University of Oregon CCFSA Profile – Dougal Williams

Dougal Williams is the chief investment officer at Vista Capital Partners in Portland. He is a University of Oregon alumnus who will be returning to campus on May 11 to share his experience in the financial planning industry. Students will have the opportunity to gain insight into Williams’ responsibilities as well as learn more about how financial markets function. We had the opportunity to ask Williams a few questions in preparation for his upcoming visit:

Can you give me a brief introduction into the roles and responsibilities of the chief investment officer at Vista Capital Partners?

Dougal Williams:  My primary responsibility is to orchestrate and implement Vista’s investment and wealth management research. These decisions are made at the investment committee level, so a big part of my job is to effectively lead this investment team. I also try to be a resource for our firm’s lead advisors and portfolio managers, so they can better serve our clients. We have been fortunate to add a number of great, young people to our staff in recent years, so helping mentor them and positively impacting their professional development is important.  Finally, the passion we exude for our anti-Wall Street, evidence-based investment philosophy has caused a few of our industry peers to label us as “zealots.” If that’s true, then I consider myself Vista’s Chief Investment Zealot.

What would you say is your guiding principle in terms of making financial decisions?

DW:  My dad was a craftsman and he told me to always “measure twice, cut once.” To me, that’s a great basic reminder to always check or test my understanding before undertaking an action. When you’re in charge of someone’s life savings, you can’t be sloppy and make mistakes.

What advice would you give students planning to go into a career in wealth management?

DW: Go for it! Being an investment advisor is rewarding on many levels. First, there is the intellectual stimulation that comes from working in a profession where the playing field changes every day. We get to read, learn, and teach every day. We are also well compensated for the work we do, so it can be a great career that provides financial security and opportunity for a family. Most gratifying, however, are the intimate relationships we build with clients. Seeing our advice help clients through major events in their lives is incredibly rewarding.

What resources did you utilize at the University of Oregon that you would recommend students take advantage of?

DW: Honestly, I probably wasn’t as mature or career-focused as many of the students I’ll be talking to later this week. I was double majoring in economics and Spanish with a minor in sports marketing, and captaining the men’s varsity tennis team. I didn’t have a lot of time to explore many of the resources available to students then or today. My focus was on excelling in the classroom and improving on the tennis court, as I wanted to play professionally for a few years after graduation. My advice would be to find something you’re genuinely interested in and to dive in as deep as possible. You’ll learn a lot and meet interesting people in the process.

Can you give me a brief description of what students can expect to hear from you at Vista Capital Partners’ upcoming visit to campus?

DW:  I hope to share my journey from U of O to where I am today, and what I’ve learned that might be helpful to others. I’m also going to run a little real-time experiment, the results of which should help students better understand how financial markets work and how that underpins Vista’s investment philosophy.

Dougal Williams and Vista Capital Partners will be visiting the UO Financial Management Association on Wednesday May 11 at 6:00 p.m. in Lillis 232. Don’t miss this opportunity to gain insight into the financial planning industry!

Written by UO Business

The UO Lundquist College of Business empowers an engaged community of students, faculty, staff, and stakeholders who create, apply, and disseminate knowledge that contributes significantly to their professions, communities, and society. The college delivers a dynamic learning environment where world-class professors engage and get to know students, where students work on real projects for real companies, and where alumni go on to high-powered jobs worldwide.