Don E. Scott Professional History
University of Central Arkansas 1978 to 1979
Background – Born in 1957, and grew up poor. I always worked, including three years full‐time at the local supermarket. Paid 100% of my own way through college.
Fast track – Owing to a shortage of funds and that four years seemed like an eternity, I mapped out my plan to complete my bachelor’s degree in only two years. I arrived at the University of Central Arkansas in January of 1978 and left campus December of 1979. I worked part‐time while going to school as well.
Arthur Andersen 1980 to 1998
Making my own way – I set my sights on Arthur Andersen, the premier big eight accounting. That was a challenge since I had attended a small unknown university, and Andersen had no offices in Arkansas, nor did it recruit at UCA. Nonetheless, I was personally able get Andersen to come and interview on campus, and as a result secured the job I wanted.
Fast tracking again – I joined Andersen’s Oklahoma City office January 2, 1980. I was promoted quickly and consistently received glowing performance evaluations. At a very young age, I was a member of the Partnership Tax Specialty Team. This was a group of a dozen, mostly partners, who interpreted the tax law for the entire Firm. I was a member of the Oil and Gas Industry Team, the Family Wealth Planning Practice, and headed up the Firmwide Individual Bankruptcy Tax Specialty Team (having lived through Oklahoma in the late ‘80s). I taught courses for the firm, was published many times, and gave dozens of presentations. I was a founding member and head of the U.S. Tax Manager Task Force, which reported directly to Andersen’s top management.
Making partner – I knew what I wanted even before I joined the Firm. Just like I worked systematically through my bachelor’s program in two years, I worked through the Andersen system and made partner. The year I made it, there were 17 new tax partners in the U.S. It was a very select group, out of a firm of some 120,000 professionals and 2,600 partners.
Practice building – Within Andersen, I was a business builder. I built practices in Oklahoma City. I was asked to transfer to the St. Louis office to build a Family Wealth Planning Practice there. I created $1.6 million of fees in the first year, and was sent to Dallas to build a larger firmwide practice in another area. We did about $1.4 million there in the first 18 months. The key takeaway is that I was the guy who was asked (told) repeatedly to go out and build something new. I figured it out and did it to the best of my ability.
Experience and expertise – The following is a list of some of the areas where I had meaningful experiences and gained significant knowledge over my 19 years at Andersen.
Managing and mentoring professionals
Best practices (was there when the term was first coined)
Advising and counseling clients of every age, personality, and background imaginable
Sales and practice building
Mergers and acquisitions
Hiring and firing
Planning and budgeting
Oil and gas
Family business consulting
Insolvency and bankruptcy
Master limited partnerships (the second one created was my client)
Windfall Profit Tax
Packaging and marketing oil & gas properties
Managing large and small projects
Interfacing with countless business professionals from a variety of disciplines
Dr. Leon Danco – Dr. Danco was recognized nationally as the founding father of the field of family business consulting. He was the master! Andersen acquired his practice in the early ‘90s. I had the distinct pleasure of working directly with Dr. Danco as one of his key “disciples” within Andersen. His work was exclusively with the “soft issues” around transitioning family businesses from one generation to the next.
From the first time I met Dr. Danco, I knew he had something that far surpassed anything we were doing at Andersen merely on the technical side. Coming to understand his principals and approaches changed everything for me, and for the clients I served. I learned a great deal, and moved my career forward in a new direction. The experiences I gained working with Dr. Danco created much of the underpinnings of my work today.
Pell Rudman Trust Company/ Atlantic Trust Company 1998 to 2007
From a firm of 120,000 employees to one of 120 – Notwithstanding that I “bled Arthur Andersen” for many years, I was becoming increasingly disenchanted over the last three or four. (Fast forward a few more years and the Firm disappeared entirely owing to Enron and other such circumstances.) In 1998, I was induced by a headhunter to meet with the CEO of Pell Rudman Trust Company (PR), a high‐net‐worth wealth management firm headquartered in Boston. I left Andersen, moved to Denver, and joined PR in July of that year.
Shocked but not stopped – I had seen enough small businesses to not be completely surprised by anything. However, coming from the infrastructure, quality, and horsepower, of Arthur Andersen to a firm like PR was a bit of an eye opener. The following summarizes several key points.
I moved from Dallas to Denver and opened the office quite literally with “me and a desk”.
PR’s management thought there was some brand value. Outside of Boston, there was virtually zero.
