Witan Investment Trust
Rated Fund 2013-19. Makes good use of external managers
Since the arrival of chief executive Andrew Bell in 2010, Witan’s performance has improved significantly and the investment trust continues to be a good core holding for lower-risk investors.
Most of its portfolio is managed by external fund managers. When the trust first adopted this approach in 2004, there was a heavy allocation to index-tracking funds, which resulted in mediocre performance. Under Bell, the trust has become actively managed.
Bell decides the asset allocation, chooses external managers running different geographical portfolios – 10 of them at the end of 2018 – and manages a directly invested portfolio that accounts for 10% of the trust’s £2 billion of assets.
The blend of different active approaches and styles aims to improve returns and smooth out the volatility normally associated with a single manager. Such an approach tends to increase the cost of investing, but Witan’s scale means its ongoing charges are a reasonable 0.76%.
Although its yield is relatively modest, at just shy of 2.2%, it has clocked up 44 consecutive years of annual dividend increases.
Founded in 1909, Witan played an important role in the history of the investment trust industry. Having originally been created as a family trust to manage the Henderson family estate, Witan sponsored the setting up of the investment group Henderson in 1932 to manage its investments. The trust became self-managed in 2004, but there is still a member of the Henderson family on the board – the current chairman Harry Henderson.
For most of the past two years, its shares have traded at a small single-digit discount to net asset value. The widest discount in recent history was 9% in 2015.
Narrative and ratings content all as of 01 January 2019.See all Money Observer rated funds
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