‘Why the high charge? We pay to use Buf­fett’s name’

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - INVESTING -

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

www.tele­graph.co.uk/funds

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