Our Team

Steven A. Laraway, J.D., CPA®, CFP® professional

President/CEO

Steve shapes the culture of excellence at Laraway Financial Advisors, modeling positivity and optimism gained over 36 years of financial service. He guides the day-to-day operation, mentors a team of nine advisors, and sets the strategic direction for the company’s growth and stability.

Before following his entrepreneurial leanings to launch Laraway Financial Advisors in 2001, Steve was President of Bremer Trust for nine years. Today, his successful financial services firm has over $225 million in assets and many clients whom Steve calls friends.

“People don’t care how much you know ‘til they know how much you care,” says Steve.

Of all Steve does, enjoys, and values in life, he counts stewardship as the key to success. Steve sits on the boards of the St. Cloud City Council (Ward 2), CentraCare Health System, Central Minnesota Boy Scouts and Central MN Community Foundation. He’s a member of St. Cloud Opportunities, Chamber of Commerce, and Rotary International.

Steve’s been lauded as well:

  • • Trustee of the Year, Minnesota Hospital Association, 2013
  • • Professional Award in Philanthropy, Central Minnesota Community Foundation, 2012
  • • Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award – New Ulm Cathedral High School, 2011
  • • Silver Antelope Award, Boy Scouts of America – Central Minnesota Council, 2011

Steve has a B.A. in Business and Accounting from the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, and a Law degree from Marquette University, Milwaukee.

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Another side of Steve:

As a young man in New Ulm, Steve mowed lawns. However, his dream job is general manager of a sports franchise––not surprisingly, the Twins or Vikings. A “sports junkie” of all sports, Steve’s attended nine Final Fours and five U.S. Opens. He’s also collected 30 autographed baseballs, including Harmon Killebrew and Ernie Banks, and a nearly complete 1965 Tops set of 598 (minus five) baseball cards.

Inspired by the bucket list he’d created at age 25, Steve took a Swirl wine class five years ago from certified wine educator and sommelier Kent Benson, built a state-of-the-art wine cellar, and began amassing his 400-bottle wine collection. Cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir are favorites.

Steve and his wife Peggy also enjoy “Up North” trips to outdoor rock concerts at Moondance Jam in Walker, and weekends at the lake near Remer are always memorable, especially when Steve concocts his signature BBQ ribs and brisket for family. The couple has four grown children and one grandson.

The couple loves to travel––when they can synchronize schedules; Peggy is a busy hospital nurse. One memorable trip to England, Scotland and Ireland prompted an interest in Steve’s English and Irish ancestry.

Something no one knows about Steve . . . When he was 27, Steve performed CPR on a woman who’d stopped breathing in a St. Paul restaurant near the bank where he worked. Steve had completed CPR training only one week prior to the emergency!

Chris Wayne

FINANCIAL ADVISOR/VICE PRESIDENT/PARTNER

Chris balances a love of logic, numbers, and investment analytics with the desire to enjoy life and meet people. He helps Laraway Financial Advisors’ clients improve their financial lives by planning and becoming educated about money and finances.

Before joining the company in 2014, Chris was an Investment Representative with another local financial firm for 11 years. Today, he consults with Laraway Financial Advisors’ clients on a variety of financial topics, investments, and insurance products.

“There’s nothing better than sitting down with clients, showing them the potential results of a good plan over time, and seeing the contented look on their faces that says, ‘Yes. Now we’re prepared,’” says Chris.

Chris prepared for his career by earning a BS in Finance, with an emphasis on Micro Computer Studies, from St. Cloud State University. Years later when Chris met Steve Laraway at a Scouting event, he was impressed with the company’s financial values and stewardship objectives, so impressed that he signed on. Today, Chris combines these values with his community responsibilities. He is Cubmaster and Den Leader, an Eagle Scout Review Board member and Alumni Committee Chair, and serves on the Executive Board of Central Minnesota Boy Scouts. He is a member of the Central Minnesota Community Foundation’s Investment Committee, the Greater St. Cloud Business Development Corps, and St. Cloud Opportunity.

