Our Team
Philip F. Spalding, Jr., Founder/CEO, The QLS, LLC
President and Founder of The Spalding Financial Group, a boutique financial advisory firm that specializes in insurance based planning solutions for wealth transfer, retirement, business succession and philanthropy. He is nationally recognized as a top planner in his field and frequent speaker at industry conferences. His creativity has resulted in the award of U.S. patents, leading to the development of a new trading platform in the financial services industry. Phil formerly led the advanced insurance planning division for Moss Adams Wealth Advisors. He was also contracted by The Charles Schwab Co. to advise on the expansion of their life insurance platform in the advanced planning markets. Phil earned his B.A. from the University of Oregon and resides in Marin County with his three children.


Sandy Schmidt, Managing Producer
As the Founder and CEO of Schmidt Financial Group, Sandy has been advising affluent families and their core advisors on intelligent solutions to protect, transfer, leverage and integrate their wealth for over 30 years. Sandy believes that the wisdom and knowledge acquired developing unique estate plans for the ultra-wealthy over three decades benefits the individuals and families whom he serves. Sandy attributes the success of SFG to the core values, personalized planning and strategic and critical thinking utilized in his solution design process. He’s partnered with some of the top law and accounting firms to structure estate and insurance plans for their high net worth clients. Sandy earned his BS in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago. He also has FINRA Series 6, 63, 65, & 22 securities registration. Sandy is a lifetime member of the AALU, Forum 400 and Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT— Top of the Table).


Richard VanderSande, Managing Producer
Richard VanderSande is the founder of Smart Stewardship Advisors, a Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) firm located in Chicago serving clients nationwide. Smart Stewardship Advisors specializes in unique and proprietary advanced planning strategies that help families minimize taxes and maximize funding for family goals and charitable causes. He has presented at charitable and estate planning seminars at some of the largest non-profits. Rich is a graduate of Northwestern University with a degree in Economics, and a member of Kingdom Advisors. He lives in Lake in the Hills, Illinois with his wife and son. www.smartstewardship.com


John McDonough, Managing Producer
John McDonough is the President and CEO of Studemont Group of Companies, a full-service firm catering to the wealth management, college prep and financing retirement planning needs of pre-retired and retired clients. He’s the creator of the Future Creation Process™ and Without Doubt™ series, and is an Investment Advisor Representative of Baron Financial Advisors, LLC. He’s studied finance at Wharton School of Business and Rice University for the Certified Financial Planner™ designation. McDonough graduated with a BS in Business Administration from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. A former semi-professional soccer player, Mr. McDonough is involved in the Prince of Peace Catholic Church and the Northwest Bible Church. McDonough lives with his wife Edna and two daughters in Spring, Texas.


Chris Roehm, Managing Producer
Chris helps entrepreneurs create better futures for themselves, their families and their employees. He’s a Certified Financial Planner™ Practitioner and limits his practice exclusively to tax, estate and financial planning for owners of closely held and family businesses. Outside of the office, Chris has many interests. He is a rugby referee, supports live jazz, and volunteers at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Broward County. Chris holds a BS from the University of Florida in Food Science and Human Nutrition.


James B. Teegarden, Managing Producer
Since 1996, Jim Teegarden has helped successful entrepreneurs, legal and accounting firms, and business owners reduce taxation and grow their wealth. He specializes in combining the capital markets, tax planning, insurance and investment products to reduce taxes, mitigate risks and maximize wealth in ways that cannot be replicated. Jim is an active investor in various private companies and real estate projects. His extensive charitable involvement includes membership and financial contribution in Rocky Mountain Christian Church and other impactful Christian ministries. Outside of work, he enjoys an active lifestyle and family time. He and his wife Heidi live Boulder, CO, and are the proud parents of four teenagers (yikes). Website: www.teegardenfinancial.com


Kanu Patel, Managing Producer
Kanu Patel, founder and owner of Affluent Wealth Management (“AWM”) is an engineer and has unique ability to simplify and present a complex financial strategy in an easy to understand format. He has been an advisor for past 25 years. AWM employs “Blue Ocean” Strategy of QLS, differentiating oneself from the competition. AWM is a wealth advisory firm that helps clients protect, preserve, and pass on their wealth through generations. AWM is uniquely positioned for success in the financial services industry by using proprietary products for our clients’ needs. Using a hands on approach we are able to help our clients save money that they are losing unknowingly and unnecessarily.
Traditional wealth advisors help their clients try to generate higher returns by finding products that have more inherent risk.
AWM has a different philosophy: We believe there is more opportunity in helping our clients avoid unnecessary losses that they may or may not even know about using our deep-rooted industry expertise and powerful network.


Rao Garuda, Managing Producer
Rao Garuda offers more than 40 years’ experience in the financial services industry and is distinguished as top in his field, nationally and worldwide. Rao is the President and CEO of Associated Concepts Agency, Inc. He is also a partner of First Financial Resources, a national organization with over 100 partners in the USA. He is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Round Table and a member of the invitation-only Forum 400 with other leading financial planners in the U.S.
Rao frequently speaks around the country about financial planning techniques, asset protection, significant reduction of taxes, retirement income planning and charitable giving. Throughout his career, Rao has been sincerely devoted to the continued education of himself and those he works with. He is married to a retired physician and has 2 sons, who are highly accomplished in their own fields, and is a proud grandparent of 3.


