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Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust
Industry Investment management
Founded 1909
Headquarters Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Key people

James Anderson, Joint Manager

Tom Slater, Joint Manager
Parent Baillie Gifford & Co Limited

Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust (LSE: SMT) is a publicly traded investment trust listed on the London Stock Exchange. It invests globally, looking for strong businesses with above-average returns. Scottish Mortgage is managed by Baillie Gifford & Co Limited, the Edinburgh-based investment management partnership.


  • History 1
  • Dividends 2
  • Present day 3
  • Time Line 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The origins of Scottish Mortgage lie in a credit crisis, the Panic of 1907. By 1909 the growing popularity of the motorcar, including the Model T Ford, was creating significant demand for tyres, which rubber planters in Southeast Asia were keen to exploit, but credit was still difficult to obtain. In Edinburgh, the recently formed legal partnership between Colonel Augustus Baillie and Carlyle Gifford (which ultimately became Baillie Gifford & Co) spotted an opportunity. They established The Straits Mortgage and Trust Company Limited.[1] to lend money to the planters, secured on the rubber estates.

Within a couple of years, however, the credit crisis was over and rubber planters no longer required finance from Straits Mortgage on the scale anticipated.

In 1913, the Trust's investment remit was widened to include bond and equity markets worldwide, and its name changed to The Scottish Mortgage and Trust Company Limited.[2]

“By 1913 it was obvious the future of the trust lay in operating as a normal investment trust – that is to say, one which invested in a broad range of securities, very largely overseas, as was typical of Scottish investment trusts of the period, with a strong bias towards North America – rather than the Rubber plantation specialist that had originally been envisaged. In recognition of this, the Board decided to change its name to “The Scottish Mortgage and Trust Limited”; this change of name received official approval on 31 May 1913.”[3]

Early investments reflected the rapid global industrialisation that characterised the period, including shares in oil and railway companies and loans to the Argentine, Indian, Chinese and Imperial Ottoman governments.[4] These reflected Scottish Mortgage’s flexible, unconstrained investment policy which enabled managers to invest shareholders' money in whatever and wherever the manager believed to be the best available opportunities.

From early on, North American investments featured in Scottish Mortgage's portfolio, but these were augmented substantially in the mid-1930s with the proceeds of European investments sold[5] in reaction to the deteriorating political situation in Europe. By 1940, 22 per cent of the portfolio was invested in US names.[6] Soon after, however, the British government mandated the sale and repatriation of all American securities owned by British citizens, including those of Scottish Mortgage. The government's representative overseeing this formidable exercise was Carlyle Gifford. The proportion invested in the US fell to 6.6 per cent by 1942,[7] not to be rebuilt until the 1950s.[8] By 1957, in the midst of the post-War boom in equities, the chairman noted, "...we have over 44 per cent of our USA and Canada. Indeed, a higher proportion would have been even better".[9]

In the 1960s, the Trust was among the first to take advantage of the lifting of restrictions on foreigners investing in the burgeoning Japanese market; a sound investment decision, but a controversial one with wartime memories still fresh.[10] In later decades, investments in Southeast Asia sought to take advantage of that region's development.

The amount invested in the UK allocation has also varied. During the early 1970s, UK equities and bonds fell from 63 per cent in 1972[11] to nearly 45 per cent of the Trust two years later.[12] While some of this decline reflects steep relative falls in the UK stock market, it also reflects a deliberate move away from the UK. The exasperation of the chairman comes through in his 1975 statement: "The fact is that this country has got itself into a really dreadful mess... We continue to have more confidence in investment prospects overseas than in the UK".[13]


Over the entire history of Scottish Mortgage, it has cut its dividend only once, in 1933 - after the effects of the Depression ravaged its portfolio.[14] In every other year, it either maintained or increased its dividend, even during both World Wars. In 1942 the chairman wrote with masterly understatement of "some important adverse influences... Our revenue has suffered from the almost complete stoppage of dividends from the invaded areas".[7]

Present day

Scottish Mortgage celebrated its centenary year in 2009. As at 30 September 2015 the Trust had total net assets of approximately £3.0 billion. Investments continue to reflect the global-nature of the Trust with holdings in fast-growing economies such as China and Brazil.

Time Line

  • 1909 - Launch of Straits Mortgage & Trust Limited
  • 1913 - Name change to Scottish Mortgage & Trust Company Limited
  • 1914-18 - First World War
  • 1929 - Wall Street Crash
  • 1933 - Scottish Mortgage cuts dividend - the only time in its history
  • 1939-45 - Second World War
  • 1957 - Macmillan tells Britons they have "never had it so good" - reflects post-war economic and stock market boom
  • 1965 - Finance Act - major tax changes
  • 1969 - Scottish Mortgage merges with two other trusts: Second Scottish Mortgage & Scottish Capital
  • 1973-4 - Oil shock and stock market crash
  • 1975 - Start of a 25-year bull run in equities
  • 2000 - Long bull market ends with bursting of technology bubble
  • 2002 - Name change to Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC
  • 2003-7 - Market rally led by emerging markets and commodities
  • 2008 - Scottish Mortgage annual dividend per share reaches record high of 10.3 pence. Severe stock market falls as banking and credit crisis takes place
  • 2009 - Scottish Mortgage's 100th AGM held in June in Edinburgh.
  • 2010 - Tom Slater appointed Deputy Manager of Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust PLC


  1. ^ Burns, Page 6
  2. ^ Certificate of Name Change No. 7058, 28 May 1913
  3. ^ Burns, Page 12
  4. ^ National Archives - GD378/4/16 - Journal No.1 (1910-1926)
  5. ^ Burns, Page 42
  6. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1940
  7. ^ a b The Scottish Mortgage and Trust Company Limited, Chairman's Speech to the AGM, 21 May 1942
  8. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1957
  9. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1957, Chairman's Statement
  10. ^ Burns, Pages 89,90
  11. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1973, Chairman's Statement
  12. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1975
  13. ^ Scottish Mortgage Annual Report and Accounts 1975, Chairman's Statement
  14. ^ Burns, Page 32

Further reading

External links

  • Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Website
  • Baillie Gifford & Co Website
  • Trust Online - Investment trust news, expert analysis, videos, competitions, and more from Baillie Gifford
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