Getting to know Justin Puli, Senior Investment Analyst at Contango January 2016

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Justin Puli loves a challenge. Whether its climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or seeking out investments, he thrives on pushing both his mental and physical fitness levels. Justin joined Contango in April 2015 and is responsible for analysis of the property, gaming, business and consumer services sectors. As he tells Industry Moves, one of the things he most enjoys about the role is that "no day is ever the same". (He also shares a story about his very first job that is very funny indeed!)

Can you briefly describe your role at Contango?

I am a Senior Investment Analyst providing fundamental analysis of current and potential stocks. I’m responsible for the property, gaming, business and consumer services sectors.

Before an investment recommendation can be made, rigorous fundamental analysis must be conducted on the businesses prospects. It involves digging through financial reports, questioning management and understanding how it is positioned within the industry it operates.

What initially drew you to take up the position at Contango?

Firstly, critical to any Investment Team is a shared philosophy. My investment philosophy is framed in understanding the economic environment, but is based on fundamental analysis. This philosophy is at the core of what Contango stands for, and so the opportunity to join the team was appealing.

Secondly, the opportunity to work with Chief Investment Officer George Boubouras. I first met George when we worked together at HSBC Asset Management. His enthusiasm for investment markets is unparalleled and, coupled with his multi asset class investment experience, enables him to deliver industry leading market insights.

Finally, Contango is a significantly resourced boutique. It has all the benefits of operating as a boutique whilst being able to offer investment products covering a number of strategies. This provides exposure to a large investment universe with a depth of coverage across the team that results in highly nuanced investment views.

What do you most enjoy about your role?

No day is ever the same. Investments are made in a dynamic environment, subject to a range of varying factors which continually pose challenges to your investment theses. The challenge is never easy but the enjoyment of making the correct recommendation is always satisfying.

What do you see as your biggest challenge for the next 12 months?

The biggest challenge is always to deliver superior risk adjusted performance, relative to the objectives of our clients. Nuanced analysis of new information flow, including second order impacts will be crucial in delivering these outcomes, particularly during volatile financial market conditions.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

A number of mentors over the years have highlighted that it is a given that an investor needs to be able to model but they also need to think deeply about the factors driving the investment – that is, the “garbage in [the model], garbage out [outcomes]”.

Who do you most admire and how have they influenced your life/work?

I have been fortunate to work with and develop relationships with a number of industry leaders across asset classes. They have reinforced the importance of integrity and taught me investment process discipline which has developed my thinking through the second and third order impacts of new information.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in the Melbourne bayside suburb of Black Rock. The local beach, Half Moon Bay, is the home of wreck HMAS Cerberus, which served in the Victorian Naval Forces (Pre Federation) and Royal Australian Navy between 1871 and 1924 when it was ship wrecked as breakwater.

What was your very first job?

My first job was at the American themed restaurant Lonestar Steakhouse and Saloon when I was 15. Waiting staff are required to line dance, and we all had to demonstrate our skills before the restaurant opened. I felt I nailed my audition… yet somehow ended up working in the kitchen...!

Do you have a secret skill/hidden talent?

I enjoy the outdoors and pushing both my mental and physical fitness levels. Over the years I have completed such activities as around the bay in a day, Oxfam 100km trail walk, climbed Mt Kilimanjaro and run a couple of marathons. I have enjoyed the challenge with each, although recently having a daughter has meant that finding time to train for these activities has become a lot more difficult.

Is there a particular cause or charity that you support?

St Vincent de Paul Society provides a helping hand and a voice for those that they serve. In Australia they have 40,000 members and volunteers who provide assistance to people in need.

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