Lifelong Learner

From the Fall 2011 edition of Vanderbilt Business

Frank Bumstead at the FBMM office in Nashville
Frank Bumstead at the FBMM office in Nashville

Frank Bumstead, MBM’72, admits he really didn’t know what to expect when he enrolled in Vanderbilt’s Graduate School of Management in 1970, soon after finishing a tour in Vietnam as a mine warfare officer. The school, which had yet to adopt the Owen name, was young then and trying to establish its identity, much like Bumstead himself. Yet by the time the Dallas native graduated two years later, he had a strong appreciation for what the school had taught him.

“The most important thing the Owen School teaches you is how to learn,” he says. “It’s important to keep an open mind and commit to being a lifelong learner because the world changes. Two years from now, things won’t be the way they are today.”

That lesson has proven particularly valuable in Bumstead’s career. While an Owen student, he had a job with then Tennessee Gov. Winfield Dunn’s administration and thought that he might continue working in state government. Instead he ended up going in a very different direction: Since 1990, Bumstead has been a Principal with Flood, Bumstead, McCready & McCarthy (FBMM), a financial management firm representing clients in the music industry. Among those on the roster are country artists Keith Urban, Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts, as well as acts like The Black Keys, Kings of Leon and Danger Mouse.

FBMM, which has offices in both Nashville and New York, is one of the few firms to offer clients what is known as tour accounting. “The money is in touring today,” Bumstead explains. “Years ago, artists toured so that they could sell records. Today they try to sell records so they can tour. Our job is to make sure that every nickel owed our clients actually gets to them and that their expenses are only the ones we and/or the clients authorized.”

Looking back on a career that has spanned 40 years, Bumstead can point to many things that have played a hand in his success, from education to effective business partnerships. Yet if he had to narrow it to one reason, he’d say it’s something he learned early on, growing up in a low-income family.

“I never felt entitled,” he says. “I always felt challenged and threatened. I felt like I had to work a little bit harder and learn a little bit more and be more attentive because I’m certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer.”