Who We Are
Since 1934, Wheeler Associates has worked with employers, employees, families, and individuals
to provide the insurance, benefits, and financial planning to get them where they need to go.
|Click on the pictures below to learn more about each member of our staff:|
Andrew Wheeler, CFP®, AIF®
Financial Adviser / Partner
As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and Accredited Investment Fiduciary®, he feels it is his responsibility to educate and grow his clients’ total financial well-being, and his sincerity mixed with humor makes him a great fit for such a difficult topic to navigate. His goal is to have proper financial planning added to all undergraduate curriculums, so it becomes an annually reviewable piece of people's lives like doing your taxes every April 15th.
Andy has been a partner at Wheeler Associates for more than 15 years and, for each of the last four, has been honored as a Chairman’s Club producer, an accomplishment reserved for only the top 5% of financial advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network®. His financial knowledge is noted by colleagues, local organizations, publications, and television news stations, where he is often interviewed or asked to contribute to stories regarding the financial industry.
He spent much of his youth participating in numerous team sports, concluding with being named a four-time Big-Ten All-Academic team member and captain of the 2001–2002 UW-Madison Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey team. The team mentality now flows over into his professional career, and he credits his success to the support and creativity of his amazing Wheeler Associates team. Together, they have created an environment that supports and encourages their clients’ financial well-being.
Andy views his relationships with all his clients as a partnership, where both parties need to be engaged and held accountable while respecting and valuing the other's contributions. It is paramount for a successful partnership for Andy to understand a client's entire financial foundation, which is why he requires financial planning for his clients to help with investments, insurance, and other areas of need.
Outside of work, Andy spends his free time with his son Landon and daughter Addison while chasing them around to their sports teams or theater productions. He and his wife, Becky, enjoy traveling together and discovering the next best adventure. Andy served on the Duluth YMCA board for 10 years and as board chair and past chair for the final three. He loves to be outdoors in all four seasons, running, fat-tire biking, golfing, and skiing.
Thanks to our wonderful clients, Wheeler Associates has grown so much over the last decade that we are proud to be a referral-only practice! To explore a true partnership with Wheeler Associates, please reach out to any member of our team to set up a complimentary wealth review.
Patrick Heffernan, CLTC®, CEBS
Employee Benefits Director / Partner
Pat Heffernan is a partner at Wheeler Associates and has been with the firm since 2003. He specializes in the employee benefits area and also works with individual insurance. Pat’s greatest joy and passion in his work is forging relationships with the incredible Wheeler team, clients, strategic partners, and many others as he firmly believes in building partnerships everywhere. A proud “Employee Benefits Nerd,” Pat looks to stay on top of the ever-changing industry and understand and forecast what is coming by reading, listening to, and attending just about anything he can find relating to the industry. Pat received the Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) designation from the Wharton School and has the Certification in Long-Term Care (CLTC®) designation.
Ryan Coole, ChFC®, CRPS®
Qualified Plan Director / Partner
Ryan has always been a bit of a geek when it comes to numbers. From the early years of sitting in 4th grade trying to complete the multiplication tables in the shortest amount of time to win the $1 bill from the teacher, his insatiable love of math was born. This started Ryan down the path appreciating the value of a dollar. He attributes his start in business to his grandfather Robert “Bob” DeSanto, the former owner of the Casa de Roma. Every Sunday was spent with his grandfather watching NFL football up until his passing in 1997. The respect and care for money were driven home by Grandpa Bob and Ryan has bestowed the same care of money with the clients of Wheeler Associates. Ryan focuses much of his time at Wheeler Associates assisting Qualified Plans and Participants to help them achieve their retirement goals. Whether he is leading a meeting with a retirement plan committee or helping an individual wealth management client create a financial plan, Ryan takes great pride in putting the client first.
Ryan has been a partner at Wheeler Associates for the past 8+ years. He holds the Chartered Financial Consultant® and Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist® designations as Wheeler Associates Qualified Plan Director. He brings broad experience to the qualified and nonqualified plan space, from sponsor to the participant. He excels in the management, process, and compliance of retirement plans. His commitment to education in this field has opened an innovative stream of revenue for Wheeler Associates and he was recognized in 2020 as a “Top 500” 401K advisor in the US by Financial Times Magazine.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth, Ryan received his BA in accounting while manning the Bulldog blue line for four unforgettable years. When he isn’t at work, you can usually find Ryan on the ice rink coaching hockey or sitting on the soccer field watching his daughters play. A Duluth East native, Ryan and his family of four beautiful women—Jodi (wife), Madison, Bailey, and Nora—reside in Lakeside (5 if you count Black Lab Juno). Ryan’s hobbies outside of his full-time job as family cheerleader include searching for the rare “5” hours to fit in golf and solo Minneapolis day trip concerts.
