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Celebrating over forty years in business, Penn Davis McFarland is one of the oldest, independent money management firms in Dallas.  Its discerning client base of prominent Dallas families seems to revel in the fact that the firm maintains a relatively low profile, almost like it’s a hidden secret that’s only been known to an elite group of wealthy Dallas families.

Navigating its way through the inflation of the 1970’s, the 1987 stock-market crash, the boom/bust of the tech bubble and the global financial crisis a decade later, Penn Davis McFarland has successfully navigated through several significant market cycles since its founding in 1977.  As a result, the firm has earned the trust of its long-time clients, currently serving the financial needs of the second and third generations of these families.

Two of the three founding principals, John McFarland and John Davis, are still very much involved in the day-to-day, while Fred Penn, the third founder, continues to keep in close contact with clients.  Van Ogden, who joined the firm in the mid-80’s, is also actively involved as a principal and chief operating officer.

To lay the groundwork for the next forty years, the founders focused on adding younger professionals to continue the firm as well as meet the needs of its growing multigenerational client base.  For several clients, the firm also manages their family office, truly taking care of all the client’s financial needs.

“We have an interest in growing our client’s assets over the long term and being their go-to advisor for all things financial in their life,” says Jeff Helfrich, who was recruited by Penn Davis McFarland in 2010 from the Perot family office as part of the firms’ succession plans.

In addition to Helfrich, the firm brought on Robert Felty in 2012, a former U.S. Trust client relationship manager with Bank of America, and in 2015, Charles Norton, formerly a senior portfolio manager at Wells Fargo Private Bank.  The new additions have added a fresh perspective and energy to the team with a confidence about seeing the firm succeed through many more market cycles.

In addition to its long history, Penn Davis McFarland also differs in its approach.  The firm manages portfolios of individual stocks and bonds, preferring direct ownership of an investment rather than through a fund. 

“For equities, we are running a concentrated portfolio, supported by deep fundamental research, with a broad mandate that provides maximum flexibility to capitalize on opportunities wherever we find them.  We run our strategy in separately managed accounts, which allows us to avoid the double-layering of fees and to more actively control tax efficiency and risk exposures,” says portfolio manager, Charles Norton. 

This consistent investment approach and a sharp focus on risk management have allowed the firm and its clients to prosper through so many market cycles over four decades.  And the future looks bright for one of Dallas’ longest tenured investment managers.

To learn more about Penn Davis McFarland, visit

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