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Peter Mallouk, Creative Planning President and CEO

Practice Management > Building Your Business > Leadership

Peter Mallouk's Predictions for Advisors, Firms and the Markets in 2024

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Creative Planning President and CEO Peter Mallouk had a very busy 2023. 

The firm he leads made six acquisitions, including its Aug. 28 purchase of the former United Capital wealth business from Goldman Sachs which included roughly $29 billion in assets under supervision. Creative Planning had $245 billion in total assets when the deal was announced.

That big development came just a month after the RIA had set up a new custody relationship with Goldman.

Mallouk, who has led the firm for over 25 years — since he got his MBA and law degree from the University of Kansas — is also active on broadcast and social media and regularly appears on several podcast series to discuss investing and other financial issues.

In mid-December, he weighed in on Dave Ramsey’s view that retirees could withdraw 8% a year if they had a 100% stock portfolio, for instance. “While I believe he has done a lot of good for many, especially when it comes to debt management, following this advice is a path to financial destruction,” Mallouk posted on X, formerly Twitter.

Before 2023 ended, he joined ThinkAdvisor by phone to look back and ahead at his firm, the wealth management business and the markets in the following interview: 

THINKADVISOR: What do you view as Creative Planning’s top accomplishment of 2023?

PETER MALLOUK: What we are proudest of is that we really got all of our different services [groups] to communicate with each other efficiently, and we really built out our leadership infrastructure. These were two big, long ongoing projects we finally completed this past year. 

All the leaders have worked to really get this put together. … It was [also] a lot of technology combined with leadership, but a huge investment from the technology team and our operations team made it happen. 

What was the firm Creative Planning’s top challenge of 2023?

The biggest challenge by far was that we nearly doubled the number of people with Creative Planning. And during that doubling, we also brought in over another 15,000 or so clients. 

It was the velocity of activity that was a challenge for us, and we got to the other side of it in the fall, which is why we’re very proud of the team. We’re now at roughly 100,000 clients and about 2,300 employees.

What was the top issue overall for advisors and the wealth management industry in 2023? How will it influence the industry in 2024? 

The biggest thing you saw in 2023 is in the value that clients receive. It’s becoming higher and higher and more widespread.

For those not delivering a lot of value, it’s getting harder and harder to hide from this reality. They’re going to have to [make it] happen at some point. 

What was the top issue for the bigger players in the wealth management industry overall in 2023, and how will that influence the industry in 2024? 

For the bigger firms that are aggregating, the biggest issue was the huge spike in interest rates, which changed the math completely. 

What that’s going to do going forward is you’ll still see acquisitions because we’re in the early stages of the consolidation of the industry … but the number of deals that each of these firms is willing to make will likely decline, and the structure of these deals is going to change. 

For bigger firms, it’s like if you were going to buy real estate, the interest rate you pay definitely impacts the prices in the market. It’s no different at all when it comes to wealth management firms. 

When you look at the activity in this space, interest rates are probably the biggest factor right now. And, obviously, a market decline of [any] significance means you would see almost a complete freeze of M&A activity.

What did you see as most significant in the markets in 2023?

We just saw the run-up of big U.S. stocks outperforming everything else yet again. We saw it happen primarily because of just seven stocks yet again, and it’s just incredible. 

This was despite everyone’s predictions BlackRock, Vanguard, Goldman Sachs, etc. that this [performance] would flip and we would see smaller stocks do better … or we would see international outperform the U.S. This is something that is going to have to flip at some point. But it was amazing to see that not happen for yet another year. 

What’s your view on trends in the markets in 2024?

We’re going to see bonds start to perform much better after one of the longest stretches of the worst performance they’ve ever had.

As bond yields stabilize, or maybe even in the next year decline modestly, we’ll see bond performance be much much stronger because interest rates are higher now. The expected return is much better. Also, the dramatic spike up [in yields] is largely over. 

What developments of 2023 most surprised you? 

The banking contagion that almost happened was probably the most surprising, and the way that it got contained so quickly was also surprising. Overall, I was surprised that it happened, and it was surprising that it didn’t have a greater domino effect. I think that really speaks to how aggressive [federal regulators] are with interfering with these sorts of things. 

What’s your or your firm’s New Year’s resolution for 2024? 

Our focus here for the 2020s is “better.” It’s the word that we’re all using. We just want to be better at everything that we do and that’s our focus now. If we’re spending our time on [something], is it making the client experience or offering better than it was before? That’s the focus, and we’re already on our way. 

Finally, what would you like to tell us about your latest book, “Money Simplified?”

I really wanted to have a book that was really straightforward and really explained money in a way that someone who wasn’t really interested in it could read very quickly maybe 25 minutes or less that’s highly illustrative and very visual, so they could come away with a good understanding of the markets, how they work and why that’s important. I’m excited about it. 

(Credit: Janie Jones)


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