To review or inquire about an ERISA Qualified/Non-Qualified plan issue/question, please reach out to any member of our team to set up a free look under the hood.
2020 Financial Times 401 Retirement Advisers, created by Ignites Research. Presented in October 2020 for the preceding 12 months. 855 Advisors were considered, 401 Advisors were recognized. Advisors pay a fee to hold out marketing materials. Not indicative of advisor’s future performance. Your experience may vary. Click here for more award information.
Jim Wheeler, RHU
Benefit / Insurance Consultant
Jim, a native Duluthian, began his professional career as a life insurance agent with New England Financial after receiving his bachelor’s degree in business administration and human relations at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah.
As a young professional, Jim ultimately joined his father and brother at Wheeler Associates after gaining experience in sales positions. Over the years, Jim has utilized his knowledge to help educate employers, employees, families, and individuals on plan designs that best meet their needs. As a partner at Wheeler Associates, he recognizes the value in client relationships and holds their interests as his number-one priority. While helping to grow the family business, Jim is also actively involved in improving the insurance industry as a former life and qualifying member of the MDRT and current member of the NAHU's Leading Producers Round Table.
Jim’s passion to help better those around him extends beyond business operations. He is a trustee for the Duluth Area Family YMCA and First United Methodist Church, as well as a member of the Harbortown Rotary Club.
Jim and his wife, Ann, have been married for more than 30 years and have three children together: Tim, Sarah, and Mary Kate. He enjoys spending time outdoors, skiing, canoeing, and hunting. His love for traveling has taken him on several adventurous vacations over the years. During the summers of 1976–1978, Jim canoed more than 4,000 miles in the U.S. and Canada.
Director of Client Experience
As Director of Client Experience at Wheeler Associates, she takes pride in her passion for education and works with her clients to help them feel empowered around their benefits decisions.
Chelsea graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior with a degree in Communications. After spending about eight years in the hospitality industry after graduating, she was eager to stretch her intellectual muscle and joined the team at Wheeler Associates in 2014.
Chelsea is a proud graduate of Blandin Community Leadership Program, Leadership Duluth, Minnesota Young American Leaders Program and serves on The Duluth Bethel board of directors. In her spare time, she is a yoga instructor and you can often find her hiking through the Northwoods, mountain biking, spending time out on the calming waters of Lake Superior or trying her hand at baking up a delicious vegan dessert.
Group Services Director
After taking a leap of faith from the hospitality industry to the exciting world of employee benefits, Hannah joined the Wheeler Associates team in the spring of 2015. Her passion for helping people carried from the 10+ years of customer service to her role as Group Services Director. She thoroughly enjoys connecting with our clients daily, helping them navigate their insurance plans, educating on benefits and assisting with claims. Working in the employee benefits field has given Hannah the opportunity to flex her problem-solving muscle and provides a never-ending outlet for continuous learning & growth. Hannah obtained her Life & Health license in the spring of 2017 and seeks to further her education in the employee benefits field as she is finishing journey to obtain her CEBS designation in 2023.
Duluth became home to Hannah and her husband following their graduation from UMD. As a student, Hannah spent some time in the community but has become fully engrossed in the vibrant Duluth culture and enjoys every second of new experiences. She joined the Chamber Ambassadors in 2017 and was nominated Ambassador of the Year in 2021. Hannah was also honored to be considered in Duluth’s top 20 professionals under 40 in 2021. In 2023 Hannah is serving on the Association Board with the Duluth YMCA.
Hannah values the relationships she has made and will continue furthering her involvement and volunteer efforts in the community.
Hannah and her husband, Ryan, and daughter Parker enjoy spending time with friends, family, traveling and exploring Duluth! They venture with their 12-year-old canine companion Auggie, who joins them on almost every outing and appreciates the multitude of experiences Duluth has to offer.
2021 Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassador of the Year, created by Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. This recognition is based on outstanding service and support of the activities of area businesses, attending events, and promoting the city. Not specific to financial services and does not imply an endorsement, recommendation, or reflect the performance of the advisor.
2021 Duluth News Tribune 20 Under 40, created by Duluth News Tribune. Presented in September 2021. Award is given annually to young adults who are initiating change, acting on ideas, finding creative solutions and helping other humans. Not specific to financial services and does not imply an endorsement, recommendation, or reflect the performance of the advisor. Click here for more award information.
