David leads the delivery of investment, planning, fiduciary, administrative, and family office services to a select group of clients with a special interest in family foundations and family philanthropy.

Previously, David practiced as a tax accountant for seven years at regional firms that managed the tax, audit, and general accounting needs of wealthy families and their closely held businesses. He then formed his own tax advisory firm to offer strategic advice and family office services before joining Sentinel Trust.

David is also an instructor in Rice University’s financial planning program and teaches income tax strategy to students sitting for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam.

Professional Background:

  • Managing Member, Smith & Zahn CPAs, PLLC, Houston, TX (2013–2014) – Managed a local public accounting firm to serve the tax and accounting needs of high-net-worth individuals and closely held businesses.
  • Tax Accountant, Carolyn Allen CPA, PC, Houston, TX (2010–2013)
  • Staff, Maddox, Thomson, & Associates, PC, Houston, TX (2009–2010)
  • Staff, Weinstein Spira & Company, PC, Houston, TX (2007–2010)

Professional Organizations:

  • Houston Estate and Financial Forum, Board Member
  • Houston Business and Estate Planning Counsel, Member
  • Texas State Board of Public Accountancy, Member


University of Houston, BBA, cum laude (2007)



Certified Public Accountant (2009)


Community Involvement:

  • Rice University CFP® Certification Education Program, Former Instructor
  • Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Commercial Exhibits Committeeman
  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Young Leaders Board Member
  • Casa de Esperanza Young Professionals, Former Member
  • Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) Houston, Former Board Chairman
  • Knights of Columbus, Member


  • “Accounting for Fiduciary Entities,” Texas Banking Association’s Graduate Trust School (July 2020)

WATCH: All About Family Foundations – October 2021

Senior Investment Officer Katherine M. Rose, MBA, CFA is joined by Senior Relationship Officer David L. Zahn, CPA, CFP® in discussing private family foundations in this month’s video update.

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On Watch – September 2021

The latest edition of On Watch is now available for download. This issue features articles about creating a lasting family foundation, an overview of the advantages and challenges of Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs), and using 529 Plans to get a jump-start on education savings. Contributors to this issue are David L. Zahn, CPA, CFP®;…

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Sentinel Trust Announces Senior Officer Promotions

HOUSTON, Dec 20, 2018 — Sentinel Trust Company, LBA, one of the nation’s leading boutique wealth management firms and multi-family offices, is pleased to announce senior officer promotions: Dennis A. Montz, MBA, CFA, CAIA is promoted to Managing Director, Director of Private Investments. Helen Qu, MBA, CFA, CPA, CAIA is promoted to Senior Vice President,…

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On Watch – September 2018

The latest edition of On Watch is now available for download. This issue features articles about blockchain technology, the role of a foundation trustee, and IRS guidance regarding miscellaneous itemized deductions. Contributors to this issue are Catherine Lee Clarke, CFA, David L. Zahn, CPA, CFP(R), and Leslie Kiefer Amann, JD. To receive email alerts about future issues…

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