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Investment policy

Investment approach

Investment is best kept simple to succeed. Complexity adds cost, risks confusion and usually hinders performance. This philosophy is adhered to by the eight portfolios.

When deciding strategy, little attention is paid to short term market ‘noise’. The portfolios contain a blend of strategies and preferences, but the overarching strategy is to hold companies which create wealth and add value. The focus remains on the longer term when assessing sentiment and fundamentals, and volatility is therefore seen as an opportunity.

The portfolios remain invested and seek to add value over time. We consider time spent in the market is more important than market timing. Such an approach also allows the full harvesting of dividends which become an increasingly important contributor to total return. The portfolios also recognise the importance of rebalancing and diversification.

Portfolio changes should not be seen in isolation. An ‘holistic’ view is taken of each of the eight portfolios. Changes need to be judged as part of the whole, rather than simply a list of individual trades, as their management reflect a range of factors.

Website history

After university and the Army, John Baron entered the City as a fund manager and, in a career spanning 14 years, ran a broad range of investment portfolios as a director of both Henderson Private Clients and then Rothschild Asset Management (RAM). He remains a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI).

Since leaving the City, John has helped charities monitor their fund managers, written the book ‘FT Guide to Investment Trusts’, and regularly speaks at investment seminars. Since 2009, he has written a monthly column for the Investors Chronicle magazine which reports on the Summer and Autumn portfolios (called 'Growth' and 'Income' in the magazine).

This website was created in January 2014 to complement coverage of the Summer and Autumn portfolios with three further portfolios – Spring, Winter and Thematic. 2016 saw a subscription service introduced and the addition of the Dividend and LISA portfolios. In January 2018, the Overseas portfolio was introduced – making eight in total.

Furthermore, during 2016, the website was sold to Equi Ltd where John is a director. The company structure will assist with the website’s development. The website will also continue to evolve with the support of its members.

Why investment trusts?

In part because of their closed-ended structure, investment trusts perform better than unit trusts or OEICs. They also tend to outperform their benchmarks, unlike their open-ended cousins. This performance is helped by their ability to ‘gear’ the portfolio, more competitive fees and better suitability for certain illiquid asset classes, such as commercial property.

However, because of investment trusts' gearing and discounts, volatility can be the price investors pay to access their many advantages. This is why they are best suited to the long term investor. The Commentary piece 'Private investor seminar speech' (22 February 2018) explains some of their characteristics in more detail and why they are becoming more popular.

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