Phil Scott needs a good financial advisor

Our Lieutenant Governor and putative gubernatorial front-runner, Phil Scott, released his financials on Monday. He’s worth three million dollars and some change.

Which sounds like a lot, but then you get to the details. The vast majority of his wealth — more than 80 percent of it — consists of his half-share in DuBois Construction, the family contracting firm that does a lot of business with the state of Vermont.

Now I understand why he’s been so reluctant to part ways with DuBois, even at risk of ethical entanglements: that firm IS his financial lifeline. Which, if he were less than a thoroughly honest man, would provide ample temptation to stack the deck in favor of DuBois when state contracts go out for bid.

Might be nice to have an Ethics Commission to handle such things, but c’est la vie.

I’m not usually too big on candidates’ financials; releasing them is a formality, and it’s extremely rare that they contain any surprises. But there was one number that stuck out like a sore thumb: his retirement and savings accounts add up to $192,290.

A hundred and ninety thousand dollars, any financial advisor will tell you, is barely a start toward a comfortable retirement. In fact, it’s grossly inadequate for a man in his late 50s.

Now, he does have assets. He could, presumably, sell his interest in the business and be set for life — if he could find a buyer, and if he doesn’t care about keeping the firm  in the family. Even so, any financial advisor will tell you that it’s spectacularly unwise to concentrate so much of your net worth in a single asset. It’s like having 80 percent of your investment portfolio in a single stock; even if it’s Google, you’re walking a fiscal tightrope.

I realize that a small business operator has to sink a lot of profits and potential income back into the business. But more than 80 percent of one’s net worth? Phil Scott should have more of a nest egg — quite a bit more, in fact. Especially since he posits himself as a sound, capable manager.

It would seem that, in terms of saving toward retirement, he hasn’t managed his own finances all that well. He appears to have taken a relentlessly short-term view, keeping the business going and spending a lot of money on auto racing instead of keeping an eye on the future. Which makes me wonder if he truly has the vision to be an effective governor.

You may think I’m overreaching, but I don’t think so. Republicans are fond of comparing government spending to family finances. When you make the comparison in this case, Phil Scott doesn’t look very good.

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9 thoughts on “Phil Scott needs a good financial advisor

    1. John S. Walters Post author

      It’s more of a surprise when it’s a goy running for our top office who claims to be a sound manager and constantly bashes the Dems’ handling of the budget.

      Reply
  1. Jason Loomis

    How much money does DuBois get from state business? I have always thought this seemed like a kind of shady arrangement, especially when Scott called the transportation committee home. Any idea how he treats his employees? If his retirement sucks this badly, I don’t imagine his employees are living high on the hog. They don’t own part of the company though, so good luck to them. Maybe Phil is planning to do some Kowalski in Vanishing Point thing when he turns 65.

    Reply
  2. Walter Carpenter

    He’s got more of a retirement account than me. I have nothing, zero, and will be working full time without any retirement until they shovel me under the ground.

    “If his retirement sucks this badly, I don’t imagine his employees are living high on the hog.”

    Good point.

    Reply
  3. Sen. Joe Benning

    Re: “I realize that a small business operator has to sink a lot of profits and potential income back into the business. But more than 80 percent of one’s net worth? Phil Scott should have more of a nest egg. … It would seem that, in terms of saving toward retirement, he hasn’t managed his own finances all that well. … Which makes me wonder if he truly has the vision to be an effective governor.”

    John, perhaps there’s another way of looking at this. In fact, congratulations for finally recognizing the plight of the small business owner. Phil bought that business the hard way: by earning it. To do so he has had to deal with every hurdle placed in front of him, from legislative mandates on businesses to economic pitfalls.

    Through it all Phil has employed a lot of people, none of whom appear to be complaining about how they are treated. They all benefit directly from every worker-related benefit the legislature creates. That’s not to say they don’t deserve to be treated with respect, but when the state benefits one segment of society it does so at the expense of another. And you are now staring at the reality that is the plight of the small business person.

    But contending that his financial limitation (in your eyes, not mine) suggests he doesn’t have the “vision to be an effective governor?” Interesting comment from an espoused “liberal.” Has monetary worth now become your measuring stick for a proper Vermont politician? I submit wealth is not limited to the number of dollars one has in a bank account. In my humble opinion, Phil’s ability to attract members of all political persuasions, something you’ve often lamented on your blog, is a far better reflection of “wealth.” And as for “vision to be an effective governor,” when measured against the difficulties Vermont has faced under the current multi-millionaire occupant of the fifth floor, I suspect Vermont will do just fine when Phil replaces him.

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      A skilled redirect, counselor. But I didn’t say that “monetary worth” is my “measuring stick” for a politician. I just pointed out that, considering the amount of money that has passed through his hands, he hasn’t done much to ensure a prosperous retirement.

      There is no proof that excessive government regulation has pushed him into this position. He has a very expensive hobby; how much of his own coin has he sunk into his racing adventures over the years?

      I raised a question, that’s all. It seems pertinent to me when Scott is running on a fiscal-responsibility agenda. In order to prove or disprove the assertion, we’d have to look at the financials of Scott’s colleagues in the Associated General Contractors and see if they’ve got just as little invested in their retirements. I doubt they would agree to do so.

      Reply
  4. Dave Katz

    Retirement? RETIREMENT????????? Hahahahahahahahasob.

    Do us a favor, John, and dig up some numbers that reveal the number of Americans in their late 50s who ARE adequately financially prepared for retirement. Of course, you’re probably not going to have to count the 2 million incarcerated folks, the people who have given up looking for work, the undocumented immigrants, the 1400 workers at Carrier in Indianapolis who saw their factory moved to Mexico last week, virtually every adult food service worker, non-union custodian, TSA attendant, logger, commercial fisherman, child-care worker, non-Teamster truck driver, certified nurses aide, organic tenant farmer, adjunct faculty instructor, housepainter, blogger……you get the picture. There are patently waaaay more Outs than Ins, in this case, and, while I grok the guy running for top fiscal manager of the state has slightly different resume requirements than the rest of us, maybe any prospective Top Dog should be feeling the pain most of us feel, of having not shared in the growth economy for nigh on four decades…

    Oh. Yeah. Right. The professional classes are the only constituents who Really Matter. There. Problem solved!

    Reply
    1. John S. Walters Post author

      Hey, I know unfunded retirement is a massive social problem hanging over our collective heads. It’s going to get worse, as younger Americans have to pay off massive college debt before they can even think about retirement. (And even worse if Republicans get their way and turn Social Security and Medicare into defined-contribution plans.) But that wasn’t the subject of my post, so I didn’t address it.

      Reply
      1. Dave Katz

        No, the point I was making is that, as long as we accept that our candidates can only be chosen from the upstairs class, we’re not gonna see any political leadership that will, or can, front for the needs of actual working people.

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