Jeff Prestridge 

Why this trust is different

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

It is going to be a long hot summer. Especially for Daniel Godfrey as he trawls the City in search of support for his new ambitious investment project. The creation of the People’s Trust, a £100m investment trust with long term investment horizons and one with a social conscience.

Eschewing a summer holiday, Mr Godfrey (ex-director general of both the Association of Investment Trust Companies and the Investment Association) will spend his time plotting away in his delightful London eyrie a stone’s throw from Victoria, occasionally breaking off either to eat fine food prepared by his delightful and courageous wife Frederiki or work out in his custom built gym.

When not eating, sweating or scheming away and looking at the night’s stars for inspiration he will be knocking on the doors of local authority pension funds and investment platforms urging them either to invest in the trust or give it some online airtime. The launch is scheduled for September and there is no reason – despite the inevitable sceptics - why it cannot be a great success.

As its name implies, this is an investment trust for the people (investors), not a fund constructed primarily to make the managers champagne-swilling millionaires. The consumer will be put first. Hurrah.

Not that you would expect anything else from an individual who left the Investment Association after being criticised for being too pro-consumer (he wanted more transparency on fund charges, some of the IA’s most powerful members thought otherwise).

A lot of the building blocks are already in place. Since asking for backing from the public to get the project off the ground last autumn, some 2,400 ‘founders’ (myself included) have stepped forward with financial support. The result is a £110,000 war chest to get the trust off the ground, a source of funding that remains largely intact.

New founders come on board all the time as evidenced last week when I enjoyed a quick supper with Mr Godfrey and his wife at their London home (I’ve known them a long time, Mr Godfrey nearly 30 years).

Occasionally, Mr Godfrey’s phone would give out a joyous bleep as we munched our way through a bed of spinach, indicating that another backer had signed up to the cause. How he smiled as his phone made merry music.

A board has been assembled with Douglas Ferrans (ex-chairman of the Investment Association and investment house Insight) at the chair.

Crucially, an  array of investment managers has been signed up to run the trust’s assets. It is a multi-manager approach and the line-up is impressive. Artemis, Comgest, First State, JO Hambro Capital Investment and Lansdowne Partners make up the team, all bringing a particular investment specialism to the table. The result will be an ongoing charge in the order of 1.1 per cent.

What unites the managers is that Mr Godfrey has signed them all up for seven years. He wants them to be patient investors, investing in companies for the long term (and building a relationship with them in the process).  He is not interested in short-termism. Caring, not raw, capitalism.

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