Ridgeland — What do you do when the children are grown, professional and financial success has been attained, a sustained passion for work makes retirement unthinkable, yet meeting quotas and enduring corporate rhetoric are unappealing? Form a new financial consulting firm with like-minded professionals who have complementary specialties and skills.
“We answer to no one but our clients, ourselves and the Secretary of State,” said Tom S. “Sonny” Davenport, founding partner of Ridgeland-based Davenport Watts & Jones, LLC. “We are seasoned, experienced professionals — old! — who came together to provide personalized financial consulting services to a small number of clients that we like and respect. We will not work with someone we don’t.”
Davenport’s career path has been somewhat unconventional. After graduating from Delta State University with an accounting degree in 1970, he joined Ernst & Ernst, one of the most prestigious accounting firms in the country. Three years later, he left public accounting and worked briefly as a life insurance agent. In 1974, he started his own accounting firm from his dining room table. By the early 1980s, he was specializing in construction industry work. In 1987, he and Dan Holliday formed Davenport & Holliday, CPAs.
“We became very successful very quickly and were having trouble getting work out the door,” said Davenport. “About that time, we met Mina Jones, who had her own firm specializing in tax accounting. We merged our firms and formed Davenport, Holliday & Jones. Our different gifts and the needs of the construction industry were perfectly suited and we grew into one of the largest niché accounting firms in the South.”
In the mid-1990s, when accounting firms were moving into the investment advisory sector, Davenport’s firm partnered with an established investment advisory firm to form a separate company. Jane Watts, one of few elite financial planners with a certified financial planner designation, joined the company in 2002.
“We quickly discovered that we had the same vision for client service,” said Davenport.
On January 1, 2004, the trio formed Davenport, Watts & Jones Financial Consultants.
“I’ve referred to myself as the talent agent,” said Davenport, with a laugh. “Mina is probably the smartest person I’ve ever known in the accounting and tax arena. Jane’s background, coupled with her amazing people skills, is a rare gift.”
Jones, a certified public accountant, certified specialist in estate planning and certified specialist in retirement planning, routinely takes on special projects that a CFO of a company would normally handle.
“For example, I was called on to work with a company in North Mississippi because they couldn’t get a handle on why they were losing money on the construction/fabrication jobs they were getting,” said Jones, former CFO of a large manufacturing firm in Mississippi. “I met with them for a couple of days and developed an Excel spreadsheet that helped them know the company’s breakeven point. This spreadsheet was set up to accommodate ‘what ifs.’ What if they added men in the shop? What if they worked overtime instead of hiring another person? What if they cut overhead expenses? They put this spreadsheet in use and were able to know what minimum rate was acceptable in their sales process.”
While Jones is the project partner, Davenport and Watts bring to the table “the relationship piece, but in different ways,” said Watts.
“Sonny has a wealth of knowledge guiding business owners in decisions regarding the growth, management and succession of their businesses,” she explained. “My work is in the areas of financial, investment and retirement planning.”
Davenport and Watts have developed a simple yet highly effective and conservative investment platform to protect and preserve clients’ wealth. About two-thirds of the firm’s work involves financial planning and investments, which includes retirement plans for businesses. The balance of the portfolio involves accounting and tax consulting.
“Because of our maturity and seasoned comfort in our work, there are really no egos that get in the way,” said Watts. “This makes for a peaceful workplace and stronger team for our clients.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.
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