Why I Give Back: A Q&A with Matthew Peterson, LPL Research
LPL Research Senior Vice President Matthew Peterson recently served as the corporate host for the LPL Financial Foundation’s fourth annual Personal Finance Symposium to educate local high school students. Organized in partnership with Junior Achievement, the event gathered LPL employee volunteers and 80 Garinger High School students to explore the fundamentals of personal finances, including topics such as saving, budgeting, and credit and risk management.
As an engaged employee volunteer at LPL-- taking advantage of the 16 hours of Volunteer Time Off provided annually to employees-- Matthew provided his perspective on the value of employee volunteerism and the value it delivers to him and the community.
Q: Tell us first about your own educational background and how you evolved your career to this point with LPL?
Matthew: In college, I majored in political science and interned for a congressman and a federal judge and also worked as an environmental lobbyist. After I graduated from University of Connecticut, I enrolled in a dual-degree program, attending University of Pittsburgh School of Law for my J.D. and Carnegie Mellon for my MBA. In pursuing my dual degree, I ultimately decided I wanted to go into the business field. I began my career at a start-up financial services firm, which eventually grew and I became a partner. From there, I worked in emerging markets and equities for nine years. In the summer of 2015, I joined LPL to get back in the financial services space.
Q: What does your role at LPL entail?
Matthew: As Chief Wealth Strategist, I am involved in a lot of new initiatives and projects within the Research department. Part of the my role is to be a member of LPL’s High Net Worth (HNW) team, which supports advisors working with HNW clients to create financial plans that address the needs of their unique goals. Assisting people on their risks and portfolios has always been a passion of mine and I love getting to spend my days focusing on the pure nuts and bolts of investments at LPL.
Q: How long have you been volunteering through LPL? What events have you been a part of?
Matthew: I’ve been giving back to the community through LPL Foundation events since I came to LPL last year. In addition to the recent Junior Achievement Personal Finance Symposium, I was the corporate host for the Big Brothers Big Sisters Beyond School Walls program that launched with Fort Mill Middle School last fall. And I will be a panelist at an upcoming Junior Achievement Explore Your Future event to talk to high school students about career choices and planning.
Q: How does your role translate into the volunteer opportunities you are a part of at LPL?
Matthew: In my professional experience, I’ve learned that people often don’t approach their investments from a long-term perspective. Even people who have been very successful in some aspects of their life have been lousy at managing their personal finances. I’ve also learned that the more you make, the more you spend. It’s nice to be able to take that experience and insight and teach teens that having more zeros in your bank account does not change the dynamics of understanding your needs. Sharing with them the need to have a financial plan and balancing long-term and short-term savings goals allows me to share what I know in a realistic way.
Q: Why do you give back through LPL?
Matthew: I have 15-year-old twins and many times I sit around the dinner table and think, “Wow. My children are privileged. We regularly talk about colleges, money and their futures.” This makes me consider the young adults that don’t have the same resources that my children have. They may not get advice on which college to attend or how to save. I choose to give back through LPL so I can impart my knowledge to those who may not have awareness. Having the whole company involved means that we can each “scale up” our involvement, presenting all LPL employees with volunteer opportunities that none of us would have on our own. Having the opportunity to bridge the gaps and find teachable moments is what keeps me volunteering. It’s also great to meet colleagues from other areas of the company that I probably would not get to meet otherwise.
Q: What has been the most impactful experience you have had and why?
Matthew: I have done a little teaching on the side (adjunct faculty) and the students sometimes learn much more from each other than they do from their teachers. In the recent Personal Finance Symposium, one of the topics we discussed was 401(k) plans. We asked the students if they knew what a 401(k) was and if they had a plan set up through their employer. One of the students raised his hand. He told the group that he works at a local grocery store and puts $25 into his 401(k) every paycheck. I stood up and high-fived him! I told him that in 30 to 40 years, he will be so happy he started when he was this young. This topic evoked conversation in the room and by the time we left, everyone knew the importance of a 401(k). It was a small moment, but you could see the impact. We didn’t create that interaction, but by putting together the event, we allowed it to happen. Those are the moments that matter.