D. Paterson Cope

Founder of Cope Private Wealth

D. Paterson Cope is CEO and founder of Cope Private Wealth, a comprehensive financial planning company based out of Birmingham, Alabama. Cope Private Wealth specializes in helping retirees and near-retirees to plan out the rest of their lives in comfort and security.

As a financial advisor, Cope ensures that his clients’ success is aligned with his own. Cope Private Wealth only gets a raise when their client’s account increases in value. In other words, they prosper only when their client does. The firm seeks to grow financial assets judiciously while also ensuring as little taxation as possible.

In terms of experience, D. Paterson Cope has been advising clients for more than 30 years. After graduating from the University of Alabama, he later went on to become a Certified Financial Planner in 1997. Over the years, he has worked for and alongside such companies as J.C. Bradford & Co., Lehman Brothers, and the Robinson-Humphrey Company in Atlanta. Cope has proudly served several hundred families during his tenure as a financial advisor.

At heart, however, D. Paterson Cope is perhaps best known as a family man. Above all else, Pat enjoys spending time with his wife, Jennifer Miree Cope, and their two sons, Bobby and Charlie. Outside of work, he can be found exercising, attending Sunday services at Independent Presbyterian Church, reading the news, or watching sports.

Where did the idea for Cope Private Wealth come from?

Cope Private Wealth – my son is working with me now, and when he succeeds me he won’t have to change the name.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Emails, phone calls, office meetings, lunch meetings outside the office. With both clients and prospects I work on all forms of planning: budgeting, insurance planning, investment planning, retirement planning, tax planning and estate planning. People’s circumstances are always hanging so there is never a shortage of things to work on.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Like coaching a sport – draw it up on a whiteboard, walk through it (figuratively speaking), then execute at full speed. Take as much time as you need on any of the first two steps. Those steps must be perfect before moving to the execution phase.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Blockchain. I’m not sure about cryptocurrencies but blockchain has some potentially tremendous practical applications.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Coming in for 2 or 3 hours at some point on just about every weekend. Amazing how productive you can be when your head is clear and the phone is not ringing.

What advice would you give your younger self?

There is a time for work and a time for play. If you don’t know how to recognize the difference, learn it.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Andrew Toney, who played on some of the great Philadephia 76er teams in the 80s, is the best pure shooter of all time.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Study and know the strengths and weaknesses of each type of business formation (C Corp, LLC, Partnership, S Corp, Sole Proprietorship) and the always-changing tax laws pertaining to each. I gave away a fair amount in taxes because I was using the wrong business structure my first two years of business.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Do high-quality work and tell them to tell their friends. Nothing is better than word of mouth because it shows you are trustworthy.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve always enjoyed planning, particularly retirement planning, but I wasn’t sufficiently educated to be a real help. Becoming a CFP® licensee solved that.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Bridal/Wedding consultant – high margins and not capital intensive. You had better learn the ropes by working for somebody else first, though.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Bought a North Face Jacket – light but very warm. The technological advances in clothing are amazing.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

We use Orion for billing and reporting. It’s great!

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe. There was no greater observer of social mobility in the United States. He is also hilarious.

What is your favorite quote?

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Key Learnings:

  • High-quality work speaks for itself; it’s the best form of advertising
  • Know the differences between different kinds of business formation and the different types of tax law that apply to each one
  • Putting in a little extra effort before the day starts (or on weekends) can pay large dividends in the long run