Collage of various business elements, success concept

Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

When Mark Matthews goes home for the holidays, there’s a routine. First, eat. Second, find the nearest basketball court. “We’re very competitive,” Matthews says, “everyone plays sports; everyone sings in the choir; everyone knows how to cook.”

Home, for Matthews, is Detroit and a family of five sisters and brothers, who all played football and basketball through school. “My older brothers think because they’ve been around longer, they know more about sports,” he says with a laugh. “But me and my younger brother – we’re younger, so we know we’re better.”

Matthews’ father, a former all-city running back, taught his kids to put everything on the field. “He didn’t come to every game, but when he did it was time to show up,” Matthews says. “Letting him down was not something you wanted to do.”

Today, Matthews is a junior investment research analyst at CLS Investments in Omaha, NE. where he combines his fiercely competitive streak with a love for numbers and learning. “I want to wake up every day being better than the guy I was yesterday,” he says. “A continuous improvement, a continuous battle to reach the pinnacle.”

Hit the Ground Running

Matthews went to Benedict College in South Carolina after high school where he played football and studied accounting – he’d always loved math – but after he took a class in finance, there was no going back. “Finance is one of few things outside of sports that allows you to fuel that competitive spirit,” he says. It also feeds his natural curiosity. “The surface is never what it is with finance – you have to dig deeper,” he says. ““That sort of mystery – that changing dynamic is always drawing me.”

After college, Matthews looked around for graduate universities where he could get a head start online and found Creighton, a respected name in the financial world that shares a hometown and investment philosophy with another respected name, Warren Buffett. “Buying a dollar for 50 cents,” Matthews recalls. “First class I ever had. I’ll never forget it.” That lesson instilled an admiration for value investing and for Buffett. “I’ve read his book three times,” he says, “and I’ve watched [a documentary about him] more times than I care to admit.”

In 2014, Matthews decided the online path wasn’t providing enough networking opportunities, so he made the move to Omaha. “I came here with the mentality of hitting the ground running,” he says, “to take advantage of every opportunity that would get me closer to where I wanted to go.” Soon, he landed an internship at TD Ameritrade and after graduating with his MBA at Creighton, was offered a job at CLS. There, the portfolio management team’s mantra of fighting for every extra basis point is a natural fit. “I’m motivated by competition,” he says. “I’m success-driven, goal-driven, end-result driven. I want to be the first one there and the last one to leave.”

While he loves the path he’s chosen, Matthews is still working to reach that pinnacle – the center of the global financial industry. “Wall Street has to be the goal,” he says. “Why get into something not to be the best at it?” He also wants to get back to Detroit one day and invest in his city. It was just two years ago that it filed for bankruptcy, the largest in U.S. history. Witnessing that gave Matthews an appreciation for the consequences of financial mismanagement, and he wants to do what he can to help his hometown right itself.

But, for now, he’ll get by with going home for the holidays. When he texted his older brother to let him know his plans, he got one right back. “Hope you’ve been practicing.”