Established in 1868, F&C Investment Trust was launched with the purpose of bringing investing to those of moderate means. That principle has stood the test of time for 15 decades, through world wars, recessions and financial crises. F&C Investment Trust represented a step-change in the way individuals could access the stock market, paving the way for the development of pooled savings vehicles like unit trusts and open-ended investment companies (OEICs).
F&C Investment Trust was designed to take advantage of the benefits of pooled investment in the markets, whilst managing the risks. The portfolio originally consisted of 18 ‘F&C’ government bonds from Europe, Canada, South America, the Middle East, the USA and New Zealand1.
Diversification has always been at the heart of the Trust, which introduced corporate bonds and mortgages into the portfolio in the 1890s before equities were added in the 1920s. The Trust’s first recorded purchase of an ordinary share was Shell Transport & Trading in 1925. Ninety-years later, this company is still represented in the portfolio as Royal Dutch Shell. As well as listed equities, investors are also able to access private equity exposure through the portfolio, which contains more than 450 holdings including funds.
In recent years, F&C Investment Trust has reduced its UK weighting and begun investing more in overseas equities. It also moved to a global equity benchmark, the FTSE All-World Index in January 20132, to better reflect its global nature.
Since launch, the Trust has paid a dividend to shareholders for each of the last 150 years and increased its dividend every year for the last 47 consecutive years. Though there is no guarantee that dividends will continue to rise or be distributed.
As part of its anniversary year, the Trust has undertaken a series of initiatives, looking forward to the next 150 years to consider how to engage future generations on investing and how the industry needs to adapt to their changing lives. The initiatives include its ‘Bright Futures’ research project, which aims to better understand millennials and their views on money matters, a lecture series with external experts looking at savings and investments from the past through to present and looking into the future, a financial education programme working with the Shakespeare Foundation and City of Glasgow College as well as a variety of roadshows and partnerships to mark the anniversary.
The Chairman, Simon Fraser, commented:
“It is remarkable to think that the original purpose of F&C Investment Trust has remained relevant throughout its long history. Its principles were founded on long-termism, a pioneering approach and a desire to help investors provide for their future. The world may look very different today than it did 150 years ago, but these principles are as valid and relevant now as they were back then.
Despite the growth in the industry, there is still much to be done to help people understand the benefits of saving and investing. Today there is a great need for individuals to plan and take control of their finances. More than ever before, the financial services industry needs to create simple to use, transparent savings products that help everybody in our society invest for the medium to long term, thus securing their financial futures.”