The infrastructure they were to provide me from Boston was so absent or incompetent that I quickly disregarded it. I hired and built our own. I didn’t hesitate or really even ask. I just wasn’t going to run on mediocrity.
This was a big career change for me. I can’t say I just took it in stride. But, I made the strides I had to make, and ran as fast as I needed to run.
PR was acquired, and changed its name to Atlantic Trust (AT). Ultimately, through further acquisitions, AT had offices in about 10 or so major cities. The acquisition brought about a tremendous amount of upheaval and turnover along the way, but the Denver Office always kept moving forward.
What worked so well was taking the fundamental philosophy of PR, and overlaying it with everything I had learned at Andersen. The Denver Office became like a firm within the firm. In one of the smallest cities of any of AT’s offices, we were clearly the best and most successful office. There was little to no debate about that, and we were recognized as such openly.
Success – We built the office from zero in assets to something under $1 billion in nine years. We had 24 or 25 employees. Our client satisfaction and retention were the envy of the other offices. In Denver, we just ran faster and served harder to make it work well for our clients. For each of my last two years, we grew revenues, net, by $1.4 million per year. Those were 25% and 20% growth rates. In absolute dollars, we grew more than any other office. Those other offices included much larger areas such as Southern California, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Atlanta, Baltimore/Washington D.C., Boston, and Houston.
Experiences and achievements
Starting something from scratch and building it into something meaningful and valuable.
Doing it through a period of being acquired, management changes, forced layoffs (our
office doing great, but Firm struggling), poor systems, severe back office issues, and
poor investment product and performance.
Figuring out the pieces. I had to, more or less, build a trust company in Denver.
Growing ever single year.
Being recognized as “the best”. Being asked to present at the Firm meetings and try to
explain “how Denver does it”.
Building a great culture. Over nine years, with 25 or so people when I left, we probably
had five that left for non‐controllable reasons (e.g. family move out of town) and another five that represented real turnover (employee didn’t like it, didn’t work out, etc.) We were a close group – us against the world! The first team members I hired back in 1998 and 1999 were all still there when I left, except one.
High client satisfaction, low client turnover, and high growth. Despite the obstacles, we took care of our clients. The results showed. (Bear in mind to that we did this through the three years of the tech bubble crash.)
One particular large company was a particular success story for which I take a lot of personal credit. AT, along with Goldman Sachs, a couple of the big banks, and another firm or two, was approved to provide retirement planning services to a group of retiring executives. We received $5,000 for each retirement plan. Of course, the goal was to get those execs as ongoing firm clients. We had four or five clients from this source.
In the midst of high firm turnover, the person the person running the opportunity from Boston resigned. I lobbied and was put in charge. We took our Denver approach to the company and created substantial success. Over the five years prior, the Firm probably had garnered about equal market share with Goldman and each of the others. Collectively, it didn’t amount to much. However, over the next three years, we reached 80% market share and around 25 new clients. That was a very substantial amount of new business.
OmniWealth 2007 to 2012
Time for a change – I was not satisfied with what Atlantic Trust brought for us and our clients. I knew what a high‐net‐worth multi‐family‐office firm should look like. Notwithstanding my good relationship with the CEO, my boss, I came to understand it was never going to change.
I resigned to form my own firm – I made $1 million my final year at AT. We had a very successful year, growing substantially yet again. As an inducement to stay, I was offered another $1 million of incentives and a position as one of the five members of the Firm’s Management Committee. I had had enough, and left anyway.
OmniWealth success – I formed OmniWealth based on my own vision of what a true high‐net‐ worth investment management and family office firm should be. We executed the model very well. I built the pieces, hired the people, and made the machine work just as I had wanted. Once again, we had low turnover and high client satisfaction. This time, we were able to add impressive investment results.
OmniWealth struggle – It was much harder to get clients than I had anticipated. I had a tight non‐solicitation agreement with AT, with which I fully abided. I was able to bring a substantial amount of business. But, I also had significant overhead. I had arranged for $2.5 million of capital to see OmniWealth through to profitability. The provider ran into its own challenges and it ran out at $700,000. I worked 3,500 hours per year for three years running. Much was positive with OmniWealth. There was a lot of which I am very proud. But, I had small children and it was tough. The hours were excruciating. I did not see it becoming less so anytime soon.
