Q&A With Peter Mallouk: More From Ingram’s 2024 Executive of the Year

By Dennis Boone

CEO of Creative Planning Peter Mallouk.

Creative Planning, the Overland Park wealth-management firm, ended 2023 with nearly $230 billion in assets under management or advisement. CEO Peter Mallouk shared some observations about the journey from a boutique advisory firm in 2004 to a national powerhouse firm in 20 years.

Posted February 8, 2024

"I am focused on having the best offering possible for clients and having Creative Planning be the best place to work."

Q: Who did you look up to early in your career as pinnacle examples of wealth-management executive leadership, and what did you adopt from them that has been most influential in the firm’s growth? Who do you hold in that kind of esteem today?

A: One of the advantages of my early role was I was in the room with hundreds of advisors – planners, investment managers, lawyers and accountants. I learned so much from so many of them. From most, I picked up new subject matter expertise or other tips on how to best advise a client. From a few, it was reinforced to me what not to do, which is just as important.


Q: Have you grown big enough to bend the curve within the sector to create a model for premier-level client service? It’s about more than just zeroes in portfolios, is it not?

A: I believe so. When we first put this offering together, there wasn’t anything like it at scale anywhere in the country. Now, many firms are emulating the general idea of providing investment management through a more holistic lens at a minimum, or by trying to solve other problems for clients in house.


Q: Tell us a bit about how you went about constructing the strategic processes for determining acquisition targets and finalizing deals (and how those processes had to evolve as you grew).

A: We are in a fairly unique spot in that we don’t have a team that is hunting for firms to acquire. Our space is highly fragmented and there are only a few larger players. As smaller firms think about selling, they know us well enough to know if we are a potential fit, and they proactively reach out. From there, we have a screening process that narrows down the firms we will get to know, and we tend to do 4 to 15 deals a year. I expect us to focus on fewer acquisitions going forward, but I have learned to not make predictions around it!


Q: What can you say about the people aspect—the recruitment and retention of the talent that allowed that level of success to happen?

A: Easily the top reason Creative Planning is where it is today is that we have an incredibly strong leadership team, and they do an excellent job of screening talent, training and mentoring. We tend to attract very competent, consultative people who are driven to perform. When you put people like that in a supportive culture with a lot of tools to serve clients and great leaders, good things happen.


Q: What message(s) do you most consistently drive to your team in terms of creating the balance that yields success for clients, for advisers and for the firm?

A: Think about the client ALL. THE. TIME. What does the client want? What else can we do for the client? Is there a way to deliver this to the client more clearly? Or faster? Or more seamlessly?


Q: Perhaps with as many offices as you have now, the siting of a corporate headquarters becomes less of a factor, but even so: Why Kansas City?

A: Kansas City is a big part of our success. This is a talent game, and we have so many professionals in our backyard. We have been able to build such a strong core in Kansas City and nearly all our leadership is in our KC headquarters as well.


Q: Given all that . . . just how big can this get?

A: I have no idea. I am grateful for where we are, and I am not focused on size. I am focused on having the best offering possible for clients and having Creative Planning be the best place to work. I know if we can maintain those two things, we will be successful, and whatever that looks like is good by me.