John Feste, president, Marks Group Wealth Management

John Feste is overseeing daily operations and leading continued growth with his promotion to president of Minnetonka-based Marks Group Wealth Management.

Feste previously was managing principal of the company, which he co-founded in 2008 with Ben Marks.

Marks continues as chief investment officer and chairman of the independent registered investment advisory firm's investment committee.

"That in-house investment committee removes the middleman and increases accountability and transparency while reducing expenses for the client," Feste said. "It puts people closer to their money, which is something they want more than ever."

Marks Group Wealth Management, which launched with $200 million in assets under management in November 2008, topped $1 billion at the third quarter's end, Feste said.

Feste attributed that growth to "hiring top talent, developing a deep bench and creating a collaborative team environment."

Feste has worked in the industry for nearly two decades, at an insurance company, a regional brokerage firm, a major broker and for the last 10 years at Marks Group.

Marks Group Wealth Management manages clients' assets primarily through individual stocks and individual bonds, Marks said. It operates on a "fee-based, pay-as-you-go structure."

Feste was a 17-year-old high school student when he first interned for Marks in 1994.

Q: What prompted you and Ben Marks to start your own company?

A: Industry trends were changing and the major firms were consistently losing market share in favor of independent advisory firms. We developed a belief that more and more people wanted to do business with a firm that's independent of the Wall Street institutions that create products and have potential conflicts of interest.

Q: How did launching during the recession affect the company?

A: There was a lot of uncertainty for everyone who lived through those times. But we were firm in our belief that this model was a significant upgrade for our clients and for us. We had to be extra vigilant when it came to client communications and being available to them. And you're running a business on top of that now, which was different.

Q: What are your priorities as president?

A: Hiring the best people is probably most important to us. We've developed the infrastructure and a scalable business model that positions us well for future growth. It also allows us to maintain a high-touch relationship with existing clients as we experience significant growth, which is important because you can't grow the firm at the expense of existing clients.

Todd Nelson