When Matt Bushard looks at a number, it’s not just a figure on a page. He sees the start of a story – a mystery to solve and a truth to be revealed the more he continues to dig.
“Numbers can open up another world,” Matt explains. “When you’re visiting with clients, and they tell you about their financial philosophy, the truth is always in the numbers.”
As a child in Winona, Minn., Matt used to work on his math homework after school with his grandpa – a successful businessman.
“Those are memories I’ll never forget,” Matt affirms.
While his grandpa passed away when Matt was in middle school, their time together motivated Matt to pursue a career working with numbers.
“I’ve always been a numbers person and very detail-oriented,” Matt remarks. “For a while I was planning to be a math teacher, because I do like educating people, but then I started exploring other fields related to math and considered becoming an accountant.”
During spring semester of his senior year at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., where Matt majored in accounting and minored in economics, he started working as a part-time Bell Bank teller. That job would take Matt down an unexpected, yet incredibly fulfilling, path toward a career that lets him put his math and teaching skills to work helping people map out their financial futures.
“I am a firm believer that we don’t have as much control of our path in life as we might like to think,” Matt comments.
After graduation, Matt worked as a full-time teller for a bit before becoming a customer service representative. As he continued to climb the banking ladder, he learned how much he appreciated the relationship-building aspect of working in finance. He especially enjoyed helping people solve difficult financial problems.
As more and more wealth management advisors started referring clients to Matt for their banking matters, he became increasingly interested in wealth management. When a position as a trust specialist opened up in December of 2013, he took it, diving head-first into the operational and administrative side of supporting clients and advisors.
“What I had learned in customer service really helped me in working with wealth management clients,” Matt notes.
It seemed Matt had found his calling, so when the opportunity arose for him to grow and challenge himself by earning his Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation, he pursued it. Dividing his work between assisting advisors and helping with financial planning, Matt honed his expertise in analyzing data and compiling reports and presentations for advisors and clients.
“I truly love helping people with their finances by giving them a roadmap of where they’re at, where they’re trying to go and how we can help them get there,” Matt says. “I still love working with numbers, but as my career has progressed, I’ve found it’s the people and relationships that have really made this a meaningful career.”
In May of 2016, he received his CFP certification, changed titles, moved offices and never looked back.
“It was exciting to earn that designation, confirming my commitment to financial planning and giving advice to clients that is in their best interest,” Matt remarks.
Matt often works with clients who are starting to seriously think about retirement and want to make sure they’re on track and have saved enough – as well as younger professionals with high incomes who might need some help with their investments.
“We offer that added level of assistance, advice and service to help clients reach the next level in the best possible way,” Matt explains.
Matt likens the importance of financial planning to using a map when you’re out on the road.
“A financial plan shows you where you are, where you want to go, and everything you can do to make sure you ultimately reach your destination,” Matt explains. “It’s never too early – or too late – to form a financial plan. When you’re young, you might not be thinking about retirement, but your decisions do impact it. Even once you’ve retired, a financial plan can help you with spending decisions as well as how to leave a legacy for your loved ones.”
This year, he’s also taken on a new role – leading the financial planning team. While he continues to work on building financial plans, meeting with clients, reviewing their results and making recommendations, Matt is taking his passion for financial planning and teaching his team members the ropes.
To further affirm that Matt is on the right career path, the American Bankers Association honored him with a national “40 Under 40” award in wealth management for being “committed to the highest standards of achievement” at work and in his community. Judging criteria included academic training, client relationship management and community and professional service.
“I never imagined my work would be something I would be recognized for. It’s pretty surreal,” Matt remarks. “My peers at Bell nominated me, and it means a lot that they see the good, honest, hard work I do on behalf of the bank and our clients.”
Not FDIC insured | May lose value | Not financial institution guaranteed | Not a deposit | Not insured by any federal government