OmniWealth failure – In 2010, I began discussions with an individual who ultimately became a 50% owner in OmniWealth. He had agreed to provide all of the capital we needed and had represented that he could bring a substantial amount of new business. I had reasons to believe him. Without going into further detail, he did not bring what he had promised and our partnership did not work well. He, in his separate business, not OmniWealth, got into trouble with the SEC. After a little over one year, I began to exit.
Experiences and lessons – I learned what it means, truly, to be an entrepreneur. I learned, again, about dirty hard work, sleepless nights, and all the rest. I confirmed that my fundamental business model – what I knew about delivering value for this client group – worked beautifully. Notwithstanding the difficulties, we built and delivered the goods. I also learned, the hard way, some great lessons about what not to do!
Coachman Energy 2012 to 2015
My history with Coachman – Going back to Atlantic Trust, we invested fairly heavily in Coachman Energy I, their initial fund. I invested my own capital as did several clients. We generated a handsome 2x return on that investment. That was the beginning of my relationship with Coachman Energy, and friendship with Randy Kenworthy, its founder.
Joining Coachman – Randy and I had discussed on several occasions the possibility of my joining him. As I came to realize I was leaving OmniWealth, we began in earnest. In June of 2012, I began working with Coachman on a part‐time contract basis, as I was transitioning out of OmniWealth. I was working well over full‐time at Coachman by fall of that year.
My responsibilities and duties – Coachman was another early stage company. Assets were under $25 million. There were about 15 employees and key contractors. Coachman’s business is quite complex, and there was not much infrastructure. There was a lot of need for someone with my experience to be Chief Operating Officer, and just figure things out. In that role my responsibilities and key activities included:
Oil and gas funds
Private placement memoranda and other documents
Everything else that didn’t fit neatly into someone else’s “bucket”
At the end of 2013, I was asked to become Chief Financial Officer in addition to continuing as COO. That added to my list financing, budgeting, accounting, reporting, audit, tax returns, and much more.
Citibank – This represents a particular achievement worth highlighting.
Citi has a private equity group headquartered in Boston whose sole reason for existence is to find the 8 or 10 “most special” (their words) investment opportunities in the world, which they bring to their top tier clients. These are clients often with $200 million and up. This Citi private equity group looks at several hundred opportunities each year, to find that 8 or 10.
Randy was able to gain an introduction to a high level executive at Citi, who in turn introduced us to this private equity group. After a full‐on year of the most excruciating due diligence imaginable, we were selected. Coachman has an exclusive contract as Citi’s oil and gas investment provider for this group of its upper echelon clients.
I was by no means the person responsible for this success. However, I was probably the most involved person in the due diligence process. The fact that we were selected and made it through the due diligence process to fruition is quite an accomplishment. I was also involved in the money raising “road show”, and conducted a few dozen meetings with Citi and their billionaire clients in Mexico, South America, and Miami.
My decision to leave – After three years, it had become clear I was unhappy and Coachman no longer had a role for me that made sense. I am at a point in my life where I need to be using my experience and talents in ways that will be joyful and value added for all involved. Randy and I met and agreed to a separation. We remain good friends and on the best of terms.
University of Santa Monica
Three years ago, I completed my first year of a two‐year Master’s of Spiritual Psychology Program at USM. I will finish my Master’s Degree beginning this fall and throughout the first half of 2016. This involves one weekend per month of travel to Santa Monica.
My USM experience has been life changing and will be even more so as I complete the second year. The personal work I am doing and the skills I am continuing to develop have an immeasurable positive impact. That is, impact on me and on anyone having any sort of relationship or meaningful interaction with me.
The common thread throughout is that I have always been the “go to guy”. I have struggled plenty, and worked way too hard at times. I have always figured it out and done what needed to be done.
Especially at Atlantic Trust and OmniWealth, I led and created a culture that would be the envy of anyone. Despite plenty of challenges, we were all in it together had a great deal of pride in what we were doing.
My areas of experience and expertise are quite vast.
I have started companies, built offices and practices within companies, worked at a huge
firm and at tiny ones.
I have led and participated in complex, high stakes sales more times than I can count.
I have created from nothing.
I have been the guy sitting at the head of the table with a $500 million client, with 66
partnerships and S corporations, a badly screwed up family, paranoid personality, and every complexity and challenge you could come up with. I was the guy there again and again with a dozen lawyers, accountants, family members and others. I was the one who orchestrated the plan and ran the show. I was the guy who flew around the Country with the client in his private plane, and had his utter trust and confidence. I was the advisor who loved him the most.
I have changed many lives. That is my proudest achievement.