Our Story

Long before we came together formally, we were both deeply interested in investing. Our careers began in very different directions, but they converged as we discovered the teachings of legendary value investor Warren Buffett.

Chris became interested in investing during college, where he was fascinated with his courses in finance and investing. His career began in 1992 at a Florida bank where he worked in internal audit, then finance and then equity research. Over the course of a few years, acquisitions of his employers would carry him through the research departments of the bank, then to a startup investment firm with his former CIO, and later to a family investment office (one steeped in the principles of Buffett’s investment approach). In addition, in 1999, he earned the CFA designation. During these years he was immersed in the research and analysis of companies, and increasingly through the lens of Buffett’s methods. He was fortunate to experience the years of the technology bubble collapse while being invested in a concentrated group of high quality companies. And through additional good fortune, the operational experience and expertise developed during the two years at a startup would later serve as the foundation for the design of Capco’s operations.

Will entered the law in 1992, and practiced in the area of business litigation, becoming a partner with his firm in 1999. Over time, however, Will became increasingly interested in investing and devoted much of his free time to studying and investing for himself. Will found Buffet’s teachings and developed an investment approach that would ultimately result in a successful investment experience while avoiding the technology bubble. Will’s results during the market collapse decided him on a change of career. Lacking formal financial credentials and experience, he formed (a very tiny) Capco, and simultaneously went back to school for an MBA in case it became necessary to seek more conventional employment. Fortunately, that turned out not to be necessary.

Throughout this period, our philosophy was deepening. Buffett sets forth a number of very simple, highly attractive principles, but they are more easily said than implemented. For instance, concentration is a defining principle of Buffett’s approach, and ours. It is quite easy to say that one should concentrate one’s investments in a few great businesses. The challenge, with each step being increasingly difficult, is that one must first, determine exactly what makes a great business, then identify one out of the great mass of public companies, and then be able to buy it at an attractive price. And, it is another order of difficulty entirely to have the confidence to then invest a large portion of one’s net worth – and one’s clients’ – on those convictions. By the time we came together in 2004, we were very confident in our philosophy and how we would implement it. In that same year, we explained our investment approach in detail in our Statement of Investment Philosophy (and we continue to provide that document to every new client today).

At this point, we felt ready: separately and together, we had accumulated enough investment experience that we were confident we knew how to implement the philosophy. We had firm, practical ideas about how the firm’s operations should run. And we shared the same ideas about how our firm would treat clients.

All we lacked were the clients themselves, and the staying power to endure long enough to attract clients and establish a track record. In all likelihood, Capco would not exist if our friend and colleague, John Touchton, had not encouraged us to go into business together. John offered to back us and became our minority partner. He believed, as we did: “if we build it, they will come.” John and his family have been patient and principled above all other considerations. They have been unfailingly supportive in tough situations, grounded when things have gone well, and they always ask the right questions. We could not have better partners – their involvement gave us the freedom to start and grow our way, at our pace.

We didn’t start in a garage, but we did start above one. The early years were frugal ones. In 2004, when we came together, we moved out of Will’s extra bedroom and into the space above Chris’ garage. An auspicious launch! A few like-minded clients took a chance on us, and we were off. In the next few years, we steadily added clients who had a shared belief in our philosophy and approach. In early 2008, just as we were reaching critical mass and moving our offices downtown…the world was about to enter the greatest financial crisis of a generation.

That crisis would prove to be a defining moment for our firm. The philosophy and criteria with which we chose our investments gave us great confidence that these companies would not only survive the downturn, but also outperform. The crisis also proved we had partnered with the right clients – to a person, they stood fast.

Our success through the downturn cemented a number of ideas for us. Our belief in the criteria we use to select a few great companies, and our process for verifying them, was already strong, but this was great validation. And while there are many ways to be a successful value investor, our preference for the most durable, highest quality businesses was powerfully reinforced. We also saw first-hand the value of having clients who believe in our principles and approach. Without their support, all the investment discipline in the world would have been moot. But with it, we could play offense, and as the panic created attractive opportunities, we became fully invested in December 2008 for the first time in our history. Trust and confidence are always important, but they are critical in a panic; we work hard in the “off-season” to earn that trust and confidence.

Our goals are to continue what got us here: compounding capital at attractive rates for our partners, while occasionally adding new partners who share our principles.