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Another side of Chris:

Chris grew up in River Falls, Wisconsin, the son of an accountant father and early childhood educator mother. Not surprisingly, he followed natural math ability to a career in Finance. He applied an affinity for education to his service as treasurer at Children’s Day Montessori of St. Cloud and to his Scouting (“Lead by example.”) role with his own two boys. Chris is a Boy Scout, literally.

Chris has always been sports-minded––running the hurdles and competing in the long jump, playing football and golfing. As a “cheese head,” he cheers for the Badgers and Packers, but also roots for the Gophers when necessary. He’s teaching the boys to downhill ski and golf; golf is Chris’s best individual game. When he saw Tiger Woods win the 2000 British Open at St. Andrews, Scotland, it was a-once-in-a-lifetime thrill.

Chris loves nature, taking his wife Katie and the boys camping and fishing with family and friends in Luck, Wisconsin. “We love to be outdoors, sitting around the campfire on a cool fall night,” says Chris.

Something nobody knows about Chris . . . While attending St. Cloud State University, he was part of the Education Abroad program at Alnwick Castle in England. The “Harry Potter” movies were filmed at that castle.

James Schmitz

Financial Advisor/Secretary-Treasurer/Partner

James collaborates with his team to set business objectives for Laraway Financial Advisors and to reinforce its stewardship mission. He greatly enjoys initiating good conversations with clients about their futures. James sees his advisor and insurance professional role as one of helping them draft roadmaps for financial success and well-being. James splits his time between the local office and the newly opened office location in Alexandria.

James obtained a B.S. degree in Finance and Economics from Northern State University, located in his hometown of Aberdeen, South Dakota. After working various jobs across the Midwest for a number of years, James returned to his first choice of careers – Finance. Prior to joining the company in 2012, James was an investment representative with ING Financial Partners.

James’ desire to help people reaches beyond the investment advisory role to his community and church. He is an active member of Lion’s Club International and he and his wife Angela participate in the life of the church at St. Francis Xavier Parish. Catholic Charities, St. Cloud Youth Hockey, and Athlos Academy St. Cloud­­––where Angela is an Instructional Guide–– have benefited from his volunteering.

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Another side of James:

James focuses on family and fun when he’s away from the office. Three active kids contribute to the kinetic energy of Jim’s “downtime”. He’s busy driving to practices and watching his kids play hockey, soccer and baseball. Saturday mornings he’s got the crew in the kitchen, preparing pancakes. He enjoys cooking and Angela is happy to relinquish the stove to him, especially for Thanksgiving dinners.

The family has lived in the St. Cloud/Sartell area for the past 20 years. Out in the yard, you’ll find a boat in the summer and the snowmobiles in the winter, true Minnesotan behavior. When James and his family are not helping in their community, they like to go fishing, boating, snowmobiling and golfing together. James goes pheasant hunting as well and gets back to South Dakota at least annually for the pursuit. Playing cards (Buck Euchre) with the neighbors is a weekly pastime.

James Schmitz is a man with a ready smile and easy manner, intent on his career goals, his clients’ needs, and his family’s health and happiness.

Kimberly Foster

Financial Advisor/Senior Administrator

Kim excels as a compliance officer and appreciates how her analytical, regulatory duties complement the client-centered advisory services she provides for the company. Kim helps Laraway Financial Advisors’ clients make sound financial decisions that have impact on their financial wellbeing.

Kim has given 22 years to the financial services industry, working her way up from the ground floor to where her career stands today––a few courses from a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designation through The American College of Financial Services. After receiving a diploma at the St. Cloud Technical College, Kim worked for a Northwestern Mutual Insurance agent and a registered securities representative as an administrative assistant, subsequently becoming Director of Operations during her 20+ years at a local retirement and estate planning firm. In 2009, she completed coursework in Business Administration at St. Cloud State University. In 2014 Kim joined Laraway Financial Advisors.

“I’m passionate about the world of financial planning,” says Kim, who holds multiple securities and insurance licenses. “My position allows me to broaden my compliance experience while helping clients with financial planning, all in an office where everyone is so positive and genuine.”

Positive experience with the GREAT Theatre, a nonprofit community theater for artists and audiences of all ages, led Kim to a volunteer board position. She is also a recovery coach at the St. Cloud Hospital’s Recovery Plus, an addiction services treatment center.

