Peter Mallouk has succeeded beyond what would be most people’s wildest imaginations. Since purchasing Creative Planning in 2004, Mallouk turned this once-provincial Kansas-based wealth management firm into a behemoth. Today, Creative Planning—one of the largest registered investment advisory firms in the country—manages more than $45 billion in assets for individuals and families in all 50 states. Under Mallouk’s leadership, Creative Planning was named the No. 1 wealth management firm in America multiple years in a row. But Mallouk’s most-lasting achievement isn’t making his clients richer, it’s what he’s doing to enrich entire communities.
A prolific philanthropist, Mallouk has given millions to send young people to college, feed children and families, provide basic needs to low-income communities and support the homeless. Last week, in the wake of worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd, Mallouk made his most generous donation to date—$12 million to support education, financial literacy and scholarships in the regions his firm serves.
“As a financial planning firm, we have observed that the people who do best in life have good jobs,” Mallouk said. “To have good jobs, you need to have a good education, and people who have good educations tend to have good examples, either in the home or as mentors. We want to do things that are going to make it easier for the disenfranchised to prevail generationally and break out of the cycle of poverty.”
Mallouk is directing the funds to three essential areas: food banks, education and financial literacy.
A portion of the funding will go to expand the Mallouk Give Back Scholarship Program, which, to date, has provided $3 million to fund full scholarships, living expenses and mentorship support to 121 Kansas students throughout their four years of college.
Additionally, Mallouk will support the opening of new food distribution centers in Kansas, help with the build out of a Junior Achievement Economic Center in Kansas City and construct a brand-new financial education center where kids, teens and adults can learn about everything from financial literacy to tax planning to starting a business. Mallouk will not only fund the creation of the center but will tap financial professionals at Creative Planning to develop curriculum and train staff. His plan is to have all the money spent and programs launched within this calendar year.
For Mallouk, a first-generation American whose parents immigrated from Egypt a year before he was born, giving back is something that comes naturally.
“My parents came from a poor country,” he said. “I witnessed my mom giving of her time and my dad giving of his money. As I’ve entered this career, instead of supporting things that would cultivate a client base like museums, from the very beginning we’ve been focused on the whole other end of the population that could not become a client because of all the hurdles they face and trying to make things better for them.”
Since partnering with the Give Something Back Foundation to launch the scholarship program in Kansas, Mallouk has met with students every year and kept in touch with many of them. He said he’s inspired by their resilience and determination to achieve despite the many obstacles they have had to overcome in life.
“Sixty-seven percent of these kids are people of color, the majority of them have only one parent and so many of them have another factor, whether it’s abuse or being in a foster home or having a parent that is incarcerated or being in a home where there’s drug usage,” Mallouk said. “It’s unbelievable that these kids wind up emerging as some of the top performers in their class in high school. They’re defying all the odds already.”
While much of the focus of recent protests has been on the criminal justice system, Mallouk said he sees the bigger problem as one of systemic poverty.
“This is something we’ve known is a problem and have been trying to do our part to fix it for a long time,” he said.