Investment Management for Serious Investors
About Michael McKee
Owner and CEO
Certified Financial Planner
Mike created Inspire Capital in April 2003. He’s an expert investment advisor and financial planner. He works with clients throughout the United States as a personal, outsourced CFO.
Mike has embraced the fee-only, planning model and does not charge sales commissions for his services. He is proud to be completely independent from any interested third parties. This independence has created an environment that supports innovation and the opportunity to work side by side with his client base in a genuine fashion.
Along with coaching Little League baseball, he is an active philanthropist and serves on numerous charitable boards. Mike has earned a Certified Financial Planner™ designation. He has an undergraduate degree in Economics, and an M.B.A. in Finance/Management from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. He lives in Maitland, Florida with his wife and 2 sons.
The Inspired Story of Inspire Capital
Looking back, I remember first getting started in the financial services industry. I had just passed the Series 7 and was starting up as a registered representative with a local investment firm. It didn’t take long to realize that I was not an analyst. It wasn’t my job to analyze investment portfolios and work with the clients to better their financial position. Instead, my job was to sell. Period. Sell. Sell. Sell. After about a year as a salesman, I decided that it wasn’t for me. Although I was fairly successful, I enjoyed teaching and working with clients to help them achieve their financial goals. There is an inherent conflict of interest created in every sales/client relationship. I had to sell to earn sales commissions to make a living. Teaching and counselling were incidental. Instead, I was told to forget about teaching and remember my ABC’s – “Always Be Closing”. There had to be a better way of working for my clients, instead of working off of them.
Financial planning seemed like a good idea – or at least a step in the right direction – so I changed jobs and went to work for a local financial planning firm. There I became acquainted with what’s known as fee-only financial planning. A fee-only planner is hired on retainer by the client as opposed to charging sales commissions for product sales. This enables the planner to work solely for his/her clients instead of some other financial firm that pays out a percentage of sales commissions. Still, I wasn’t enamored by the typical investment strategy utilized by almost all financial planners. Buy and hold, asset allocation based upon a contrived risk level seemed silly. You’re literally guaranteed to lose money every time the market goes down. Shouldn’t there be a legitimate downside strategy beyond just doing nothing and “riding it out”?
The more sophisticated planners were using certain aspects of Modern Portfolio Theory (MPT) to help manage risk. There are obvious benefits to utilizing MPT, but the fact was, and still is, MPT isn’t so modern anymore. It was created back in the 1950s and the financial markets have changed drastically since then. Allocation strategies appeared stunningly outdated as a result. There was a breakdown in the application of MPT. Upon further research, I found that others had similar ideas to my own. The “big money” didn’t just ride the market and hope for the best. There was a whole other world out there.
Thinking like an entrepreneur and always striving for something better, I started asking more and more questions about the financial services industry. One afternoon, I wondered, “As a client, what would I want out of my financial advisor?” (Note: the term “planner” or “advisor” essentially mean the same thing.) The ideas flowed fast and furious! I remember how excited I was. I could barely get the ideas written down fast enough.
At first, I was coming up with some of the obvious criteria one would expect:
- I want someone to give me straight answers that I can understand.
- I want customized advice and service from a seasoned professional.
- I want a higher quality of services for a lower fee.
- I want to work with someone I can trust.
Before long, it dawned on me that there was much more beyond the obvious and somewhat mundane. In a perfect world, what else would I really want?
- I deserve a financial advisor that is independent from other service providers.
- I deserve quality advice without paying hefty sales commissions. Or better yet, why pay sales commissions at all?
- I deserve an independent financial advisor to represent me and negotiate multiple bids with third party service providers on my behalf.
- I deserve to receive comprehensive, customized services specifically for my unique situation.
- I deserve to never be surprised by hidden fees. I want to know exactly what I’m paying.
- I deserve more than the typical retail, “buy and hope” style of investment management.
- I deserve the same high quality, investment management services provided to the very wealthiest institutional clients.
Before long, it became apparent that I had just built the basic framework of a “better mousetrap”. The concept of always “putting the client first” changed everything! This was distinctly different from every financial planning/investment firm that I had ever seen or worked with. Financial service firms (like most companies) are created to make as much money as possible from each client. The 180 degree turn to the “Client First” concept now focused on making as much money as possible for each client.
The more I thought about the list I had put together, the more I realized it was going to work! Fee-only financial planning eliminated the need for sales commissions. Leveraged index funds, exchange traded funds, online-discount brokers, the continued rise of foreign markets, and most notably the advances in desktop computing and internet technology made the once impossible – possible. I saw no particular reason why retail clients shouldn’t receive the equivalent quality of high end, investment management services of the wealthiest institutional clients. Frankly, now that I thought about it I realized there was an opportunity to do a much better job even for the wealthiest! Eliminate the use of overpriced hedge funds and increase transparency, greatly reduce fees, and simplify the entire process in a separate account environment!
Eventually, I calmed down enough to begin thinking about what happens next. This new company needed a name. I wanted something with a descriptive, positive ring to it. “Inspire” seemed to fit the bill. After all, this was an “inspired” idea brought about by simply thinking from the client’s viewpoint.
Inspire Capital Management LLC opened for business in April 2003.
Michael McKee, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™