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.


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Our Team

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
  • Co Founder & Strategic Advisor for College Aid Pro Software
  • 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:
  • 20 years of financial services experience
  • B.S. in Economics from Ohio State in 2003
  • Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®) in 2013
  • Member of FPA (Financial Planning Association)
  • Member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA)

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.

Bud Lavery

Financial Planner

Professional Bio:
  • FPA member
  • Earned his B.S. from Duke University
  • Earned his M.S.W. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Was the CEO of two tech startups and two nonprofits before transitioning to the financial planning profession

When working with clients, Bud brings a lifetime of experience and a holistic view of well-being to his work as a financial planner. He honed his entrepreneurship and leadership skills as the CEO of two education technology startups and as the executive director of two nonprofits that focused on educational success and wellness promotion. His training in mindfulness and social work contributes to his strong relationship-building, empathy, and deep listening skills.  Finally, his background in both the biological and behavioral sciences contributes to his analytical skills and inclination toward research and what works.

Some fun facts about Bud:
  • Bud was born in Hawaii.

  • He is a trained mindfulness instructor and has been practicing meditation for over 40 years.

  • Bill and Melinda Gates personally visited an alternative high school that Bud co-created with the local school system.

  • He adores his two children (who graduated from college without any debt – though that’s not why he adores them).

  • He recently moved across the country to Montana to live in the mountains and enjoy hiking, cross-country skiing, and gardening.

Susan Campbell, FPQP®

Client Experience Manager

Professional Bio:
  • Certified as a Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional (FPQP) 
  • BFA – Otterbein University

Susan graduated with a degree in technical theater and then retired from that career to raise her young children. You wouldn’t expect that background would accommodate a pivot into the world of financial planning, but after rejoining the workforce, Susan found that her skills of stage managing & running backstage theatrical crews, allow her to keep things organized and running smoothly for our office. From scheduling, preparing client documents, and everything in between, Susan handles the back office (or behind-the-scenes) areas of Capstone, which allows our financial advisor team more time to focus on our clients and their needs.

Some fun facts about Susan:
  • For over a decade, she has owned a handmade knitting business with an Etsy storefront

  • Susan is married to her college sweetheart, Bryan and they have 2 amazing daughters

  • She is a proud Disney fanatic

  • Susan loves jigsaw puzzles, old movies, and vacationing on the beach

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