann Montagne, CFA®
Senior Investment Analyst of Gradient Investments, LLC

Mariann Montagne, CFA® serves as a senior investment analyst for Gradient Investments, LLC. She has 20 plus years of experience working with both institutional and high net worth clients, and has amassed a strong breadth of investment experience during her tenure. This includes company and industry sector analysis, risk monitoring and portfolio management in both the equity and fixed income markets. She is highly attuned to economic and market conditions, and has extensive experience selecting individual stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

Prior to joining Gradient Investments, she was the senior investment analyst and co-portfolio manager for a Minneapolis-based registered investment advisor with over $500 million in assets under management. Montagne was involved in security selection, portfolio management, client presentations and setting strategic direction for the investment department. Her coverage included individual securities, ETFs and mutual funds in the equity, fixed income and alternative asset classes. Prior to that, she was a senior investment analyst at Thrivent Asset Management, examining industry sectors and selecting individual equities. Montagne also spent several years at Munder Capital Management as the assistant director of research along with covering growth and value equities.

Montagne served for seven years on the Global Board of the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY), including posts as president and conference chair.

She is a Chartered Financial AnalystTM and a member of both the CFA Society of Minnesota and the CFA Institute. Montagne is an alumnus of the University of Detroit where she graduated cum laude with a finance major and an English minor.

Montagne’s media highlights include quotes in Barron’s, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, NPR, Washington Post and the Chicago Tribune. She has also appeared on Bloomberg TV and Fox Business News.

Content provided by Gradient Investment, LLC, an SEC registered investment advisor.


David Black
Benefits Consultant of Cooper Financial Group, LLC

David Black is a Strategic Alliance for the Cooper Financial team from the great state of Missouri. David lived in Missouri for over 45 years before making the decision to move to sunny Arizona. He comes with valuable experience and knowledge after years in the field of management.

For over 15 years, David put his degree in Business Management from Missouri State University to use by helping companies maximize their productivity while fostering better work environments for employees and management alike.

As he studied at the university, he emphasized his degree more specifically to Business Administration. His field knowledge and ability to work with everyone is a huge asset to Cooper Financial. David has a vast knowledge and a laser focus in doing what is best for his clients 100% of the time. He is a specialist in his field. His dedication to excellence makes him the perfect fit for Cooper Financial Group, LLC.

David has been married to his beautiful wife, Courtney, for over 10 years. Together, they have a gorgeous daughter, Reese. The three of them share their home with two sweet and sassy yorkies, Baxter and Cash. In his spare time, David loves to play golf, go fishing and travel. His favorite thing of all is spending time with his family.

Richard G. Black, CPA

Richard’s experience extends to all areas of tax planning, research, strategic planning, and compliance for closely-held corporations, partnerships, and individuals. He works closely with business owners in connection with their personal and business planning. He carries a specialized knowledge of the real estate, restaurant industries, and retail industries.


  • Member, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
  • Member, Missouri Society of Certified Public Accountants
  • Board member for Raider Junior Football League in Bonne Terre, Missouri
  • Board member for Young Faith in Christ, Farmington, Missouri


  • Bachelor of Accountancy, Southeast Missouri State University


  • Rick enjoys spending time with his wife, two sons, daughter and granddaughter. He is actively involved in his Church and enjoys playing golf.

Drew K. Horter
President and Founder, Horter Investment Management

Horter Investment Management’s approach is to seek to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns over a full market cycle (4-5 years) compared to the traditional 60% equities/40% bonds asset allocation. We do this by implementing investment opportunities with several tactical managers within our two risk buckets. For those investors who are unwilling to stomach anything more than nominal downside risk, our goal is to provide a satisfying return over a full market cycle compared to the appropriate index.

Horter Investment Management, LLC was founded in 1991. Drew Horter has been in the financial services industry for 31 years. Horter Investment Management has been an RIA for over 21 years. We pride ourselves in our credibility, knowledge and value system centered around a goal of providing a money management system designed to be low risk, low volatility1. Our greatest asset is the team of people committed to providing our clients with standout service.

At Horter, we believe in a Retirement Designed Money Management System that provides our clients with a low risk and low volatility1 portfolio that is designed for their needs and objectives. Our fee-based asset management platform consists of low to moderate risk investments to help retirees secure a better retirement. We have access to a platform of Private Wealth Managers which may not be available to smaller independent advisors. In return, our advisors commit themselves to providing our clients with an equal level of dedicated service, helping them reach their retirement goals, while striving to lead both client and advisor to a long and successful future.

We have been advising clients for over three decades. As a dedicated fiduciary, Horter Investment Management, LLC realizes that each client’s needs are unique. Horter fiduciary advisors customize solutions to help investors build long-term risk managed portfolios to meet their longevity and portfolio needs. The Horter approach strives to preserve and grow wealth across all market cycles while minimizing losses. Special consideration is always given to each client’s specific risk tolerance and investment goals.

Richard Ornstein
Reverse Mortgage Specialist, Loan Officer
Capital Pacific Mortgage Inc.

As with many financial products, reverse mortgage loans can be complicated and there are a number of misconceptions about how the product works. Do you know the myths vs. the realities?

Myth #1: The lender owns the home
Myth #2: Once loan proceeds are received, you pay taxes on them
Myth #3: The borrower is restricted on how to use the loan proceeds
Myth #4: The home must be free and clear of existing mortgages
Myth #5: Only people with financial hardships need reverse mortgages

Call 480-307-7505 or email Richard at to learn more!

C.J. Edgar
Founding Member
Cooper Canyon Law, LLC.

C.J. Eagar is a founding member of Copper Canyon Law LLC.  He graduated from Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University and focused his studies on estate planning and probate issues. Additionally, he was a member of the Civil Justice Clinic at ASU Law, representing clients who were victims of mortgage fraud during the housing crisis of 2008.

Today, C.J. continues his focus on estate planning issues, trusts, wills, probate avoidance, asset protection, special needs protections, powers of attorney, and various real property matters. Additionally, he handles trust administration and other fiduciary services on behalf of his clients.

Prior to helping form Copper Canyon Law LLC, C.J. worked for an Arizona estate planning firm for several years and subsequently worked for a local law firm handling trust disputes, probate matters, and trust formation.  C.J. has personally drafted thousands of wills and trusts for his clients throughout Arizona.

C.J. prides himself in taking a modern approach of practicing law, and believes his greatest accomplishments happen when he is out of the office spending time with family and friends.

Practice Areas

  • Estate Planning
  • Trusts and Wills
  • Probate Matters
  • Asset Protection
  • Trust Administration
  • Real Estate Matters
  • Elder Law Matters