So – How ‘Good’ Are You?

Neil Woodford, Invesco Perpetual

Neil Woodford of Invesco Perpetual
Photo: Shaun Curry

If you’re not in the world of fund management, you’ve probably never heard of him. Yet, he has been described as “one of the best … fund managers in the UK market today” by Citywire and was recently awarded Best Fund Manager by What Investments. He has also been referred to as “probably the UK’s most influential fund manager” by This is Money.co.uk.

His name is Neil Woodford and he is a fund manager at Invesco Perpetual. Look for him on the website and in spite of the accolades, that’s all you find. But when he comments, as he did when Ed Milliband promised to freeze gas prices for two  years at the Labour Conference, people listen.

What makes him powerful is the value of the stock he holds in major corporations, plus the respect he has from his history of success. It is thought that he has been behind many high profile PLC resignations while in the last ten years, when the average UK Equity Income fund has risen by 129 per cent, Woodford’s major funds have rocketed by 210 per cent. As a key indicator of the power he holds, FTSE 100 bosses travel to Henley-on-Thames rather than he having to visit them.

His secret is that unlike many City investors that switch in and out of funds for a quick profit; he takes the long view and will keep holdings for a long time with an average of around fifteen years.

This clear philosophy combines with a view that with ownership and power comes responsibility. He has described his job as representing the people who have trusted him with their money.¹

The important leadership characteristic here is that clear and externally worthwhile personal values, plus a bit of success, deliver influence. And importantly, this illustrates that charities don’t have a monopoly on ‘doing good’. Simply making money is difficult to value in its own right. Doing good is far more motivating:

So what ‘good’ do you and your organisation, department or team do, and for whom?

It seems that if you are clear enough about your values and motivations, and use them transparently for the good of others, people are much more likely to follow you.

¹The Guardian 13 October 2012

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