When W.A. Bryan Patten left his job as a portfolio manager at the former Hamilton National Bank to start his own investment advisory firm with his twin brother Cartter, a friend told the Pattens he admired their courage but predicted the business wouldn't last very long.
Nearly four decades later, Patten and Patten Inc. has grown into one of Chattanooga's oldest and biggest investment firms, managing more than $1.2 billion of funds for hundreds of individual, family and business clients.
Last year, Cartter Patten and his daughter, Ashlee, split off from the family firm and Patten & Patten has since revamped some of its senior management team under the leadership of CEO Bryan Patten and company president Ray Ryan. Mark Fleck, a chartered financial analyst, became a principal in the firm, while Stephanie Graham, a CPA, was appointed chief financial office and William F.A. Decosimo, continues as a research analyst at the firm while he completes his required work experience to become a chartered financial analyst.
Despite the changes over the past year, Patten said the firm's investment approach remains the same, focusing its independent and intensive market research on a few hundred of the most promising publicly traded companies based upon their quality, value and growth potential.
"We take a long-term view of the economy," says Patten, the grandson of one of Chattanooga's leading business pioneers, Z. Cartter Patten, who helped start many of Chattanooga's most successful businesses in the 19th century. "We like to buy well capitalized companies that we perceive are trading at a discount to what we think their value should be in the market."
The 14-employee investment firm is housed in the Patten's historic Fountain Square office just across Lookout Street from the corporate headquarters of Unum Group, more than 800 miles away from Wall Street.
"Having spent time on Wall Street, I recognize there is a kind of herd mentality up there," says Ryan, who joined the firm 16 years ago and is one of four portfolio managers in the company. "The way information flows we don't lack for information being where we are, and we pride ourselves of our own independent analysis."