JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Should trusts ditch bygone names – and join the modern age?
There is a part of me (driven by nostalgia) that likes that some investment funds are clinging to their glorious past with names that, in some cases, haven’t changed in over 150 years.
There’s a more pragmatic part of me that says it’s time for change – for these trusts (and their boards) to materialize, modernize and move with the times.
Although nostalgia rules my heart and pragmatism my head, I value your opinion. What should prevail: nostalgia or pragmatism? To gauge opinions, may I ask you to do a small exercise.
If you have a spare minute in the next few days, visit the Association of Investment Companies website (theaic.org.uk) and look for investment funds that have global investment mandates.
The list will include aptly named funds such as Martin Currie Global Portfolio and AVI Global. Yet it will also include a series of names that will leave virtually all trust enthusiasts scratching their heads as to whether their search went wrong.
Modern times: some British investment funds are moving with the times
Monks? Brunner? Bankers? Are they really investment funds designed to make money for shareholders by investing in stock markets around the world? The answer is yes. Although the three funds are run by investment houses Baillie Gifford, Allianz and Janus Henderson respectively, their labels date from a bygone era.
Monks was the third in a series of investment funds launched almost 100 years ago by the investment bank of JC im Thurn & Sons from offices in Austin Friars, an area of the City of London named after a medieval monastery (the other two trusts were Friars and abbots). Although Baillie Gifford took over the trust in 1931, it remained with Monks.
Brunner was founded in 1927 by the Brunner family after the sale of their chemical company Brunner, Mond & Co. The trust now has an impressive 51 years of dividend growth to its name.
Meanwhile, Bankers was founded 135 years ago, originally overseen by seven… (yes, you guessed it) bankers. Its record of income growth is even more spectacular than Brunner’s: 56 consecutive years of annual dividend increases.
All fine and dandy. But should these trusts now be renamed to give outsiders a better idea of what all the fuss is about? Should they be renamed Baillie Gifford Global Growth, Allianz Global Growth & Income and Janus Henderson Global Growth & Income?
In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the country’s investment regulator) has just required mutual funds to ensure that the portfolios they manage are consistent with their names.
So if a US mutual fund uses “artificial intelligence” in its title, it must have at least 80 percent of its assets in AI-related stocks. Although the regulator here (the Financial Conduct Authority) has drawn up plans to improve the labeling of ethical or ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) funds, the historical names of trusts are not on the radar.
Yet some British investment funds are moving with the times. Earlier this year, the board of Securities Trust of Scotland decided that the fund’s name needed a 21st century reboot. It has now been renamed STS Global Income & Growth, reflecting its global investment mandate and emphasis on a combination of income and growth returns.
Should more trusts follow suit? In addition to the previous three suggestions, should Scottish Mortgage – the country’s largest investment fund – be renamed Baillie Gifford World Enterprise in recognition of its focus on start-up businesses?
And should City of London become Janus Henderson UK Equity Income Growth, given the emphasis on increasing the dividend? Or is the name of a trust irrelevant – and what really matters is that the managers adhere to the investment objectives underlying the fund and maximize shareholder returns? I can’t wait to hear from you.
The old post office has never been more important
Village Centre: Barry and Mary Ford for securing the future of the world’s oldest post office in Sanquhar
Hats off to Barry and Mary Ford for securing the future of the world’s oldest post office in Sanquhar, Dumfries and Galloway.
It has been open since 1712 and has only had 16 operators in that time.
The Fords have taken over from Nazra Alam who, after the death of her husband Dr. Manzoor Alam (a postal historian), has returned to live with her family in the Midlands.
Post offices are integral to the health of our high streets, especially in light of the demise of the bank branch.
I wish the Fords in the photo the best of luck – and will visit them soon.
Postal workers, many of whom have been treated poorly by their former bosses, are doing an excellent job of preserving the high streets of towns and villages across the country.
If your postmaster is a local hero, let me know.
I just came to say hello.
Speeds are falling, but will the cost of car coverage rise?
Slow down: The lower speed limit of 30 km/h is unlikely to help reduce insurance costs
A number of readers have been in touch about the new 20mph speed limit just introduced by the Welsh Government on built-up roads. Michael Hine, from Pembrokeshire, and Russell Gowen, from Flintshire, are both over 70 – and have seen their car insurance premiums rise in recent months.
But with Welsh Labor First Minister Mark Drakeford claiming the new speed limit will reduce collisions by 40 per cent a year, they are now asking a very pertinent question: ‘Will insurers include this in their premium calculations from the middle of last month? when it was introduced?’ Unfortunately, Michael and Russell, the answer is no.
There is a greater chance that pigs will fly than that insurers will do anything to ease the pain for policyholders caused by skyrocketing premiums.
Recent visitors to Malta were keen to ask if I have set up a side business in the capital Valletta. The business in question is Jeff’s Pastizzeria, which serves tasty pastizzi, the island’s traditional savory pastries.
“Is this your secret money laundering venture?” asks the latest reader to visit the restaurant – long-standing (and eagle-eyed) reader John Allison, from Musselburgh, East Lothian. He came across the restaurant this month while on vacation with his wife, Kathleen.
Lucrative side business?: Recent visitors to Malta wanted to ask if I have set up a side business in the capital Valletta
The answer, John, is no (the day job keeps me completely busy). But it did bring back fond memories of my last visit to the island, when I took part in the Malta International Challenge Marathon – three runs totaling 42.2 kilometers in three days.
Having completed the event in a rather miserable time, I celebrated by wolfing down some pastizzi, filled with ricotta and washed down with the fantastic Girgentina white wine. But not at Jeff’s Pastizzeria.
Will confidence return?
Are you a little more confident in your finances than earlier this month?
I ask this in light of the (unexpected) drop in inflation (from 6.8 to 6.7 percent) and the Bank of England’s decision just over a week ago to keep interest rates at 5.25 percent .
I wish so.
While we are far from out of the woods, we can hope that the British economy will emerge from the recession – and that Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will start thinking about removing the layers of the tax yoke he has put around all our necks.
We can’t continue like this.
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