KC Mathews serves as executive vice president, chief investment officer for UMB Bank. With more than 30 years of experience, he’s learned the formula for creating a raving fan.
Start with service
My love for investing started when I was a young boy. My grandfather was a plasterer and he would take me to his broker’s office and show me the ropes. He suggested I either needed to become a right fielder or a stockbroker. So, I went to school and became a broker.
Working as a broker was terrific experience where I learned how to generate leads and use my farm-upbringing-work-ethic to launch my career. I quickly learned I wanted to be on the client side and use my knowledge to help families grow and preserve their wealth. After serving as a portfolio manager for Bank of Oklahoma, I joined UMB and grew in my career to lead UMB’s portfolio management team.
If you look at a job description for a member of my team or my job description, it would include key words about developing, implementing and executing an investment strategy at UMB. But when I boil it down, I say my team and I are here to make the clients happy. I always tell people I am in the customer service business.
During my decades in the industry, I’ve leaned heavily on a book titled, Raving Fans: A Revolutionary Approach to Customer Service, by Sheldon Bowles and Ken Blanchard. The focus of the book is to prove you can’t just provide great service; you have to create raving fans. This idea guides how I lead the portfolio management team for UMB. I keep copies in my office and give them out to my new team members. I want everyone to read and understand this book as we serve our clients.
I truly believe if I take care of UMB’s clients, they will take care of UMB. I work hard to ensure my teams are doing what’s best for the client in all instances.
Next, build the strategy
When we start our relationship with a client, we try to understand as much about them as possible. We want to know their hopes, dreams, goals, values – anything that guides their life. Capturing all of this information informs the strategy and recommendations we make to help our clients achieve their goals. We have to fully understand what our customers want to discern what they need.
When we come together as a team to build an investment strategy for our clients after learning about them, one of the first questions I ask to the room is, “What do you think?” I believe working with a collaborative team helps us best support our clients and make them happy. We need as many ideas as possible and as many different perspectives as possible to ensure we are nimble and creative when serving our clients.
We build and execute individual investment plans, but then take it a step further and spend the time educating our clients about our recommendations. My team serves a multi-faceted role as part student (learning from our clients and the industry), part psychologist (educating our clients and helping them understand how to make their goals come to life) and part investment advisor (serving as stewards of our clients’ funds).
I’ve learned customers usually want to make a lot of money without taking on a lot of risk. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done, which is why we have to help educate our clients and bring them along the journey – which in turn helps create raving fans.
Finally, don’t make it personal
For our clients, we help take the emotion out of their decisions. Especially as we navigate the pandemic, the market is shifting daily. I encourage my clients to turn off the news, take a break and lean on the recommendations we provide. We have a full team of analysts who are constantly looking at data to help us serve our clients in the best way possible. So, from the client perspective, take a day off and let us do the worrying and heavy lifting.
Even though I didn’t become a right fielder like my grandfather suggested, I did evolve into a player and a coach in my career. I manage investment strategies for my clients and help them make sound decisions and I also coach my team as they support our clients and educate them about our recommendations. As long as we help our clients achieve their goals and build trusting relationships, I believe we can create raving fans.
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