Taking Stock

Our quarterly investment trust magazine

ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS: Building on lessons learned

It’s natural to be inspired by others who’ve been successful in our eyes. From exceptional bosses and enviable friends to those who seem able to turn everything they touch into gold.

Inspiration doesn’t just come from individuals though. Whilst we all understand that past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, inspiration can also come from the established track record of a successful team or investing approach.

In this edition of Taking Stock, our expert contributors outline their approach to portfolio management, highlighting lessons learned from those who have come before them.

How do they apply those lessons in the interests of investors today? Are there specific formulas for success? Or is it more about sticking to the basics and working hard to get those right?


  • Rise of the activists – Whether you see shareholder activists as heroes or villains, their profile is undoubtedly on the rise. Alliance Trust Savings’ James McCafferty looks at some of the ways that investors are being inspired to use their rights to influence the corporate agenda.
  • It’s too early to tell – The Scottish Investment Trusts’ Alistair McKinnon looks back at the 2008/9 financial crisis, considering how major events in human history can cause reverberations for surprisingly long periods of time and how reality can also be distorted to suit the interests of those involved.
  • The resilient ones – For the Scottish American Investment Trust, the shoulders on which it stands are resilient companies that provide investors with a dependable dividend income regardless of market adversity, while also promising future growth. Toby Ross explains its approach.
  • Trusting in income – A focus on paying a consistent level of income can make a trust attractive in its investors’ eyes. Rhys David of Invesco outlines the approach taken by each of City Merchants High Yield Trust Limited and Invesco Enhanced Income Limited to go about achieving this.
  • Inspired to deliver the best of most worlds – For Lucy Macdonald, Portfolio Manager for The Brunner Investment Trust, successful portfolio composition is all about detailed analysis to ensure that every investment held is there for a good reason. And in that, she has taken inspiration from at least one investing great.
  • A dedicated follower of unfashion – Alex Wright of Fidelity nails his colours to the mast as a contrarian investor. He’s inspired by 25 years’ heritage and history of contrarian investing at Fidelity Special Values PLC, believing it’s a field in which it takes a particular mind-set and a highly disciplined approach to succeed.
  • Taking income higher with real estate – The ability of real estate to generate a high and dependable income and withstand economic volatility continues to make it an important element of many investors’ portfolios, says Andrew Allen of Aberdeen Standard Investments – provided you choose assets carefully.
  • Inspiring dividend heroes – For investors in search of income, heroes don’t necessarily wear capes. Alliance Trust Savings’ Sara Wilson reviews the dividend paying track record of investment trusts and outlines some of the reasons for their potential to pay out consistently and reliably over the years.

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Alliance Trust Savings Limited 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 Limited gives no financial or investment advice. ‘Alliance Trust Savings’, ‘ATS’ and 'AT Savings' are all brand names of Alliance Trust Savings Limited together with the ‘Alliance Trust Savings’ logo are owned by and used with the permission of Alliance Trust PLC, the previous owner of Alliance Trust Savings Limited.