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7210 N 16th St, Phoenix, AZ 85020

Firefighter gear

A Life of Service: Firefighter to Financial Advisor


By Phil Adams, Mathis Wealth Investment Advisor Representative

Sometimes, people I meet during my work as a financial advisor learn that I am a retired firefighter. Often, I get a funny look, followed by the question, “Wow, that’s quite a jump from firefighting. What made you want to go into the financial service business?”

I understand their curiosity. After all, the two careers might not seem to have a lot in common at first glance. But as I see it, there are several qualities that a good firefighter shares with a reliable financial advisor.

Trust, being the foremost. Those who need your help must trust you and your abilities. Second, as a firefighter or advisor, one of the first things you must learn is to always remain calm and avoid panic. I can tell you when you’re responding to an emergency call and everything and everyone is in chaos, you realize that it is your job not only to gain control of the situation, but also to protect the lives of anyone in the vicinity. It can lead to some elevated adrenalin levels and yet, if you allow your emotions to control your actions at a fire scene, the results are typically not going to be good. In fact, they can be deadly. Instead, you have to remember your training, rely on your equipment, and your team members, and do the job the right way. This is the very much the same in the financial advisor business, there are many situations where the clam and reasoned response to panic and emotion can save people from making devastating financial decisions.

Guess what? There are a lot of emotions involved with investing. And if you allow your emotions to make your investing decisions for you, the results are not going to be good, a majority of the time. When the markets are going up, down, and sideways, and people’s retirement funds, or college education funds, or money invested for some other important purpose is involved, it is important to have a plan ahead of time and to stick with it, this takes the emotion out of the equation. It is vital to remain calm and observant, to remember your training, to trust your research and your team and to do the job the right way.

Next, one of the things I appreciate most from my time as a firefighter is the tremendous support and benefit provided by the pensions and other benefits for longtime firefighters. Many of us don’t realize how fortunate we are to have the benefit of the financial security that a pension provides. These benefits were provided by the efforts of farsighted leaders decades ago who were determined to see that those who served our communities for years would be able to earn a level of financial security. As a financial advisor, I’m privileged to help people get the most from their pensions, benefits and other sources of retirement income, and I think that my time as a firefighter and a recipient of some of those same benefits has made me all the more appreciative and conscientious.

Finally, I think it comes back to service. As a firefighter, I always believed that my core job was to serve the people of my community by helping them stay safe. As a financial advisor, it’s the same thing: I want to provide service to people by helping them make wise choices with their investments and in planning for the future. The fast-moving financial markets of today can be confusing and even intimidating, but if I can put my training and knowledge to work by guiding someone toward a more secure retirement, toward funding a child’s or grandchild’s education, or some other valuable goal, then I get a great deal of satisfaction from providing that service to others.

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Meet Cameron Mathis

Cameron received his BBA in Finance from Northern Arizona University, where he also completed the certification program in Investments. 

As a licensed Accident, Health, and Life Insurance agent, Cameron serves our clients as an Insurance Specialist while also working toward the credentials necessary to become an Investment Advisor Representative. 

Best of all, Cameron shares our rock-solid commitment to placing the best interests of our clients ahead of every other consideration. 

Meet Paula Adams

A licensed Life and Health Insurance Agent, Paula also works alongside her husband, Phil Adams, helping in an administrative capacity with his clients.  

Honesty and integrity are her most highly esteemed values and she hopes to impart them to all Mathis Wealth clients. Her main goal is for each client to truly feel valued and respected.

Paula has been happily married to Phil for 33 years and together they have three children—Austin, Nate and Nicole.  She loves her dogs, Bo and Bella, and enjoys working out, reading, hiking, camping and spending any time she can with her family and friends.

Paula Adams Headshot

Meet Vickie Gray

Vickie brings a wealth of experience in business to Mathis Wealth Management.

At Mathis Wealth, Vickie schedules Larry’s appointments and processes accounts forms and other paperwork.

While she grew up in Florida, she moved from New York to Arizona with her husband of 30 years, Gary. They currently have two dogs, Jasper and Yogi, as well as one grown daughter. Vickie’s leisure activities include target shooting, reading and jewelry making.

Vickie Gray

Meet Jennifer Panicker

Jennifer’s role is to help make sure everything goes smoothly for our clients.

Jennifer graduated summa cum laude from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, with a Bachelor of Business Administration with an emphasis in International Business and a minor in economics.

A native of Wisconsin, Jennifer spent many years in the Chicago suburbs before moving to Arizona. She appreciates no longer having to deal with snow and cold. Her leisure activities include spending time with her husband, Biju, and walking their dog, Petey.

Jennifer Panicker

Meet Phil Adams

Phil joined Mathis Wealth Management in 2016, after a successful career as a firefighter.

Most of his career he spent at downtown stations as part of the high-rise team. The last 5 years, he headed up the high-rise task force in the Special Hazards Unit.  Phil has made it his business to understand the ins and outs of the public safety retirement system. He strongly believes that helping firefighters prepare for retirement and guiding them through the city’s sometimes complicated retirement process is his true calling. Phil enjoys teaching and coaching members on how best to take advantage of the excellent benefits provided by the Phoenix Fire Department. 

Phil also has over 20 years of experience in business; he was the CEO and President of Stoneridge Construction for 15 years and CEO and President of Stoneridge Development for over 19 years. He was a founding board member and served as president of the Phoenix Metro Public Safety Football Club, which was the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization behind the football team for Phoenix Fire and Police, the Thunder. That football team won multiple national titles and gave thousands of dollars to charity. He even found the time to coach high school football for 20+ years. The skills he learned from business and coaching are directly applied to the retirement planning, business consulting, and wealth management that he does with his clients.

Phil married his high school sweetheart, Paula, while they were at Northern Arizona University and they have been married for 33 years. They have three adult children, Austin, Nate, and Nicole, and two dogs, Bo and Bella.

Phil is a voracious reader, a huge football fan, and loves to travel, fish, and hike.

Phil Adams

Meet Larry mathis

Larry is the author of Mom Was Right: Family Tragedy to Financial Freedom—How a Widowed Mother of Seven Retired Debt-Free. He has spoken for numerous organizations, including the Third Annual Invest in Women Conference, the American Association of Orthodontists, and the Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health at A. T. Still University.

Larry founded Mathis Wealth Management intent upon providing retirees and pre-retirees with comprehensive financial services based on each client’s unique hopes, needs and values. His comprehensive approach enables him to customize strategies for all aspects of a client’s financial life and weave the strategies into an integrated plan so all aspects work together efficiently.

A financial professional since 1987, Larry has the kind of in-depth knowledge that comes from over 30 years of experience. His credentials include a Bachelor of Science in AgriBusiness from Arizona State University and the elite designation of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional (CFP®), which trained him to help clients with virtually all of their financial needs. As an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®), he has a fiduciary responsibility to work strictly in his clients’ best interests.

Larry is a native of Phoenix, and has served the community on the boards of various charitable and religious organizations. He coached youth sports for many years and is still a certified Little League umpire, having officiated in Cooperstown, New York: home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He and his wife, Rhonda, have been married for 35 years and have three sons. His leisure activities include hunting, fishing, and singing, and he especially loves horses and riding.

Accredited Investment Fiduciary®