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Witan’s appointment of two Global Growth managers

Witan’s appointment of WCM Investment Management (“WCM”) and Jennison Associates (“Jennison”) as new investment managers has now been completed, with the portfolio transition taking effect during the latter part of August.

Both US-based managers specialise in high quality and faster growing companies as well as being signatories to the UNPRI (in common with Witan and its other managers).

WCM has been allocated $200m to manage (8% of Witan’s assets). Based in Laguna Beach, California, WCM is an independent asset management firm that runs focused portfolios, comprised of high-quality businesses with growing economic moats, aligned with strong, adaptable corporate cultures, and supported by durable global tailwinds. The portfolio is concentrated in 30 – 40 high conviction investments with the objective of securing long-term excess return and downside protection. As an active manager, WCM believes that their investee companies have meaningful structural advantages which, when allied with a ‘buy and manage’ low turnover approach, will allow long-term outperformance of the relevant benchmark. As of June 30, 2020, WCM’s 62 employees managed $59 billion in client assets.

Jennison has been allocated $100m to manage (4% of Witan’s assets). Mark Baribeau, Head of Global Equities at Jennison Associates, seeks to invest in a portfolio of marketleading companies with innovative business models, positively inflecting growth rates, and long-term competitive advantages. Mark, along with co-portfolio manager Tom Davis and a team of global sector analysts, employs a high conviction, concentrated approach that is sector-, region-, and country-agnostic. The team invests in a select group of companies with innovative and disruptive businesses that are driving structural shifts in their respective industries. They also look for companies with defensible business models and attractive product offerings, supported by secular demand trends. The portfolio typically has between 35 and 45 holdings and securities must meet stringent standards in order to remain or earn a place in the portfolio.

The portfolios were mainly funded from the sale of a US equity exchange traded fund (ETF) which had been used as a temporary means of maintaining market exposure following earlier portfolio changes. The balance was funded by the sale of a £54m UK equity portfolio managed by Heronbridge Investment Management LLP (“Heronbridge”). Heronbridge has managed part of Witan’s portfolio since June 2013, achieving a total return of 36% (to the end of July 2020), ahead of the 27% return from the UK equity market over the same period.

Andrew Bell, CEO of Witan Investment Trust said: 

“We are delighted to add WCM and Jennison this month to our list of managers. They specialise in high-conviction investments in rapidly growing companies and those with increasing competitive advantages that should enable them to win market share and achieve superior business results. At the same time, I must thank Heronbridge for their stewardship of our assets over the past seven years and the outperformance they have delivered for our shareholders.

The new global asset allocation that Witan introduced from January incorporates greater exposure than before to faster growing parts of the world and economic sectors. These appointments represent an important further stage in implementing that policy, providing a degree of specialism that complements the approaches of our other managers.

Witan’s performance had a disappointing start to 2020, when the Covid-19 lockdown measures affected the portfolio adversely, as reported on in detail in our interim results last month. Since May, modest outperformance has resumed, although this is subject to the usual uncertainties and caveats and neither good nor bad performance should be extrapolated.

We believe that our equity portfolio offers a balance across sectors and regions that will reward existing and new investors for their patience, both in terms of net asset value returns and a narrowing discount.”

Further information on WCM and Jennison is available on the Company’s website at www.witan.com/about-witan/meet-the-managers/.

Issued and approved by Witan Investment Services Limited. Witan Investment Trust is an equity investment. Please remember that past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income from it can fall as well as rise as a result of currency and market fluctuations and you may not get back the amount originally invested.

Discrete Performance*

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Benchmark (Total Return)**






* Source: Morningstar, percentage growth to 30th June each year. Total return includes the notional investment of dividends.
** Witan’s benchmark is a composite of 85% Global (MSCI All Country World Index) and 15% UK (MSCI UK IMI Index). From 01.01.2017 to 31.12.2019 the benchmark was 30% UK, 25% North America, 20% Asia Pacific, 20% Europe (ex UK), 5% Emerging Markets. From 01.10.2007 to 31.12.2016 the benchmark was 40% UK, 20% North America, 20% Europe (ex UK) and 20% Asia Pacific.With effect from August 2020, the source for benchmark index performance changed to MSCI International, replacing the previous FTSE source. For more information go to www.witan.com/support/legal-information.


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