Management Team

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Joseph F.  Hunter, President and Chief Executive Officer
Joseph joins EQIS as a Senior Financial Services Executive with deep and broad-based experience in correspondent clearing, self-clearing & fully disclosed operations. Joseph has extensive management experience in both product and project development, Section 16 /20 firm development, and Managed account clearing operations. Joseph is adept in personnel management, as well as Retail/Institutional Trading operations, and Call Center management expertise. He is a proven Project/Program manager and a recognized innovator of brokerage/RIA evolutional changes.

Joseph’s industry experience includes; President, Financial Services International Corp – a FINRA/SEC registered Broker Dealer, Senior Vice President, Broker Dealer Operations, Curian Capital, Senior Vice President, Correspondent Implementations, National Financial/Fidelity Investments, and Senior Vice President, Broker Dealer Operations Executive, Banc of America Investments.

Joseph held FINRA Series 7, 9, 10, 24, 27, 53, 63 registrations and is a graduate of the University Of Washington’s Pacific Coast Banking School, in Seattle, Washington.


William R. Nelson, PhD, Chief Investment Officer
Rob exhibited his passion for both entrepreneurship and helping others increase wealth early on in life. Upon graduating from college he spent time as a member of the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) where he made markets in financial futures and learned the intricacies of supply and demand. After a number of years, this led to an academic appointment in the Department of Finance and Managerial Economics at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo School of Management where he spent several years as a professor.  

During his time as a professor, Rob founded the experimental economics lab at SUNY Buffalo and taught MBA students the principles of economics that they would need to become strong leaders in their future positions.

With more than two decades of experience in the financial services industry, Rob combines his hands-on trading experience and academic rigor to provide his unique and valuable insight toward the portfolio engineering and investment selection at EQIS.

He has been published in the American Economic Review, Public Choice, DePaul Journal of Health Care Law, International Conference on Information Technology ITCC 2004 Proceedings, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Latin American Finance and Capital Markets, and Latin American Law and Business Report, among others. His academic research primarily focused on how fairness and fair play affect choices and outcomes.

Rob has an MA and PhD in economics from George Mason University and a BS from San Diego State University. He also maintains his FINRA Series 65 securities license.

Kenneth Kim, PhD, Chief Economist, Chief Financial Strategist
Ken began his career in finance more than 20 years ago as a research assistant at the PACAP Research Center in Rhode Island. He has worked as a senior financial economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, as a consultant for the CFA Institute, as a special consultant for the Securities Litigation Consulting Group and as an academic consultant for the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange. He is also a highly accomplished finance scholar and professor of financial strategy, investments, portfolio theory, derivative securities, business economics, and financial risk management. He has held academic appointments at 16 different universities around the world and has served on the board of directors of multiple academic organizations.

His research has been widely-published in peer-reviewed journals, and he has been cited or quoted in the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, BusinessWeek, Barron’s, The New York Times and many more. Ken is also a Forbes contributing columnist.

He is a frequent speaker at conferences, corporate trainings and executive development programs. He holds a PhD from the University of Rhode Island, an MBA from the University of Detroit and a BA from the University of Michigan.  Ken also maintains his Series 65 securities license.

Melanie Hardin, Chief Strategy Officer
Ms. Hardin has more than 25 years of financial services and business management experience. She was most recently EVP of Investment Platform Solutions and Cash Products for LPL Financial, the largest independent broker dealer in the US with over $450B in assets. Prior to joining LPL Financial, she worked for Automatic Data Processing as Division Vice President for Strategy and Business Development. Before ADP, Ms. Hardin was a Director and CEO of the newly organized Charles Schwab, U.K., Ltd, which provides US securities business for the UK private investor market. Earlier, she was VP of Market Development for Wells Fargo Bank. Melanie currently is a member of FTV Capital’s strategic advisory board and serves on the board of Blue Marble Game Company. Ms. Hardin earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of San Francisco.

Jason Luhan, Chief Legal Officer & Chief Compliance Officer
Jason joined EQIS in 2015 as Chief Compliance Officer and Senior Legal Counsel to ensure that EQIS maintains a comprehensive compliance position relative to the ever-changing regulatory climate of the financial industry. His experience also brings to EQIS a comprehensive view of the workings and interplay of SEC registered investment advisers and FINRA member broker-dealers.

Prior to joining EQIS, Jason held hybrid roles within the financial services community blending his knowledge of law and regulations with the operational needs of the enterprise. Jason has served as Chief Operations Officer and General Counsel to a national broker dealer where he oversaw the daily activity of the firm’s departments and the defense of claims brought against the firm relevant to FINRA arbitration and/or state actions. In his dual roles, Jason was responsible for the review and interpretation of regulatory changes and general legal matters affecting the securities industry and the firm. Jason has also held the role of SVP, Managing Director of an SEC registered RIA with over 300 investment adviser representatives. As managing director, he instilled work-flow efficiencies and increased revenues, as well as increasing adviser adoption of the advisory platform.

