Our Story

A Little History…

It all started with our struggles to find and provide good financial advice at large national firms – especially in the area of college planning.

It always seemed to be about selling the next product to a client. After months of soul searching, we decided to strike out on our own in 2009 and form an independent fee-only practice.

Ever since day one, we have continued to adapt our service model to the changing needs of our primary client: the college-bound family.

We chose the name “Capstone” to reflect our firm’s focus on college planning. A capstone is a student’s final course of subject mastery in college. We want to help our clients achieve subject mastery when it comes to their financial planning. Through our ongoing partnership, we’ll help you make empowered decisions about your money – from investments to college saving. We believe in building a partnership with each of our clients based on a foundation of trust. We’re here to support you for the long-haul, not just a one-time sales transaction.

Our Founders

Joe Messinger, CFP®, ChFC®, CLU®, CCFC®

Co-founder & Director of College Planning

Professional Bio:
  • 20+ years of financial services experience
  • B.S. from Penn State in 2000
  • Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) in 2014
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) in 2011
  • Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®) in 2008
  • Certified College Financial Consultant (CCFC) in 2020
  • Member of FPA (Financial Planning Association)
  • Member of NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors)
  • Advisory Board Member at the American Institute of Certified College Financial Consultants (AICCFC)
  • Columbus Business First “Forty Under 40” Class of 2013

Joe is a leading authority on late-stage college funding. He created the innovative College Pre Approval™ process that demystifies financial aid and helps students find schools that will give them the most free money so they can graduate debt free and live richer lives!  He is frequently asked  to speak at high school financial aid nights and parent groups across the country.  He is also a highly regarded thought leader and speaker in the financial planning community, frequently speaking at industry conferences about his College Pre-Approval™ process. He regularly provides continuing education for Certified Financial Planners™ through the Financial Planning Association, XY Planning Network (XYPN), and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). His work has been featured in The Journal for Financial Planning, Financial Advisor Magazine, US News, and Bloomberg to name a few.

Some fun facts about Joe:
  • Joe actually went to college to become a chef. He loved the craft, but hated the grueling hours.
  • He still loves fine dining and a great bottle of wine.
  • His financial services career was a total accident, spurred on by a friend’s suggestion while living in Atlanta.
  • When he is not in the office, he is most likely traveling, playing guitar, or enjoying live music with family and friends.
  • Joe keeps a home base in Ohio and Florida, but also enjoys spending time in Colorado.

Ryan Sheppard, ChFC®

Co-founder & Lead Relationship Manager

Professional Bio:
  • 13 years of client-facing experience
  • B.S. in Economics from Ohio State in 2003
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) in 2013
  • Member of FPA (Financial Planning Association)
  • Proficient in eMoney® & MoneyGuidePro® planning platforms
  • Certified Loring Ward Advisor Network member

While clients have our entire team available to them, Ryan leads most of our new client relationships, helping design their financial plan, create custom investment strategies, and implement action items on their behalf.

Some fun facts about Ryan:
  • He flipped his major from Biology to Economics after his first chemistry class at Ohio State.
  • Ryan is a total golf nerd and got his first hole-in-one at the age of 12 – a three iron from 131 yards.
  • He is a die hard Steelers fan and watches every playoff game with the exact same set of friends and family.
  • Ryan has some interesting work history, including a local funeral home as a teenager, and then later on the wait staff at The Refectory.
  • He married his college sweetheart, Abbey. They have two kids, Lucy and Graham, who keep them on their toes.

Jason Slone, PhD, CCFC

Lead College Planner & Consultant

Professional Bio:
  • BA College of Wooster (1995)
  • MA The Ohio State University (1999)
  • Ph.D. Western Michigan University (2002)
  • 20+ years in higher education as a Professor, Chair, Dean, and Associate Vice President
  • 5+ years in financial services, including Financial Advisor for Edward Jones in Columbus, OH (2009-2010) and a Property & Casualty and Life & Health Insurance Agent in Savannah, GA (2019-2023)
  • Certified College Financial Consultant (2023)

Jason – aka “Dr. J” – has over 25 years of combined experience in higher education and financial services. He holds the Certified College Financial Consultant (CCFC) designation, and is passionate about helping families figure out how to pay for the skyrocketing costs of college. He is an expert in educating families on the true (net) costs of college, how to find grants and scholarships, and how to pay for college without taking on too much debt or neglecting retirement and other financial goals.

Some fun facts about Jason:
  • Jason was a First-Generation student who went to college to play baseball but ended up loving academics and getting a PhD
  • He once lived on a boat in Key West and had to row a dinghy back and forth to get to work onshore at the Hog’s Breath Saloon
  • He is a singer-songwriter and plays music on the weekends in the Savannah/Hilton Head area
  • In the summers, he has a fun side gig as a first mate and tour guide for Captain Derek’s Dolphin Adventure on Tybee Island
  • He lives in the Savannah/Hilton Head area with his soulmate and musical duo partner, Krista (who’s also a PhD and college professor), and their 3 kids and rescue dog Stella.

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