We didn’t set out with the goal of accumulating as many clients as possible; we set out simply to build personally rewarding, long-term relationships with a select group of philosophically aligned partners. We have no intention of becoming a large firm because we believe size can cause problems.
The goal of our organization from the outset was to create an undistracted environment in which we enjoy the freedom to concentrate on our clients and our research. We have cultivated a hard-working but informal culture. We are high-energy but not high-strung. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we are intent on getting better and we encourage the same for our clients and colleagues.
We value permanence in everything we do, and this applies especially to our relationships. To us, the most meaningful relationships are about more than the well-executed delivery of investment advice; they involve the ability to apply perspective and process consistently over decades.
Our firm traces its roots back to the early 1980’s when Howard Punch began his career at Merrill Lynch in New York City. With initial exposure to equity research, Howard quickly developed an affinity for research and portfolio management, and he eventually moved back to his native Minnesota to build his own practice in the Twin Cities.
While life at a large wirehouse had its benefits, developing and applying a unique, value-oriented investment style within this framework had its challenges and distractions. Howard developed the belief that unique research could be a competitive weapon toward the goal of creating superior returns for clients over time. Research could only be unique if it was not shared with many but quietly put to work within the context of a defined investment discipline. Howard likes to say, “After nearly twenty years at Merrill, we either had to change our investment philosophy or change our address.” Needless to say, we decided to do the latter.
In 1998, Andy Matysik joined Howard at Merrill, and in 2002, they founded Punch & Associates. With a team of four people by the end of the year—John Carraux joined in the summer of 2002—and approximately one hundred clients, we set out to be a trusted partner to a limited number of clients. Today we are a firm of fifteen employees with $1.2 billion in assets under management.