Sanford Deland plans global Buffettology fund

Sales have been strong in Keith Ashworth-Lord’s existing fund

Sanford Deland is in talks to launch a global version of its Buffettology fund – one of the few UK equity funds to deliver positive performance in 2018.

Fund manager Keith Ashworth-Lord described the planned global equities fund as the “twinkle in my eye”, in an interview with Portfolio Adviser. The planned fund would be marketed beyond the UK and is likely to grow larger than the existing fund, which account for the bulk of SDL’s assets under management, he said.

The Buffettology fund crossed into £1bn worth of assets this year with the UK equities fund enjoying inflows in sharp contrast to rivals, which have collectively seen outflows in the year to date.

In March, SDL appointed its first chief executive, Alex Brotherston, who had been head of UK retail sales at Franklin Templeton Investments. Brotherston was brought on to focus on administration, finance and strategy.

SDL UK Buffettology performance (%)

SDL UK Buffettology12.929.7264.02104.41
IA UK All Companies9.58-4.7524.2729.35
Source: FE Analytics

Buffettology licencing

SDL is currently in talks regarding licencing of the Buffettology brand for more funds, Ashworth-Lord said. The launch would take place within the next 12 months and would become the third strategy in the SDL stable alongside the flagship fund and SDL Free Spirit.

Warren Buffett’s former daughter-in-law Mary Buffett owns the Buffettology trademark alongside David Clarke, an early shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway.

The existing licence on the Investment Association UK All Companies fund expires in January 2021. “Subject to getting the right commercial terms, we’ll extend the licence and we’ll use it to brand the Global Buffettology fund,” Ashworth-Lord said.

There will be no difference in investment philosophy between the UK and  global funds, he said. “Business perspective investing doesn’t respect borders; you can use it to invest in US companies, European companies. The only issue is what are the accounting standards in X, Y, Z country.”

Free Spirit fund changes

The SDL Free Spirit fund was likely to retain its existing branding. Rosemary Banyard is in the process of handing over the fund she has managed for almost three years as she leaves SDL due to personal reasons.

It has delivered top-quartile performance but is only £13m in size. Ashworth-Keith says the fund will focus on opportunities lower down the market-cap spectrum that the Buffettology fund has become too large to invest in.

He said: “I wondered if we should rebrand it Junior Buffettology, but that’s not the intention at the moment. Free Spirit is a great name for an unconstrained fund because it implies you can go anywhere and do anything,” he said.

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