Robert M. Derks, founder and owner of the Investment Center of Wisconsin, LLC has guided the firm with the same principles and ideas that have always guided him through out his investment career. His professional career began in 1987 when he received his brokerage license and went to work for Lake Geneva Investments. However, his money management skills were developed at a younger age.
When his father died at the age of thirteen, being the oldest of four children, his mother immediately assigned him the role of “man of the house.” Every month the bills were laid out on the table, paid, and the monthly budget re-examined. It was not easy surviving on a small military pension and social security. The family learned to be frugal, cost conscious, and always finding the best values. These lessons have served Bob well throughout his investment career.
After graduating from Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, Bob attended the University of St. Thomas on an Otto Bremer Scholarship award. During his last two years at St. Thomas, he was employed at the U.S. Dept. of Labor, working with ERISA (the Employee Retirement Act of 1974). It built a solid foundation for working with pension plans and retirees in the future. In 1982, soon after Ronald Reagan came into office and the infamous David Stockman’s budget cuts, he found himself without a job and in the middle of a nasty recession. He turned those lemons into lemonade by applying to graduate school and being awarded a full academic scholarship to Brandeis University. Soon Bob and his wife were on their way to Boston.
In Boston, he discovered the financial district. Many new mutual fund companies were being born and growing into household names: Fidelity, Scudder, MFS, Alliance, Putnam. Bob studied and absorbed everything he could about the investment world. His library consortium card gave him access to many of the world’s most prestigious universities. He studied Benjamin Graham, Warren Buffett, John Templeton, Peter Lynch, Jimmy Rogers, Paul Tudor Jones and many others. He designed and wrote his own computer programs to get an edge. His new found hobby—investing-- quickly became his passion.
After receiving his graduate degree, he moved back home to Wisconsin. He quickly passed his securities exam, and went to work at Lake Geneva Investments. Because of the firm’s limited investment capabilities, he wanted to make a change. Friends in the industry highly recommended a large regional firm at the time named A.G. Edwards and Sons, Inc. which had no proprietary products, did not trade their own account, and believed in putting the client first. He joined, went through their training program, and emerged as one of the top new financial consultants at the firm, including being named the “Most Improved Broker” in 1990 and awarded the title Vice President—Investments.
Although one of the youngest consultants in the office, A.G. Edwards selected him to manage the Brookfield office in 1994. By 2000, under his tenure the Brookfield was the largest office in the state with 28 brokers. The firm soon promoted him to Vice President of the Corporation. The investment practices and ideas he learnt while at A. G. Edwards still guide him today. He never wants to break that bond of trust established between himself and the client. His allegiance has always been to the client, not the company. He also wanted to work with “middle America” not just the wealthy. As he says, “a doctor doesn’t work with just the healthy.” He often said if it wasn’t for A.G. Edwards, he would have left Wall Street a long time ago.
In 2007, A.G. Edwards merged into Wachovia Securities. In pursuit of always trying to do what’s right—whatever the cost--and living the Golden Rule—treat others the way you want to be treated, he resigned in 2008 to start the Investment Center of Wisconsin which is a registered branch office of The Investment Center, Inc., and independent broker/dealer.