Today we’d like to introduce you to Matt Showley.
Matt, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am a San Diego native and attended Francis Parker School. As part of my graduation requirement, I was able to get an internship with an experienced financial advisor that piqued my interest in a profession that I knew very little about. Fast forward to three years later and I had my first summer in college at Pepperdine University where I was able to look for a job, and I again wanted to learn more about what types of career opportunities there could be as a financial advisor. The only problem was that by the end of that summer, I didn’t like what I saw in that career. I didn’t like that I felt like I was helping a team sell investment products to people that didn’t know that something was being sold to them. Clients were told one thing and from my view, as a summer intern, they were getting something that wasn’t all the good for them. So I turned my attention to other careers thinking that this wasn’t for me.
Fast forward three more years – I’m in my first year of business school at the University of San Diego and I had a project that would ultimately have a big impact on my future career. I had not thought much about becoming a financial advisor since my unsavory experience in college, but I came across an acquaintance who was starting a career as a financial advisor,, but what he was doing sounded so much different from what I had experienced in my first two stints as an intern in that industry. So my interest renewed and I decided to do my upcoming project on this different approach to being a financial advisory – which is known as a fee-only Registered Investment Advisor (RIA).
What I learned was that there was a thriving community of advisors who have independent businesses that they direct. These advisors work with clients on either an hourly basis or for a percentage fee paid by the client. They don’t earn commissions and don’t sell investment products. This was very different from the commission-only world that I had seen in high school and college. It is not that I thought there was anything wrong with a commission or selling a product, I just knew it wasn’t for me and that it wasn’t what I wanted for my career. Once I learned that there was a way to have a career in financial services and work with a client in the same way that an accountant or an attorney would work with a client – for a fee – it all started to click for me. I quickly tried to survey the local fee-only RIA community and interviewed with several local firms as I approached the end of my MBA program at USD.
I was fortunate to find a firm that was a great fit for me, offered a wonderful learning and growth environment, and provided the career opportunities that I was hoping to find. I had always wanted to be a business owner of some kind and I wanted to help people while doing something that I enjoyed. Helping people understand what money can and can’t do for them was a key part of what I learned early on as an employee of CCMI. I soon found that I was acting more as a financial educator in working with clients to help them understand what it was we were recommending to them. We would get thank you cards, thankful emails, and such great feedback from clients that it was truly rewarding to be able to help people and make a difference in their lives. All the while, I was learning more and more about something that was always and interest of mine.
As the years passed, I then had the opportunity to buy half of the company that I had been working for over the past 11 years. I always knew this opportunity could be available but it was never assured. I think my approach to taking a long-term view of my career allowed me to be patient, to spend the time learning the profession, and I felt that at some point things would work out well for me. I was fortunate to be able to buy half of the company along with buy business partner in May of 2017. Now our goal as owners is to continue the legacy of the firm we acquired and to maintain and grow one of the leading fee-only wealth management firms in San Diego.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
There are always challenges to address, and I’ve been fortunate to plan ahead and be prepared for what has come my way, and as a result, I haven’t had a monumental challenge to overcome. I learned at an early age by competing in all kinds of sports that things don’t always go your way but practice and preparation go a long way to giving give you a chance to succeed.. Lessons learned from winning and losing at many levels of high school, club and college sports allowed me to take on the obstacles that got in my way and have confidence that if I keep working hard, do the right thing, and keep trying, that things will continue to work out.
My first big obstacle professionally was the financial crisis of 2008 when I had only been on the job for 2 years. It was obviously a difficult time for clients and advisors and there were a number of tough conversations had with our team and our clients. I was fortunate to be in those meetings and hear the real concerns of our clients as they watched years of savings erode due to to the financial crisis. But I learned that there is much more to this business than just the numbers and that even though the numbers matter, they often aren’t the most important thing for a client.
There was a week in the depths of the 2008 market where the owners of our firm were out of town at a professional conference and I was fielding calls from concerned clients. It could have been terrible for me, but one of the things I always remember about that time in 2008 was how often I thought back to a job I had right after college and before business school. I was a Front Desk clerk at the Shores Hotel in La Jolla, and on multiple occasions, I had to do the most terrifying thing, something far more terrifying than anything I’ve encountered with clients or financial markets.
There were a few unfortunate times when the hotel was overbooked and I would have to tell a guest that we didn’t have a room for them despite their reservation on file. It was awful. The worst occasion was a family of four from Ohio who had traveled all day to get to San Diego to start their family vacation. They were the last people to arrive that night and at 11 pm I had to tell them that we didn’t have a room available. Nothing that I’ve encountered since then was as hard to do than to have to share that kind of message.
When I work with clients now, I get to solve problems, educate, guide and help people walk out of our office with answers and hopefully peace of mind. So when a challenge comes up in our office I feel that a) it can’t be worse than what I had to do at the hotel and that b) by relying on my experience I’ll be able to find a way to get through it one way or the other.
Please tell us about Creative Capital Management Investments.
Creative Capital Management Investments is a fee-only wealth management firm where we offer hourly financial planning to business owners, executives, and their families as well as diversified portfolio management focusing on long-term results and reasonable risk-adjusted returns. We also have developed a financial planning platform that can help younger families who are accumulating wealth and starting the financial planning process for the first time.
We like to educate our clients so that they know why we are making the specific recommendations that we provide. We help them reach whatever their financial goals are and we hope that by being a part of their advisory team they can worry less about money and spend more time focusing on their business, family, travel or whatever else is most important to them.
What is unique about our firm is that we can work with many different types of clients. We are independent, we act as fiduciaries to our clients, and we can work with them on an hourly basis to complete simple and complex financial plans, or as portfolio managers for clients who meet our investment minimum. We have the flexibility to work with clients either area or both. It is not a requirement that clients use both of our services, which is not often found in firms like ours.
Our firm has been named one of the ten best advisors in San Diego by an independent review at AdvisoryHQ for the past four years. But what I am most proud of is how our firm has handled our recent ownership transition and still kept our focus on serving clients, and for how wonderful our clients have been as we have transitioned to the next generation of CCMI.
If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Honestly, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I am right where I hoped I would be personally and professionally when I started this journey 12 years ago and I don’t have any regrets.
- Address: 8880 Rio San Diego Drive #1150
San Diego, CA 92108
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- Phone: 619-298-3993
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