Jason obtained a B.A. in Business Administration from the University of San Diego and his Juris Doctor from the Kennedy School of Law at Chapman University. While in law school, he worked as an international specialist for a boutique business bank in Los Angeles and as a judicial extern to the Honorable Theodore Albert, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California.

Jason holds his series 66 and held FINRA 7, 99, 53 and 24 licenses, is a Real Estate Broker registered with the California Bureau of Real Estate, and is admitted to the California Bar.

Mark G. Thompson, Chief Financial Officer
Mark is a senior technology industry finance executive with over 25 years in finance including more than 16 years as CFO. He is responsible for EQIS’s financial management functions, including financial reporting, tax, audit, treasury, human resources,corporate development and investor relations. Prior to joining EQIS, he held senior positions at both large and small companies, public and private. He has served as CFO while taking a company public in the U.S. through SEC form S-1 registration, as well as serving as CFO of two other public companies. His background also includes CFO experience at leading Silicon Valley-based venture capital firms.

Mark’s finance specialties include: capital market transactions, private and public equity and debt markets, corporate finance and HR management, investor relations, mergers & acquisitions, business plan development, limited partnership finance, and risk management.

Mark is a graduate of Texas A&M University, B.S. in Electrical Engineering, with an MBA from the Haas School at University of California, Berkeley.

Robert J. Schmidt, Chief Distribution Officer
As SVP of Strategic Accounts, Rob leverages his experience, deep industry contacts, technical knowledge and distribution expertise to drive profitable growth at EQIS. He developed his skills and reputation as a leader at Solomon Brothers Asset Management in the 90s, Genworth Financial Wealth Management, and Lockwood Advisors by delivering innovative sales and marketing campaigns that enabled these asset management organizations to enhance distribution excellence across all channels and platforms.

Kari Franz, SVP Marketing
Ms. Franz has more than 25 years of marketing experience focused in the financial services industry and digital marketing. Before joining EQIS, Kari was responsible for mutual fund and ETF marketing at Charles Schwab representing $1.3 trillion in assets under management.  While at Russell Investments, she was responsible for launching and marketing 26 ETF funds.  Additionally, during her tenure at Discover Card Ms. Franz acquired 3.2 million new cardmembers annually. Ms. Franz earned her MBA from DePaul University and a Bachelors of Science in marketing from Northern Illinois University. 


Joel Bennett, VP, Business Strategy
Joel T. Bennett is a 15-year veteran of the financial services industry. He has worked for T. Rowe Price, JP Morgan Chase, and Genworth Financial. As a consultant and partner to hundreds of financial advisors, Joel has helped independent advisors raise over a billion dollars in assets under management. His key areas of expertise are practice management, client relationship management, business development, and investment strategy. Joel received a BA in finance and economics from Western Michigan University.

Robert Ryan, SVP, Engineering
With over 16 years of experience, Robert Ryan is a leader in the development of SaaS-based products. He recently architected and managed technology development at the successful start-up Practice Fusion, which provides a mission critical platform for physicians and received some of the highest rankings in the industry. In his nearly five years at Practice Fusion he helped grow a team of four to over 100 engineers. He has managed teams building financial services and transaction execution platforms with multiple firms including Wells Fargo, Innoventry, and Transcentra. Robert has a BS in business administration with an emphasis in finance and accounting from Sonoma State University. He has been actively trading since he was 18 and started programming at the age of 11. His hobbies include boating, programming, and spending time with his family.

Vanessa Knightly, Director of Operations
Vanessa joins EQIS with more than a decade of financial services experience.  She began her career at Woodbury Financial Services as a successful financial advisor.  She most recently served in several leadership roles for Assetmark, ranging from trading, operations, and the customer experience. Vanessa has a passion for process improvement, which has resulted in saving over 100 hours and making teams more efficient.  Vanessa received a BA in Business Administration from St. Mary’s College of California.  She enjoys running half marathons, painting and spending time with her family.

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Nikki Jagdman, Internal Sales Manager
Nikki began her career at EQIS in Operations and has been promoted many times to meet the growing needs of the organization. Nikki  quickly became an Internal Business Consultant (IBC) partnering with financial advisors to build their business. Leveraging her skills as and IBC, Nikki then assumed the role of National Training Manager. Most recently, she was promoted to Internal Sales Manager overseeing all the IBCs.