James Petrinovich, Managing Producer
You could say that James was born into the life insurance business. He can recall helping his father put together folders of life insurance marketing material at the age of 4. A graduate of Santa Clara University with a degree in finance and an emphasis in accounting, James had the option to work at his grandfather’s well-established CPA firm in San Jose. Instead, he followed his father’s path in the life insurance business. Today, after 16 years of being licensed, he’s a savvy veteran with a seemingly endless thirst to help clients with best-in-class solutions. He has dedicated his practice to helping high income and high net worth families plan for a better tomorrow.
James enjoys sharing cutting-edge solutions with other advisors, equipping them with the proper tools to enhance the lives of their best clients. He has qualified for MDRT Top of the Table and was nominated as a member in the prestigious Forum 400. Due to his upfront style and ability to analyze and solve complex problems, James has been given many opportunities to help business owners with complicated income and capital gains tax mitigation matters. In the community, James has led the Silicon Valley NAIFA chapter in raising money for nearly 500 underprivileged children.


Michael Fontanini, Managing Producer
Michael Fontanini, CLU, CFP® is Director of Advanced Sales with Lion Street, Inc., a national network of fiercely independent advisors. Michael specializes in helping Lion Street Firms develop sophisticated life insurance solutions, encompassing both product and planning design, to meet the sophisticated needs of high net worth and business owner clients. He joined Lion Street in 2013. Prior to that, Michael’s background consists of diverse experience throughout the life insurance industry in various roles including personal production as a financial advisor, life insurance wholesaling, product marketing and advanced markets, all of which transpired with multiple life insurance carriers, including New England Financial, Phoenix Life, The Hartford and Prudential. Michael has earned the designations of Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), is FINRA series 7 and 26 registered and is a former member of the Advanced Sales Committee for LIMRA. He is also currently pursuing a Masters in Taxation (MT) degree through the Graduate Tax Program of Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law/Villanova School of Business. Michael is from Des Moines, IA and currently resides in Austin, TX.


Mike Beck, Managing Producer
Mr. Beck is a Managing Director of Actuarial Business Solutions (“ABS”), which is the sole designer of the Benefit Focused defined benefit plan. The ABS designed plan offers a unique approach to maximizing contributions to a qualified plan for business owners and pass through entities, which partners well with the QLS program that distributes qualified plan assets tax efficiently. Prior to joining ABS he spent 18 years with various hedge funds and asset managers, both on the investment side and leverage finance. He has managed over $600MM in assets and lead deal teams to close over $1 billion in debt and equity capital. His investment experience includes capital structure arbitrage, corporate restructurings, distressed investments and bankruptcies. Mr. Beck graduated cum laude from Miami University (OH) with a degree in Finance. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a member of both the CFA Institute and the CFA Society of San Francisco. Mike is an Investment Advisor Representative with Cambridge Investment Research Advisors and has FINRA Series 7 and 63 securities registration. Mr. Beck currently resides in Marin County with his wife and two children.


Jim Lusk, CFP, Managing Producer
Jim has been in the life insurance and financial services business since 1983. In 1985 he founded Retirement Nationwide, Inc. to work privately with retiring public employees, which was a natural evolution since he spent six years teaching high school math and physics prior to 1983.
In 1994, Jim had the distinct honor of hiring Phil Spalding into the life insurance business with a major mutual life insurance company. When Phil branched out on his own, he was working the pension concept since 1995.
Jim retired from New York Life as a first line manager in 2017 and re-assumed the presidency of Retirement Nationwide, Inc. and shortly thereafter became a Managing Producer with QLS, working with Phil Spalding.
Jim loves to educate, train, and develop advisors and clients about creating tax-efficient retirement income for retirees, their spouses, charities, and their estate.
Jim is married to Debbie (since 1976), has two daughters, three grandchildren, and several cats and dogs. He also loves baseball, enjoys all sports, woodworking, outdoors, and math.


Dan Harding, Managing Producer
Dan Harding has supplied wealth management services for high-net-worth individuals and firms for the past decade. His areas of expertise include sophisticated financial planning, tax services, and retirement planning.

With the language of mathematics and economics being Dan’s fluency, he’s always had a fascination with cracking codes. Dan consistently challenges himself to not only think outside of the box, but to eliminate the box completely.

He realized that a gap existed between a consumer’s understanding of the new administration’s tax laws, and how to apply those laws to modern day tax savings. Using his tenacity for seeing things differently and a desire to offer an opportunity to long-suffering tax payers, Dan single-handedly conceptualized, designed, and coded the WealthPRIME™ (formerly TaxHACKer) calculator to help close this gap.
Seen as his most prized brainchild, WealthPRIME™ offers highly customized financial solutions on a scale only once offered through one on one consulting. Dan also acts as the CEO of Retirement Administration, Inc. (RAI). RAI is a third party administration (TPA) firm that helps closely held, profitable companies significantly reduce income taxation with customized retirement plan designs. RAI uses aggressive plan design strategies—unlike your average 401(k) plan—and includes advanced alternative investment opportunities that can exponentially increase account values, and provide maximum tax deductions. RAI and WealthPRIME™ are affiliated companies.


Zack Barresse, Spreadsheet Modeler
The QLS is incredibly lucky to have found Zack, an industry-respected Excel expert. He joined forces with Phil in 2014 to create the QLS patent-pending software. He has worked in spreadsheet modeling and automation since 2003, and was awarded the esteemed Microsoft MVP award for Excel. Zack has spoken at many tech conferences, and regularly teaches Excel classes. He is also the co-author of Excel Tables: A Complete Guide for Creating, Using and Automating Lists and Tables. In his spare time, Zack regularly volunteers as trained firefighter/paramedic.