100 year old investment trusts – the 10 that have increased their dividends for at least 30 years

16th July 2014

As the centenary of the Great War approaches, the Association of Investment Companies (AIC) has taken a look at the investment companies that have been around for a hundred years or longer.

Some 26 AIC member companies were established before 1914 and are still around today, currently representing some £25.5bn between them. This equals almost a quarter (23%) of the investment company industry’s £114.5bn assets under management, illustrating both the long-term success and the durability of the closed-ended sector.

Furthermore, 10 companies of the 26 have consecutively increased their dividends for at least 30 years.

The companies in existence one hundred years ago which have strong dividend records are: Alliance Trust (47 years), Bankers Investment Trust (47 years), City of London Investment (47 years), Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust (43 years), F&C Global Smaller Companies (43 years), Merchants Trust (32 years), Scottish American Investment Trust (34 years), Scottish Investment Trust (30) Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (31 years), and Witan Investment Trust (39 years).

What enables a closed-ended investment company to survive and thrive over a century of financial turbulence?

John Newlands, head of investment companies research at Brewin Dolphin Ltd and author of ‘Put not your trust in money’, a history of the sector, said: “Having studied a number of the long-lived trusts in historical detail, I have been struck by the way that they have proved robust enough to survive every crash and global conflict in history and then move forward again. A minority of others fell by the wayside, of course. But I am convinced that by investing in a spread of quality companies, each one of which has been closely scrutinised prior to purchase, the enduring trusts have created portfolios that are as tough as ox hide.  This is a message that is forgotten in the good times but is worth reminding investors when sentiment is at low ebb.”

The Alliance Trust was launched in 1888. Katherine Garrett-Cox, chief executive of Alliance Trust, said: “Companies survive and grow because they understand the needs of their customers and their shareholders and can adapt to meet these needs as they change over time. Alliance Trust epitomises this ability to provide a product that has remained relevant to shareholders for generations. In order to do so, we have successfully identified and mitigated threats and we have not been afraid to make strategic changes when the need arose. We also never forget that the assets we manage belong to our shareholders, some of whom are descended from our original investors in 1888, and it is in their interests that we work to create long-term value through the investment decisions we make.

“When the company was founded, it was a mortgage bank; borrowing money from investors in the UK and lending it to pioneer farmers in the north western United States, in places such as Oregon and Washington State. In the intervening 126 years, at various times Alliance Trust has been predominantly invested in mortgages, land, bonds and now equities and during that time we have survived wars, recessions, depressions, crashes and hyperinflation. Today we are one of the largest investment trusts in the UK, with a concentrated portfolio of global equities which delivers a combination of capital growth and a consistently growing income. Throughout this time, we have striven to think creatively about how best to serve our shareholders to ensure that we continue to live up to our motto of ‘investing for generations’.”

Garrett Fish, Manager of JPMorgan American Investment Trust, which was launched in 1881, added: “JPMorgan American Investment Trust has benefitted over the long-term from its actively managed exposure to the broadly diversified US equity market. Our outperformance of the S+P 500 over the last decade has stemmed in part from the Trust’s wide investment mandate, to search out and invest in the best companies which are attractive from a valuation standpoint. The dynamic nature of the US economy has continued to attract capital as new and existing companies grow their businesses, invest in new technologies and generate attractive returns. The trust remains relevant in providing investors with a gateway to this marketplace and has successfully demonstrated its resilience across market cycles.”

Association of Investment Companies member companies in existence for one hundred years or longer

Company Sector Launch date Assets under management  (£m)
Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust Global Jan 1868 2607.53
Investment Company (Miton) UK Equity Income Jan 1868 19.05
Dunedin Income Growth UK Equity Income Feb 1873 469.91
Scottish American Global Equity Income Mar 1873 429.00
JPMorgan American North America Jan 1881 761.47
Mercantile UK All Companies Dec 1884 1,881.86
JPMorgan Overseas Global Jan 1887 267.28
Scottish Investment Trust Global Jul 1887 833.75
Henderson Smaller Companies UK Smaller Companies Dec 1887 515.05
Alliance Trust Global Apr 1888 3223.35
Bankers Global Apr 1888 675.04
British Empire Securities & General Global Jan 1889 862.72
F&C Global Smaller Companies Global Feb 1889 454.63
Merchants UK Equity Income Feb 1889 662.13
Edinburgh Investment UK Equity Income Mar 1889 1,444.40
Law Debenture Corporation Global Dec 1889 641.43
City of London UK Equity Income Jan 1891 1157.16
British Assets Global Equity Income Jan 1898 498.82
TR Property Property Securities May 1905 980.24
BlackRock Smaller Companies UK Smaller Companies Feb 1906 474.78
Witan Pacific Asia Pacific – Including Japan Dec 1907 167.31
Murray International Global Equity Income Dec 1907 1,475.38
Scottish Mortgage Global Jan 1909 3,074.01
Witan Global Feb 1909 1,511.27
London & St Lawrence Global Equity Income Mar 1910 105.33
Hansa Trust (Ord) UK All Companies Jan 1912 298.04

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