Content provided by Robyn Murray, Freelance Writer

Mike Nixon was taught to invest by his grandmother. She bought stocks that he picked out when he was little and taught him about knowing the companies he was buying into and looking for ones that pay dividends. In a recent interview, Nixon recalled liking the idea of being part of something. “You could be part of Coca-Cola,” he said, “and your money could work for you.”

Nixon’s grandmother was a teacher in a small, rural Missouri town. Her husband passed away when she was in her mid-40s, leaving her with a child to raise on a small salary. She needed additional income, so she started investing. She had a knack for it. “She did well,” Nixon said. “She never had any trouble sustaining her lifestyle.”

When Nixon was 17, his grandmother gave him some money as a gift, and he made his first investment. Mutual funds, he recalls. Today, he works with financial advisors around the country helping them find solutions for investors and ensuring they succeed. Nixon knows the value of investing, the impact it can make on someone’s life. But what really keeps him invested in his work is people.

“It could be fabulous, or it could be strange”

Mike Nixon grew up in Omaha and went to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to get his bachelor’s degree. While he knew he was interested in finance, he wasn’t sure that’s what he wanted to do. He started out getting general credits with an idea for a business degree, but when he enrolled in some finance courses, he decided that was a fit. His interests, however, were still broader than finance, so instead of minoring in economics, he went for psychology.

How people think has always interested him, he said, and today he often finds his psychology training helps him more than his finance degree. “It’s easier to do my job if I understand where people are coming from,” he said, “if I understand what their concerns are, even if they don’t really say them.”

Nixon has now been at CLS Investments for 19 years (he started two days after graduating). The company has grown not just in the number of employees, but in quality too, he said. It’s become more innovative with technology and boasts numerous CFAs on staff, a rarity in the past.

For 15 of those years, Nixon has been on the road. He is Senior Vice President of Regional Sales and works with financial advisors in nine states. He loves meeting them, he said, because their different backgrounds make them particularly interesting people. Some were engineers before advising, some were teachers. For most it’s a second career. “It’s fascinating for me to learn about different people,” he said. “The people I find the most interesting are the ones who have a real entrepreneurial spirit, who are looking to grow their business, who are trying to innovate.”

Nixon also loves that every day and every meeting is different. “It could be fabulous,” he said, “or it could be strange.”

When Nixon is not at work or on the road, he’s taking care of his three kids, traveling in the mountains, snorkeling in the ocean, or dreaming of his cabin in the woods where he hopes to find time to unwind one day.

But no matter what, he’ll always be investing – and remembering his grandmother, a single mother who took charge of her finances and was successful enough to keep her family afloat through tragedy.

“I see the potential if people do things the right way,” Nixon said. “They can have a better life; they can have freedom.”