Mike Melby Retires After 40-Year Career, Leaves Legacy that True Financial Success is Built on Timeless Principles
In the ever-changing world of finance, where markets rise and fall like an exhilarating rollercoaster ride, Mike Melby has been a steady force for four decades, guiding middle Americans toward financial success. As this fourth-generation Arizonan pivots to retirement, Melby leaves behind a legacy built on integrity, longstanding partnerships, and a steadfast commitment to helping others achieve their financial dreams.
An entrepreneur at heart, Melby started two companies while attending Arizona State University as a mathematics major. He was in his early 20s when he sold the first company, bought his first home in Scottsdale, Ariz., and worked for a “financial planner who was really just a glorified insurance agent,” recalls Melby.
Through a series of unique circumstances, he met Jim Sollenberger, who founded Credit Union Enterprises (CUE) Financial along with Judith Kuplic in 1982—not only business partners but also mentors to Melby in the early days of his career. Together, they embarked on a journey that would shape the financial futures of thousands. From the beginning, Mike had a vision of empowering everyday individuals with the tools and knowledge needed to navigate the complex world of investing and insurance.
One of Melby’s earliest achievements was signing CUE Financial’s first client, a Bell System credit union (during the breakup of AT&T), as the first in the country to offer investing and insurance. He recalls in the early 80s, credit unions were eager to share best practices, and many came to learn.
“We shared everything at that time,” said Mike. “We had a blast meeting with people and a lot wanted to sign up with us as Jim and I were also financial advisors.
“We were doing workshops inside credit unions and it kind of became a big deal, though we didn’t intend for that. We were helping middle America.”
CUE Financial was fast becoming an innovator in wealth management in the credit union space. Today, Melby proudly asserts that any credit union with a wealth management program can likely trace its roots back to the early days of CUE Financial.
In 2004, Melby took his commitment to a new level by partnering with Mike Prior of Priority Financial Group (PFG). With both firms having deep roots in the credit union space, the partnership allowed CUE Financial and PFG to deepen their engagement with credit unions, lowering costs and elevating their wealth management programs while having fun in the process.
The synergy between the two firms would become a testament to the power of collaboration. Even after Melby and Prior split up to join different broker-dealers for a few years during the 2010s, they “got back together again” in 2017, after both registering with Securities America.
“It was literally a handshake and we’ve been together ever since,” recalls Melby. “The partnership with Mike has been invaluable.”
For Prior, he marks a nearly 20-year milestone since meeting Melby and is grateful for their partnership and friendship, adding:
“As Mike bids farewell to a career marked by innovation and unwavering dedication, his legacy lives on not just in the success stories of individual clients, but in the very foundations of credit union wealth management programs across the country. I’m honored to call him a partner and a friend.”
Reflecting on his journey, Melby acknowledges the invaluable guidance and common-sense values of mentors and CUE Financial business partners, Sollenberger and Kuplic, who retired in 2016 and 2015, respectively. Their influence, coupled with Prior’s partnership, has played a significant role in shaping a career that’s been both fulfilling and impactful.
“I was already blessed with Jim and Judy for 30 years, and then again in the 2000s with Mike,” said Melby. "When we made mistakes, they were always for the right reasons, not for the wrong ones," Mike reflects, underscoring the honesty and integrity that have been the cornerstones of his firm.
“Our goal has always been to service credit unions and individual advisors with a firm that’s completely independent, aiming to be the most honest in the world.”
Melby’s advice to entrepreneurs entering the financial services field today is to do so with the highest code of ethics. “It’s about being the most honest and ethical.”
He shares two guiding philosophies that have defined his career:
- “Successful investing is the constant need to replace fear and greed with perspective, context, and patience.”
In an era where these principles are often overlooked against the backdrop of a 24-hour media cycle, Melby emphasizes their importance in building long-term financial success.
- “For every new problem or crisis, there’s an infinite number of undiscovered or forgotten solutions.”
Melby reminds us that solutions are often forgotten. An avid reader, he also shares his recommended reading list, the books that have endured at the top of his list:
- “An Empire of Wealth: The Epic History of American Economic Power,” by John Steele Gordon
- “How Innovation Works: And Why it Flourishes in Freedom,” by Matt Ridley
- “Destined for War: Can America and China Escape Thucydides’s Trap?” by Graham Allison
- “Open: The Story of Human Progress,” by Johan Norberg
In a world that rushes past perspective, context, and patience, Melby’s retirement serves as a reminder that true financial success is built on timeless principles.
Investment advice offered by PFG Advisors. Securities offered through Securities America, Member FINRA/SIPC. Insurance products offered through Securities America or its licensed affiliates. Priority Financial Group and Securities America are separate entities.