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Another side of Kim:

Kim was raised in St. Stephen. As an Army medic, stationed at the Giebelstadt Army Airfield in Germany, Kim met Nicholas. The two participated in field exercises together as part of the 3rd Attack Helicopter Division, and the couple eventually married. Both daughters were born on army bases; the eldest in Germany and the youngest in Colorado. When both Army tours were completed, the family returned to Minnesota.

Kim still loves to travel, having been to Germany and Austria and across the USA to San Francisco on vacation, Louisiana, Washington D.C., and New York City to visit Nicholas’ family. However, she also likes to “nestle-in” on a movie night with Nicholas, watching seldom-seen independent flicks like “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” grand-prize winner at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, and “Fruitvale Station,” grand-prize winner in 2013, to name a few she recommends. In her spare time, Kim enjoys yoga, walking her Husky, Lucy and going to musical theater performances with her daughters.

Something nobody knows about Kim . . . While in Germany, Kim drove a 2.5 ton, six-wheel-drive, triple-axel cargo truck––fondly called the “deuce-and-a-half”––with trailer as part of the Army’s medical convoy during field training exercises. “Very scary,” says Kim of the high embankments and the narrow roads that threatened rollovers.

Bill Bateman, CLU®, ChFC®

FINANCIAL ADVISOR

Bill brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to Laraway Financial Advisors, gained during 52 years in insurance and financial consulting. Daily, he helps clients discover new financial possibilities for themselves and their families through plans for a secure retirement or the bequeathing of financial legacies.

In 2014, Bill became part of the Laraway group, having owned Bateman, Dolan, and Westlund since 1979 and overseen its merger with Stearns Insurance in 1999. Over those years of developing professional contacts and making life-long friends, Bill was also focused giving accurate, honest, and meaningful client advice.

“I become very involved in any activity I commit to, including helping my clients,” says Bill.

Many have benefited from Bill’s penchant for leadership and sense of responsibility. Bill is on the board of Granite Rotary and volunteers for Central Minnesota Youth for Christ and Calvary Community Church. He is a past-president of the YMCA and Central Minnesota Youth for Christ, and previously, was a board member of the United Way of Central Minnesota.

Bill earned a BA in Finance and Economics at Bemidji State University, Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) designation and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) designation from the American College of Financial Services.

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Another side of Bill:

Bill was raised in Osage, the son of a Ford dealership owner who hunted with his father and his sons, Bill and Lyle. The family continues this tradition, maintaining a deer camp in Two Inlet State Forest, north of Bill’s Straight Lake home. Bill’s son and grandsons routinely return from upper New York State for deer hunting. An avid hunter of deer, antelope, caribou, and elk, Bill has hunted in Idaho, Montana, Colorado and Alaska, and bagged grouse and pheasant in North Dakota. Another trip to Alaska may be on his bucket list.

Back in the day, Bill played football for Bemidji State; today he’s a staunch Viking season-ticket holder and Gopher fan. He’s also a snowmobiler, negotiating the powder on the White Earth Indian Nation’s groomed trails. Golf is not Bill’s forte, although he’s practiced every Wednesday for 20 years with his guy-friends. Their favorite course is Eagles Landing at Ft. Ripley, “a golfer-friendly course.”

Bill and his wife Elna enjoy their blended family of five daughters, one son, and nine grandchildren. They also love to see new places. They’ve traveled to Africa, Australia, Barbados, Canada, China, England, France, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Ireland, Scotland, Spain, and Switzerland, giving new meaning to the concept of “well-traveled.”

Something not many know about Bill . . . he and his sister contracted polio before there was vaccine. Both went to the Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute in Minneapolis. After boiling hot packs and vigorous exercises were used on their affected back and leg muscles, brother and sister recovered with barely any reminders of the disease. Bill is especially happy that through the efforts of Rotary and others, polio has been eradicated in the world, with the exception of one or two countries.

