Business history and summary
Aberforth was established in 1990 and remains wholly owned by partners working at the firm. Since then, its purpose is unchanged and is encapsulated by the accompanying diagram. Specifically, the purpose is to deliver superior, long-term investment returns for its clients and, by extension, for the ultimate beneficiaries of its clients’ portfolios. Aberforth was designed by its founders to be a simple business in the belief that this would improve the investment outcomes for its clients.
Three central aspects of the firm – partnership, a focus on small UK quoted companies and a value investment philosophy – support the pursuit of this purpose.
Small UK quoted companies
Aberforth has remained focused on one asset class and, aided by a self-imposed cap on its assets under management, avoids the complexity and proliferation of strategies that are associated with the asset-gathering model pursued by much of the fund management industry. Aberforth believes that its chosen asset class – small UK quoted companies – is relatively inefficient and, through fundamental analysis, lends itself to the active management of a diversified portfolio of stocks. Aberforth’s investment universe is the Numis Smaller Companies Index (excluding investment companies) [NSCI (XIC)], which is the bottom ten percent of the main UK equity market by market capitalisation.
Portfolios are long-only and are actively managed by a team, which conducts its own fundamental analysis and adheres to the value investing style. Aberforth’s commitment to value investment and its focus on small UK quoted companies have remained consistent since inception, as has its belief that the partnership structure best serves to align the interests of the firm with its clients. Throughout its life, the firm has been comfortable operating within the capacity constraints imposed by its chosen asset class and has avoided a proliferation of product, seeking to deliver a high level of resources and service to the institutional and professional market.
Aberforth’s emphasis on the collegiate effort is also inherent in the investment process, which is described in detail within our Investment Philosophy which can be found here. This document also includes further information regarding the incorporation of ESG considerations within the investment process. Investment decisions about which companies merit a place in clients’ portfolios and at what weight are taken collectively when the fund managers gather to discuss and debate investment ideas. The management of a client portfolio is not assigned to one individual but is undertaken by the team.
The target client base is institutional or wholesale investors that have chosen to give their clients exposure to small UK quoted companies.
Aberforth’s success in remaining true to its value investment philosophy and in keeping its business simple has been facilitated by the ownership structure: it is a limited partnership, wholly owned by six partners who all work full-time in the firm. The interests of Aberforth and its clients are reinforced by the partners each investing a significant portion of their personal savings in the collective funds managed by the firm. The partners’ intention is to ensure the perpetuation of the partnership through transition to the next generations. The partners see themselves as guardians of a business at the centre of which are its clients: investment expertise, exceptional service and integrity combine to nurture strong client relationships and thus extend the longevity of the business beyond the tenure of any individual.
Aberforth Partners LLP is wholly owned by the following partners:
Samuel G Ford, Jeremy GA Hall, Euan R Macdonald, Peter R Shaw, Scott L Wallace and Christopher N Watt.
Aberforth manages two investment trusts, one unit trust and segregated mandates. Aberforth Smaller Companies Trust plc (investment trust) and Aberforth UK Small Companies Fund (unit trust) have virtually identical diversified portfolios, normally comprising more than 80 investments. Aberforth Split Level Income Trust plc (split-capital investment trust) has a similarly diversified portfolio, normally comprising more than 60 investments, but with a higher average yield than the other funds' portfolios.
At 30 November 2023, funds under management totalled approximately £1.8 billion.
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