Young Redwood Falls entrepreneur driven by values
“It was a values-driven choice not an economic-driven choice.”
For years, we’ve heard about “brain drain,” the phenomenon where young folks leave rural towns to attend college and pursue better opportunities in cities. But research into Minnesota’s shifting rural demographics now shows a positive reverse trend of “brain gain” — where young adults migrate back to their hometowns with families in tow and expertise to offer.
Tony Madsen of NewLeaf Financial Guidance is a local case in point. He grew up in Redwood Falls and left to attend college at Augustana University in Sioux Falls. Madsen worked for a number of years in the Twin Cities metro area for a large broker-dealer. Then he became a certified financial planner and worked as a financial advisor at a corporate firm.
Working in a corporate environment helped Madsen gain important experience and knowledge. “It was never about climbing the ladder to make money. It was about learning to be a better advisor to clients,” he explains.
Eventually, Madsen decided to start his own advisory practice. He and his wife, who also grew up in the area, chose to move back to Redwood Falls several years ago to raise their children and be closer to family.
“It was a values-driven choice not an economic-driven choice,” he says. “I can do what I do anywhere. I’m not bound by city limits.”
Although NewLeaf Financial Guidance is based in Redwood Falls, Madsen serves clients around the country. NewLeaf is a fee-only, fiduciary, financial planning firm. As a fiduciary, he pledges to work solely in the client’s best interest. Under the fee-only model, Madsen does not accept commissions or marketing money from product companies, lessening the chance for conflict of interest.
“Transparency is important to me,” he explains. “I never liked the idea of my clients walking to the elevator bay and wondering why I was making a particular recommendation — if it was truly in their best interest.”
NewLeaf also differentiates itself because it seeks to reach a population that’s underserved by the financial industry: people under the age of 50. Madsen wants to help younger clients not just with investments but with developing good financial habits.
He likes to form relationships with his clients. “I’d rather have 100 than 1000 clients,” Madsen says. “I want to know about them. I’m choosy about who I work with and why I work with them.”
Madsen is also community-minded. He’s an advocate for small businesses and growing the local economy. He serves on the Redwood Area Development Corporation board of directors in order to play a role in shaping the area’s future.
The long term health of Redwood Falls is very important to me. I didn’t move back here to see the town die,” Madsen says. “I think it’s important to make wise decisions about how we support business and attract new business.”