Individual Insurance Director
Emma was a five-sport athlete growing up, but truly excelled in the game of basketball. Her love and passion for the game led her to play for a brief time during her college years in two different programs. Emma also played junior college volleyball. Emma still spends time today playing women’s basketball leagues and pick-up games. Emma is currently wrapping up her second season as the Wrenshall High School girl’s varsity basketball head coach. Emma has been coaching for a total of six years. She has coached kiddos from the junior high level all the way up to varsity. Her enthusiasm and love of the game have not changed since her years on the court.
Tiffany Tomassoni, CFP®
Financial Adviser and 401(k) Education Director
Tiffany is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and the 401(k) Education Director at Wheeler Associates, where she helps individuals, businesses, and their employees plan for their retirement and other financial goals along the way. She joined the Wheeler Associates team in February of 2018 and came from a background in the finance, teaching, insurance, and sales industries. Over the years, she has developed a knack for using those teaching abilities and applying them to the financial industry in helping individuals and families plan for their future.
Tiffany is currently on the Board of Directors for the Northern Lights Foundation, which helps raise funds for grants that are provided to local families that have a child that was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. She is a board member and participant for Never Surrender’s ALS Black Woods Blizzard Tour, which is a 450+ mile snowmobile ride that raises funds for ALS. Tiffany is also a current participant in the Leadership Duluth program and recently joined the membership committee at APEX.
Tiffany is a proud Iron Ranger, born and raised in Hibbing, Minnesota. She attended college at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and graduated in 2011 with a degree in education and a minor in psychology. She has been in the Twin Ports area for over 16 years and genuinely enjoys the people, businesses, and everything it has to offer.
Tiffany and her husband, Dante, currently live in Hermantown, where they are raising two highly energetic toddlers: Cecilia and Crosby. When she is not chasing the little ones around, she enjoys spending time on the lake up north, attempting to improve her horrible golf game, trying out new recipes, snowmobiling, skiing, attending wine club, bocce ball league, and book club. She loves to try new things and check items off her bucket list—a couple of the more notable items checked off that list were running Grandma’s Marathon, skydiving, and becoming a mom.
Wealth Management Associate
Neil joined the Wheeler Associates team in March of 2022 after almost eight years in the automotive industry at Kolar Toyota in Duluth. A lifelong Duluthian, he grew up in Lakeside and would go on to attend UMD, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in education. Cooperative problem-solving (teamwork) and education have always been a passion of his, so it is easy to see how he found his way into the financial service industry. He learned the value of a dollar early on from his yia-yia (Greek term for grandma) and parents, who, together, taught him the importance of saving money, and financial education. He looks forward to using his knowledge and skills in customer service, problem-solving, and education to collaborate with clients on all aspects of wealth management.
Outside of work, Neil is a proud husband to his wife, Abby, father of two (Nina, 3; Patrick, 1), and dog dad to two more. The Larsons spend a lot of their free time outdoors, camping, hiking, and traveling by land and air, usually to some type of beach or a snowy mountain. The sandy south shore of Lake Superior in the UP is one of their favorite spots to visit and camp. Aside from family, Neil enjoys time spent golfing and fishing with friends, meeting new people in the area, and keeping up on all Minnesota sports both local and professional.
Neil is excited to be a part of the Wheeler Associates team and is looking forward to building upon the foundation that has been laid, while also continuing to look for new and creative ways to better assist present and future clients.
Benefits Account Manager
Casey joined Wheeler Associates in June of 2023 after a 9-year career working in employee management. From a start in hospitality, to home health and veterinary medicine it seemed the only logical step was to join the employee benefits world. He believes that his time spent working through benefits on the back end leading a team gives him a unique perspective and ability to navigate obstacles and challenges that our clients are facing.
Casey grew up in Duluth and has never left. After attending UMD and graduating with majors in Business Management and Psychology he and his wife, Cecelia, have laid down roots and plan to make this their home for years to come. The ever-bustling outdoor scene is what keeps them occupied, from hiking and running to cross country skiing and kayaking, there's truly something for every season. On a beautiful Duluth Summer night, you may even find them hanging out on their patio with their two cats (George and Opal).
He currently serves on the St. Luke's Patient and Families Advisory Council and has also served time on the board for the Northland Human Resource Association. He's excited to continue connecting with people in the community and forging strong relationships along the way.