Mike Currie begins by saying that “backing British business has never been more important” in the context of discussing Foresight Group’s generalist VCT, which maintains a technology bias. In his opinion, the quality of opportunities and providers in UK venture capital has never been better. On its new Williams Technology EIS he talks about collaborating with a world class operation and major brand like Williams, and leveraging the UK’s strength in mechanical engineering.
Will Fraser-Allen from Albion Capital discusses its Top Up Offers and their dual positioning as a long-term savings product and investment into growth businesses, true to the spirit of venture capital. He talks about the diversity of their broad portfolio and the gradual move towards tech and businesses services, as opposed to any pivot. He argues Albion’s experience is invaluable in backing the right companies, particularly given 2017/18’s forecast record VCT fundraise.
Laurence Callcut from Downing talks about increased choice in the VCT market and expands on its offering from a cutting-edge healthcare VCT to its Downing ONE VCT, still containing investments dating from 1997. He goes on to discuss EIS, and the ‘direction of travel’ towards tech and innovation, as well as the structures he’d like to see to increase follow-on funding.
Kealan Doyle explains Symvan’s California-style approach to venture capital, saying that Europe is behind the curve but things are changing. In a conversation grounded in the venture capital industry’s shift during the last five years from an asset-backed to growth focus, he talks about Symvan Capital’s life-cycle approach from seed to later-stage funding rounds, why it focuses on B2B tech, its progressive fee structure and the “inventive streak” in the UK.
Gordon Pugh discusses Blackfinch Investments’ Asset Focused EIS and Media EIS Portfolios, including how construction still offers a route to asset-backing and the interesting new area of offshore supply vessels. He talks about the diligence of Blackfinch’s approach to receiving Advanced Assurance from HMRC, sometimes receiving this as quickly as a fortnight, and why ‘capital preservation’ is a misnomer: all investments seek to balance a risk return profile.
Louise Farley expands on Deepbridge Capital’s position as a ‘business builder’, underscored by its management team’s background, and how that translates into its investment strategy. Also touched on are demystifying ‘life sciences’ for advisers and their clients, and increased interest in investee businesses as the public focus shifts from tax reliefs to growth and innovation. She talks about increasing diversity in the industry – from business angels to company founders – and a collaborative effort to back British business.
James Faulkner uses Oxford Capital’s high-tech and high-growth focus as a jumping-off point for how increasing asset values have driven demand for EIS. On deal flow, he doesn’t believe there’s a lack of quality deals in the market, but sourcing the best of the best is still key. In a changing landscape, adviser education is important, and consequently so is manager clarity on strategy, investment process and when tax reliefs will kick in.
Nick discusses the underlying assets of their Inheritance Tax Service, including their investment into renewable energy schemes such as solar power, wind power and anaerobic digestion. Their other main investments include financing the roll out of smart electricity meters and schools and hospitals built and financed under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) and acquired in the secondary market. He then goes on to discuss what makes Government focused initiatives suitable for estate planning and Foresight’s position in the BPR market. He also gives some insight into the fee levels in BPR and Foresight’s aim to provide investors with predictable, low volatility investments, using 3 key assessment criteria.
John gives an insight into the impact of the recent EIS and VCT rule changes, as well as some thoughts about what may come in the future. He talks about how the biggest impact of these (mainly EU required) changes was on those looking to management buy-outs as their exit strategy. He predicts that BREXIT will not greatly affect the regulatory environment for the next year or so while Government agencies such as HMRC are focusing on clarifying the current interpretations of the rules. As a result, possible changes will have to wait until later.
Henny Dovland explains TIME Investments new smart passive product as well as how AIM has matured to allow such an approach. The strategy is built around the more mature, less volatile, larger AIM listed companies that qualify for BPR. She also points-out how the smart passive product can be cost effective in comparison to the active manager approach traditionally used with AIM.