Buffettology firm nabs from Franklin Templeton for first CEO

Keith Ashworth-Lord steps back as MD at Sanford Deland to focus on Warren Buffett-inspired fund

Franklin Templeton Investments director for UK retail sales Alex Brotherston has said there is an increasingly important role for boutiques in the industry as he leaves the $650bn global asset manager to become chief executive of Sanford Deland (SDL), a UK equities firm offering two strategies, one of which is only £14.5m in size.

Brotherston joined Franklin Templeton in 2011 when it took over Rensburg Fund Management, where he had worked for 15 years, latterly as joint chief executive.

His appointment at SDL, home to Keith Ashworth-Lord’s £664m UK Buffettology fund and Rosemary Banyard’s £14.5m Free Spirit fund, takes effect from 1 April. It is the firm’s first CEO as Ashworth-Lord steps back from the role of managing director to become chief investment officer.

Brotherston will focus on administration, finance and strategy.

He said: “The growing importance of boutique asset managers is a key trend in the industry; the advantages and investment edge of smaller firms is now widely recognised.”

Ashworth-Lord (pictured), who founded SDL in 2010, said they were “steadily building out” the small company, which has not had any dedicated sales team and uses Castlefield as an outsourced authorised corporate director.

In November 2016, the firm nabbed Banyard, who had worked at Schroders for 17 years. She launched the Free Spirit fund in January 2017 and told Portfolio Adviser in a profile interview late last year it should reach around £25m by its three-year anniversary in 2020.

There has been no in-house sales team at SDL, but Candlewick Capital has recently been appointed to market Free Spirit Fund alongside UK Buffettology Fund and grow AUM.

Ashworth-Lord described the CEO appointment as a milestone in the firm’s development.

“Now is the appropriate time for me to concentrate all my energy on managing the Buffettology Fund and the investment side of the business,” he added.

While only Ashworth-Lord’s fund is licensed to use the Buffettology name – and also has a holding in Berkshire Hathaway shares – both strategies apply the “business perspective investing” approach to stockpicking. This looks at a number of factors, such as branding or patents, to determine whether a company has an “economic moat” or a company has a long-term competitive advantage.

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