Throughout his career, Clifton Morris has had an aptitude for recognizing a solid business investment opportunity.
The Fort Worth native who has been a certified public accountant for more than 50 years has used his business acumen to rise from ownership of his own accounting firm to CEO of AmeriCredit Corp., which was purchased in 2010 by General Motors and is now known as GM Financial and still based in Fort Worth.
Morris led the company, which was one of the largest subprime auto lenders in the country, from 1988 to 2005. He served as CEO from 1988 until 2000, when he stepped down but continued to serve as chairman of the board of the company he co-founded.
But in 2003, he returned to helm as CEO to help resurrect the company that was facing financial trouble at the time. After a successful restructuring, he stepped down for good in 2005 at age 70.
He continued to service as chairman until 2010, when the firm was acquired by General Motors for about $3.5 billion.
Morris and company President Daniel Berce, who succeeded Morris as CEO, were credited with developing a plan that got employees focused, a move that help save the company. Before Morris returned, the company’s stock was trading at about $4 a share but rose to nearly $26 per share after the restructuring.
Aside from AmeriCredit, Morris was instrumental in the early formulation and initial public offerings of Cash America International and Service Corporation International (SCI). He had served in several key positions at Fort Worth-based Cash America, the Fort Worth-based publically-traded firm that now operates more than 800 pawnshops across the United States.
Morris continues to serve on the board of directors of Houston-based SCI, where he previously held financial leadership positions for the public company that provides funeral and cemetery services.
A Lifetime member of the Texas Society of Certified Public Accountants, Morris is an honorary member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. He was named 2001 Business Executive of the Year by the Fort Worth Business Hall of Fame. He is also an avid community volunteer, having served on the Community Foundation of North Texas, Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and Fort Worth Country Day School.
– Marice Richter
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Always hire protégés who are smarter than you are.
What advice would you give an entrepreneur?
Do not let capital be a barrier to entry to your dream idea or company. There is always capital for sound opportunities.