‘Why the high charge? We pay to use Buffett’s name’
Most fund managers make a point of their individuality. They have a unique investment style, they say, one that no other investors could capture. Keith Ashworth-Lord, who runs the £487m SDL UK Buffettology fund, does not fit this stereotype. He has no qualms about copying famed American investor Warren Buffett – the Sage of Omaha’s name even adorns the sign above the door.
Mr Ashworth-Lord tells Telegraph Money why he would like to play Britain’s Brexit negotiators at poker and how he failed to make a fortune on funerals.
Why Warren Buffett?
Buffett’s whole style of concentrating exclusively on the business you are investing in and not being put off by the noise of stock markets, politicians or economists appeals to me philosophically.
We are business analysts here, not investment analysts. Buffett says being a businessman makes him a better investor and being an investor makes him a better businessman. I’m no different. As well as running the fund I run Sanford DeLand Asset Management, so everything I do, I do with a businessman’s eye. That appeals to me more than someone who has never run a business and is managing money.
What has been your best investment?
Over the past two years Games Workshop has been an outstanding investment for us – but it’s not been the only one.
Bioventix has been an absolute cracker. When you go and see your GP these days, he always sends you off to have a blood test. These guys make the antibodies that get mixed with your blood as part of the test.
It’s a lovely business model because it’s effectively an annuity stream. They take a royalty every time a test is done. It ticks all the Buffettology boxes.
CV: Keith Ashworth-Lord
Despite a brush with astrophysics as a student, Mr AshworthLord has worked in stock markets for more than 30 years.
He founded Sanford DeLand in 2010 and has also worked at a number of firms.
And your worst?
This one is a perfect combination of our two sell disciplines. One: things have got worse in the business and aren’t about to get better. Two: I’ve messed up and got something wrong.
We invested in Dignity, the funeral firm, last year when I thought we had an ideal opportunity to get in. I thought I knew this industry very well from my 10 years of involvement.
The businesses tend to be quite asset light – you own the hearses and you don’t tend to take your girlfriend out for a spin in them at the weekend, so they last a long time.
Five months later the company announced it was being hit by price competition and was cutting the price of its “no-frills” funerals. My mistake was not to see the introduction of price comparison websites coming. Our investment was about £6.5m. We sold it in January and recouped only about half of that.
Keith AshworthLord tells Sam Meadows why he has based his investing style on the Sage of Omaha’s
What do you make of Brexit?
It’s a wonderful opportunity for this country and it could be a rebirth in a global trading sense. It’s a great chance for an outward-looking Britain to turn away from a protectionist bloc.
My only caveat is that the G Government and civil service co could not have done a worse job of n negotiating this Brexit had they tried. T They have been absolutely useless, sh showing all their cards and not getting an anything back in return. I would love to play poker with those guys, I’d take th them to the cleaners.
Is there a market crash coming?
I don’t try to predict markets at all – th they are their own being. I think it’s a