Eileen Winter

FINANCIAL ASSISTANT

Eileen is typically the initial cheerful face clients see upon entering the office, or the pleasant “Hello” they receive over the phone. Her responsibilities at Laraway Financial Advisors, in addition to “go-to” administrative tasks for the Advisors, are to keep clients’ data organized and respond to their requests. Her calm demeanor and efficient helpfulness put everyone at ease, immediately.

In 2014, Eileen became part of the Laraway team, bringing with her over 20 years of administrative experience, knowledge of financial services and employee benefits, and a small business owner’s perspective. Eileen and her husband Jason own and operate Happy Kooker’s Kettle Corn Company, which is a seasonal business they established in May of 2011. Eileen is a graduate of Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls.

Whether they’re Laraway clientele, colleagues, or her own customers, Eileen enjoys meeting and interacting with people. “I appreciate friendly and genuine people,” says Eileen. “They make my every day on the job different than the day before.”

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Another side of Eileen:

Eileen and Jason are avid supporters and team sponsors of the Minnesota State High School Trap Shooting and are involved with the championship activities of the Minnesota High School Clay Target League. They have two nephews involved in this rapidly growing outdoor sport.

Combining family, friends, and fun with the great outdoors is a major leisure-time activity for Eileen and Jason. Boating (of all types), traveling the “blue highways” of Minnesota, exploring new venues, and relaxing in the North Country bring the couple peace and tranquility. (We also have it on good authority that Eileen enjoys a love affair with sunrises and sunsets on the lake!)

Of course, the couple’s Happy Kooker’s Kettle Corn Company keeps them extremely busy. In the summer, they take the concession trailer to trap shooting events in Alexandria, fine art shows, winery tours and tasting, and other festivals and events across Minnesota. This activity gives them wonderful opportunities to interact with the interesting folks they’ve met along the way at these events. During the “off” season, the concession trailer may be parked at home near Avon, but Eileen and Jason are busy popping up and packaging gourmet specialty kettle corn orders for corporate parties, weddings, graduation parties, and gifting.

Something nobody knows about Eileen . . . she loves shoe shopping!

Dale Miller

CLIENT RELATIONS ADMINISTRATOR

For a man who is fascinated by people in history, Dale Miller does a great job of helping people today to plan for their futures tomorrow.

As a client relations administrator at Laraway Financial, Dale manages a lot of the behind-the-scenes managing of accounts, working hand-in-hand with the firm’s financial planners to ensure that client communication and account maintenance are optimal. Both Dale’s education and experience are key to his ability to provide client solutions that help them meet their goals and take ownership of their financial futures.

After growing up in Brookings, South Dakota, Dale stayed close to home for college, attending South Dakota State University, where he studied Sociology and developed a strong foundation for understanding how to help people. That knowledge has served him well ever since, first as a nursing home administrator for 22 years and then in his second career in the financial planning realm.

“In planning for a career change, I attended the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks for two years to study accounting, finance and business at both the under- and post-graduate level,” Dale said. His opportunities have since included working in the Compliance Department at an area broker-dealer and as a Client Service Coordinator, Para planner and Financial Advisor at other St. Cloud Financial Services companies. “I feel that learning more than one model of financial planning has provided a greater basis for being able to meet our client’s needs,” Dale said. “Here at Laraway Financial, we have a complex, tight structure and we work together to stay as sharp as possible.”

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Another side of Dale:

The St. Cloud community has been a great fit for Dale and his wife Carol, an elementary music teacher, to raise their sons Michael and Nathan. Michael is now a police officer in Hopkins, MN and Nathan is a student at St. Cloud State University. Dale and Carol live in Sauk Rapids and are active in their church choir and bell choir. “Our adult lives have been spent living in Minnesota, and we love the geography and opportunities this state has provided for our gamily.”

One of Dale’s favorite things to do is step back in time with a good regimental history or historical biography. “I particularly enjoy reading about the Civil War or World War II,” Dale said, “As a Nursing Home Administrator, I met so many wonderful people who had lived history. Everyone has a meaningful life story, regardless of its perceived simplicity. History, and people, are fascinating to me.” Thanks to his career shift, Dale now not only appreciates people’s histories, but helps them be ready for their futures as well.

The Right Partnership Makes It Possible.