Investment Trusts 

AIC celebrates long manager tenures at trusts

AIC celebrates long manager tenures at trusts

More than half of investment trust companies with at least a 10-year track record have had the same person at the helm for that decade, according to the industry association. 

A recent report from the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) showed that some 10 per cent of member companies had even been led by the same manager for 20 years. 

Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director of the AIC said it was reassuring for investors who are often instructed to think long-term that so many investment companies have managers with impressively long records. 

The investment company industry’s longest-serving manager is Peter Spiller, who has managed Capital Gearing for more than 37 years, while Simon Knott, manager of Rights & Issues has been in his role for 35 years, and Hugh Young has helped manage Aberdeen New Dawn since its launch 30 years ago.

The longest-serving woman is Katie Potts, who has managed Herald’s Global Smaller Companies since February 1994. 

"With markets always unpredictable, it’s reassuring for investors that many investment company managers have steered their company through different conditions, experiencing good times and bad," said Ms Brodie-Smith. 

"With the structural benefits of investment companies, such as not having to deal with inflows and outflows, it’s easy to see why managers might enjoy working on investment companies for long periods," she added.

And the trend is continuing. Since last year, an additional 13 fund managers celebrated a 10-year anniversary of managing their investment company, according to the AIC.

Mark Thomas, head of investment companies at consultancy Hardman & Co, said this was good news for the industry. 

He said: "Permanent capital allows long-term conviction investment decisions free from short-term noise.

"A manager with a long-term, good track record with a fund is likely to be given more flexibility to take such decisions than someone in new shoes."

But even managers with a long track record can be distracted. Mr Thomas said: "What is really critical is that they stick to the knitting and do not deviate from what they have done well in the past."

James Henderson, co-manager of Lowland Investment Company, said a key feature of the investment trust structure was the independent board of directors, something that is being implemented on other UK fund structures from September this year. 

The Financial Conduct Authority decided managers across the industry needed to be scrutinised over their approach and choice of strategy, and demanded each asset management company has a dedicated board, with at least two independent, non-executive director taking up this oversight role.

Mr Henderson said the value of the board was one of the most important things he had learned over his career, during which time he had been tested and challenged in order to get the best outcome for shareholders. 

"Their investment insights and support in the good times – as well as the bad – adds real value," said Mr Henderson. 

When he joined the trust in 1990, a share cost £1.70. It now costs closer to £13.50 and is set to pay an annual dividend of 59p a share, he pointed out.