As a standout high school and college athlete, Cody Matthews had a track record of success on the football field. After college, it was time to find a career that will allow him to passionately apply his discipline and grit for a worthy business cause.
Matthews zigzagged across the country before landing in his current role as a Financial Representative at Northwestern Mutual. Originally from Houston, Texas — where football is practically a religion – Matthews received a scholarship to play at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. “I knew I wanted to graduate with a skill, so I chose accounting for my major,” Matthews says. “I thought that could open a lot of doors for me.”
He was right. In 2011, Matthews was recruited to a respected, nationwide accounting firm and passed the CPA exam right away. What came next was what Matthews calls a “corny accounting love story.” He met his wife, a Louisville native and fellow CPA, at a professional development workshop. After a very brief courtship, Matthews proposed, got married, and started looking for opportunities in Louisville.
In April 2013, he signed on with Ernst & Young in Louisville and began working with clients all over the country. “I traveled a lot and got a lot of great experience, but I was starting to wonder whether public accounting was really a match for my skill set,” he says.
Matthews started doing his homework. During a conversation with a former teammate, who is now with Northwestern Mutual in Dallas, financial services became a possibility. “He told me, ‘I can only think of a couple of people who could do this work better than I could, and you’re one of them. If you don’t do it, you’re stupid,’” Matthews recalls.
The former teammate introduced Matthews to Michael Bush, Managing Director of Northwestern Mutual’s East Louisville office. It felt like a great fit right away, Matthews says.
“(Michael) understood that I was not the traditional hire because I’m not from Louisville, I didn’t have a natural market,” he says. “I felt the best way I could learn was to go along on client visits with veteran advisers. I got to see the best of the best and ask them about their process. That was crucial to getting off to a good start.”
From there, Matthews says he was “like the toy car that you pull back and then you let it go.” He set about networking through LinkedIn and other online channels, reconnecting with contacts in Texas and Arkansas, and developing relationships with his wife’s family and friends in Louisville. “People who already knew me were interested in knowing how I had ended up in Louisville, which was a great way to get a conversation going,” he says.
Matthews’ ability to win clients outside of Louisville is both a sign of his skill and tenacity, but also likely a trend away from the old school way of doing business in financial services. “My business is about 50% in person and the other half is people who I know in other cities or have only dealt with online and over the phone,” he says. “Some people will always want to work with a financial professional they can see face to face. It’s a personal preference.”
Matthews’ philosophy is centered on personal attention and providing solutions that help clients meet their goals. He also relies on his CPA background and knowledge base in tax-efficient savings plans.
“I start by asking people what’s important to them,” he says, “and nothing feels greater to me than when someone says, ‘I can tell you put a lot of work into this.” “I want to make sure that when a major event in someone’s life occurs, that we have adequately planned for its financial impact.”
Matthews also attributes his success to the support he’s received from other associates at Northwestern Mutual. “The best work relationships I’ve ever had have been built here in a short time,” he says. “I can’t tell you how many handwritten notes I’ve gotten from other team members encouraging me, congratulating me.” I have two great mentors in Matt Moore and Michael Bush, and a great support team.
Matthews says he knows he’s lucky to have found a place where he has earned clients’ respect and trust, is achieving his careers goals, and has a chance to give back. “I work at the best firm,” he says. “I’m never going anywhere.”
To learn more about working alongside Cody Matthews and the Northwestern Mutual team here in Louisville, email Elizabeth Rivers.
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Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, Milwaukee, WI and its subsidiaries.