AOE Member Angus Watt
James Angus Watt BA

“Dad taught us that when we participate in our community, we’re all winners. You win, your community wins and you personally have a better life.”

For more than 40 years, Angus Watt of Edmonton has served Albertans as a respected senior business leader, community builder, volunteer and philanthropist for multiple sectors in Alberta. He shares his vast experience and personal network to invest in the prosperity of the community around him.

James Angus Reid Watt was born on May 4, 1952, in Elmira, Ontario, and named after his grandfathers, Angus Reid and James Watt. His mother Charlotte was a war bride and homemaker. His father Owen enlisted in World War II as a spitfire pilot with the Royal British Air Force, later with the Royal Canadian Air Force, and contributed to the liberation of the Netherlands. After the war, he worked as an advertising salesman.

The family moved to Toronto when Angus was five. Along with his siblings Lynda and Ian, Angus was an active child. Learning to water ski at four and snow ski at five, he later joined Cubs and Scouts, church-organized hockey teams, high school football and rugby, and the Lake of Bays Sailing Club.

Angus had his first job at age 11 – a paper route. Over the years, Angus was inspired by his father, who instilled a strong work ethic and the need to participate in one’s community. His father was adamant that he stay in school and attend university. In 1972, Angus graduated from Laurence Park Collegiate High School in Toronto. Three years later, he completed his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science at York University. Angus served on student councils in leadership positions, including president at high school and vice-president at university. After graduating, his Uncle Angus advised him to “set his priorities,” a message that still resonates with Angus today.

After graduating from university, word came to him that McLeod Young Weir Ltd., investment and securities dealers in Toronto, were looking for new recruits. The new job pointed him in the right direction and, since then, Angus has committed to a lifetime of learning. For nearly 15 of those years, he was a member of TEC (The Executive Committee) 241, a group of business owners focused on additional leadership skills.

In 1976, Angus attended a meeting at the McLeod Young Weir Ltd. offices in Edmonton. There, he met Heather Rea, who was training to become a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch. Angus subsequently transferred to Edmonton, and he and Heather soon married, with children Kate and Jim arriving in the mid-1980s.

In 1982, Angus moved to Levesque Beaubien (now National Bank Financial), where he continues to work as a Senior Wealth Advisor. He is also Founding Partner of the Angus Watt Advisory Group. As central and northern Alberta’s business authority, Angus has provided radio and television financial market reports since the 1970s. Currently, with 32 spots weekly on Global TV, he continues to contribute to Albertans’ financial literacy. He is a selfless mentor to many in the financial sector, supporting them to be successful, and encouraging them to go on and help others.

For the past 40 years and counting, Angus has used his first two priorities – experience and education – to fulfill his third priority: building his community. He volunteers his time and expertise to agencies that provide essential social programming and services. As a result, he has helped build new and more robust community commitments across charitable, private and non-profit sectors. “It’s not always about the money. It’s also about showing up, doing the job you committed to, and leaving the organization in a better position than when you started,” says Angus.

In the health sector, Angus has led and supported many causes, particularly related to mental health, in honour of his brother Ian who committed suicide in 1977. Angus began working in 1992 with the Personal Development Centre (PDC), an agency offering mental health counselling and a suicide bereavement program. Three years later, he spearheaded a merger of the PDC with Community Connections, a distress line offering counselling and training. The result was The Support Network (TSN), an agency offering a host of mental health services. As founding chair of TSN, Angus understood the group needed ongoing, sustainable funding to maintain and expand programs and services, so he created the PDC Foundation, serving as its chair for 10 years. Beyond the valued financial counsel he provided, Angus was an active and engaged volunteer and tireless fundraiser.

Since Little Warriors began in 2008, Angus has served as a valued advisor. He has actively offered mentorship and guidance, sponsored events and raised funds for this charitable organization that supports children and youth dealing with sexual violence.

Angus and his family have a long history with the Alberta Cancer Foundation. Following Heather’s cancer diagnoses in 1998 and 2005, and successful treatment at the Cross Cancer Institute, Angus wanted to ensure others in the community would be able to celebrate similar positive outcomes. For many years, he and his family have held fundraising events for breast cancer research. In 2021, when it was time to develop a $30 million campaign for the Cross, Angus was the first community leader to step forward and volunteer. His team succeeded in raising the funds and increasing the visibility of cancer research at the Cross. Angus is now raising funds to support research to manufacture and use locally produced T-cells as a game-changing immunotherapy treatment.

Angus has also volunteered as treasurer with the Lieutenant Governor’s Circle of Mental Health and Addiction, advisor to the Hearing Foundation of Canada, and he has volunteered with the Stollery Children’s Hospital, Canadian Cancer Society, Kids with Cancer and the Winnifred Stewart Foundation.

In the social sector, Angus worked with co-founder Harry Hole (AOE 2006) to establish the Edmonton Police Foundation, serving as vice-chair and chair. He served as a founding member of the TELUS Community Foundation, chair of the Minerva Foundation and founding director of the CN Community Board. He chaired the 1996 and 1997 United Way of the Alberta Capital Region campaigns, and he co-chaired the David Foster and Friends Charity Gala in 2008.

In the post-secondary education sector, Angus served on the University of Alberta senate, led initiatives supporting students and the university’s community connections, and spearheaded the senate’s Student Mental Health Endowment campaign. Angus has generously supported the university’s Alberta School of Business and its students for close to 30 years, mentoring students at the Rocky Mountain Business Seminar.

Angus has donated his time and expertise in other sectors. He served as chair of the Alberta Order of Excellence Council. He and Heather have been enthusiastic supporters of the Youth Orchestra of Northern Alberta (YONA) since its inception in 2013. He served with distinction as Honorary Consul to the Kingdom of the Netherlands for two consecutive terms, while also serving as chair of the Edmonton Consular Corps.

Angus’ diplomatic roles dovetailed well with his role as Honorary Colonel with the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment, which played a key role in the liberation of the Netherlands and the critical Battle of the Scheldt. As Honorary Colonel (Ret’d), Angus works to raise the profile of Canada’s military, specifically its corps of reservists, connecting the regiment and the community. He also served as vice president and is chair of the South Alberta Light Horse Regiment Foundation. He co-chaired the Military Cup golf tournament for several years with Doug Goss (AOE 2013).

Angus has received multiple honours over the years, including Venture magazine’s Alberta’s 50 most influential people – twice; Paul Harris Fellow Award, Rotary Club of Canada; Community Enrichment Award, National Philanthropy Day 2017; Health Award (We Cross Cancer Campaign), National Philanthropy Day 2022; and Top 150 Wealth Advisors in Canada, The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business/Shook Research (2021, 2022). National Bank Financial Wealth Management has awarded Angus and his advisory group top national or regional honours for the past 10 years. Junior Achievement Northern Alberta Business Hall of Fame will honour Angus as one of 2023’s most esteemed business visionaries, and Wealth Professional Canada named the Angus Watt Advisory Group one of the Best Wealth Management Teams in Canada (2023). Angus has received the Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee Medal (Alberta).

Angus and Heather live in Edmonton and are grateful that their children and four grandchildren do, as well. Angus enjoys and values the time he spends with his family, walking their dogs and getting away to the mountains for golf and skiing.