Taking Stock

Our quarterly investment trust magazine

Backing a winner? MARKERS AND MEASURES OF SUCCESS

We invest to make the most of our money. Aiming to grow our capital, to generate an income or a combination of both. But how can we know if we’re backing a winner that’s likely to deliver what we need over the longer term? Is choosing where to invest an art or a science?

These are challenging questions at any time, and the choppy market conditions we experienced at the end of 2018 may also mean they are more at the forefront of many investor minds than in recent years.

That’s why, in this edition of Taking Stock, we asked our expert contributors to explore some of the markers and measures for investing success.

From the length of service of an investment manager, through whether they invest in their own fund, to teamwork and process. What exactly is it that can give managers the edge? How do they go about benchmarking their own success? And how can you use that information to help decide if you’re on the right track?

Highlights:

  • An investor’s guide to data sources – When researching investments and assessing their performance there’s a vast amount of data available to investors these days. James McCafferty highlights some of the main sources in this brief guide.
  • We’re talking success – After many years when markets have seen near-uninterrupted growth, it seems the investment environment may be changing. Tony Foster and Bruce Stout of Aberdeen Standard Investments discuss how investors’ measures of success may need to adapt.
  • How to pick an investment company – Nick Britton of the Association of Investment Companies shares his views on how to go about narrowing down the investment field, explaining why he sees successful investing as a learning process in which skill, patience and luck are all involved.
  • A contrarian approach can pay dividends – Alasdair McKinnon of The Scottish Investment Trust explores why his team prefers to plot its own course rather than following the herd. They see value in ugly duckling stocks shunned by others but with potential to improve. From wine to retail.
  • Ediston: Epic for income – The Ediston Property Investment Company aims to pay a highly competitive dividend in monthly instalments. Manager Calum Bryce explains how they go about achieving this, from a focus on cash-flow to looking beyond the physical buildings themselves to how they ‘live and breathe’.
  • Extreme returns – James Budden of Baillie Gifford shares the challenging findings of Professor Hendrik Bessembinder’s academic research into investment returns, including his conclusion that compounding, not profit taking, is key to achieving long-term investment success.
  • Celebrating 130 years – and looking to the future – The Merchants Trust was established in the same year the Eiffel Tower was opened. It’s survived two world wars, the great depression, the 1970s inflationary shock and the global financial crisis. Manager Simon Gergel explores the reasons why.
  • Straightforward investing – Nitin Bajaj of Fidelity has a very simple investment philosophy: buy good businesses, run by competent and honest people, and at a price that leaves enough margin of safety for mistakes and bad luck. He explains how this plays out in the stocks he picks.
  • Facts, figures and humans – Facts and figures like charges, performance, risk ratings and investment objectives may not be all you want to consider when deciding where to put your money. Sara Wilson explores some of the more human clues you might also pick up on.
  • Optimistic investing in a challenging market – Mark Barnett of Invesco explains why, despite a challenging global economic backdrop and ongoing uncertainty around the nature of our future relationship with Europe, he remains optimistic about the UK’s future prospects for investors.

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Alliance Trust Savings Limited is a subsidiary of Alliance Trust PLC and is registered in Scotland No. SC 98767, registered office, PO Box 164, 8 West Marketgait, Dundee DD1 9YP; is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority, firm reference number 116115. Alliance Trust Savings gives no financial or investment advice.