Shoemaker Continues Rising After 2010 Fire

By Michael Waddell

Shoemaker Financial has risen from the ashes since its building burned in 2010. The firm has enjoyed 30 percent growth each year since then, and its client list has swelled to more than 15,000.

“The end of 2008 and 2009 were not the best of times for anybody in the financial services business,” said Thomas “Mac” Jenkins III, managing partner who has been with the firm for the past 21 years. “I think the fire in 2010 ignited us, as we have been on a record-setting pace from a sales and growth perspective since then. You look back and the things that appeared to be road blocks turned out to be speed bumps.”

In October 2010 a fire destroyed the building when electricity ignited its sign in the early morning hours. Working from makeshift office space until the building could be rebuilt, the staff banded together to continue working for its clients as the economy began to rebound.

Jim Shoemaker, from left, Mac Jenkins and Jeremy Jones helped steer Shoemaker Financial past a 2010 fire.

(Shoemaker Financial)

“Yes, the fire was the best thing that could have happened to us,” said James H. Shoemaker, principal and one of two remaining founding members along with Jeff Long. “I think we gained strength working as a group through the adversity, whether it was the fire or the economic crisis.”

The business was founded in 1978 near the Medical Center District, and then moved to East Memphis at Timber Creek in Poplar Crest Cove in 1984, followed by a move to its current location in Germantown in 1995.

“We didn’t start as a brokerage house or an insurance company; we focused on financial planning,” Shoemaker said. “We are developing a financial road map for someone and helping to implement it. Many people today struggle with making investment decisions and they become fearful.”

Planning services offered by the firm include asset management, life insurance, personal investments, college planning, long-term care, annuities, 401(k) plans and business continuations.

“We have a team approach, so our clients know it is not just one adviser working with them, it is a whole team supporting them that know their unique needs,” said Jeremy T. Jones, Shoemaker vice president and chief operating officer.

The firm employs two chief financial planners with more than 50 years of combined experience that do only financial planning.

“The client benefits because the adviser is the advocate for the client working with the CFPs,” Shoemaker said. “That’s probably the differentiation that we have, the real value proposition that I think a client should see when they come to us.”

The majority of Shoemaker’s new business comes from referrals, and the firm conducts as many as 120 seminars each year locally. In the next 45 days the firm plans to debut a completely revamped website. And as part of growing its brand awareness, Shoemaker and the company’s investment adviser, Keith Quinn, conduct a radio show every Friday at 9 a.m. on KWAM-990.

The company has grown its geographic footprint through mergers and acquisitions over the past five years, with four completed deals and two more currently in the works on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

Shoemaker now has eight total offices, with several satellite locations in Tennessee, Mississippi and Indiana, and the company targets cities like Chattanooga, Tenn.; Birmingham, Ala.; and Little Rock, Ark.

“I think our job is to go in and help them look outside their circle and give them some concentric circles to work from,” Shoemaker said.

The firm is now in a significant growth phase.

“We want to attract younger professionals that want to come into a professional sales organization,” said Jenkins, who leads the company’s expansion efforts. He points out that average age at similar firms in his industry is 55, while the average age at Shoemaker is 44.

“As an industry we can’t continue to get older. I think there is a thriving group of young people in the financial services industry,” said Shoemaker, who began the youth initiative at his company about 10 years ago.

“We are always looking for leaders,” Jones added. “Whether it is someone straight out of college or someone with 20 years of experience in the industry, we provide them with the resources to help grow their practice and take care of their clients.”

Shoemaker cultivates its infrastructure with its Crossroads and Foundations of Management training programs, which the firm’s employees can attend.

“Our industry is going through a real shrinkage problem,” Shoemaker said. “If we really want to have an industry that’s thriving, it’s all going to come from growing and developing new people to be a part of something that is exciting and rewarding.”