Timeline: How has investing changed in the last 150 years?
The investment landscape has changed considerably in the last 150 years, and the F&C Investment Trust, which was founded in 1868, has adapted with it. Here’s a timeline of some of the big investment events along the way.
1862 The Companies Act, a forerunner of current companies legislation, made it possible to incorporate limited companies with shareholders.1
1891 Lord Eustace Cecil, then manager, said at F&C’s AGM that “the time has come when some additional field of investment equal or superior in character to many of the foreign stocks at present available would seem to be most desirable”.
1902 Investing became more mainstream – in 1902 1.5% of the UK population held railway stock.3
1910 By 1910, interest in investment had grown so much that there were 19 stock exchanges in the UK and Ireland where investors could buy shares.4
1914-18 During the First World War, patriotic investors bought war savings certificates to fund the war effort. In 1916 F&C Investment Trust had its articles of association amended to allow it to buy substantial amounts of war savings and by 1918 the trust’s single largest investment was the 5pc War Loan in 1929-47.
1925 F&C Investment Trust began to switch its investment strategy from bonds to equities. Its first recorded purchase of an ordinary share was Shell Transport & Reading in 1925. Ninety years later, this company is still in the portfolio as Royal Dutch Sell. Other early equity investments included Peninsular & Oriental and Liebig’s Extract of Meat, followed by Debenhams, ICI, and General Electric.
1929 The Wall Street crash affected the UK stock market and investments around the world. US equities fell by more than 80pc, while UK equities fell by more than 40pc.5
1932 The Association of Investment Companies, which counts F&C among its members, was set up.
1934 The UK stock market returned to pre-crash levels
1936 As confidence returned to the market, more companies list on the stock exchange. In 1936 there were 209 initial public offerings worth £97.7m compared with 287 worth £96.7m in 1928 and 1929.
1976 Apple Computer was founded. During the 1970s, F&C’s portfolio began to reflect the rise of the technology sector. Today, major holdings include Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Apple.
1979 The election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister heralded an era of privatisation and growing numbers of small investors.
1981 Smash-hit Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats opens in London. F&C Investment Trust invested in the Lloyd Webber musicals Cats and Starlight Express. Cats is one of the trust’s most successful investments, and it still receives royalties more than 30 years later.
1984 The FTSE 100 Index was founded and F&C launched a regular investment scheme, known as a private investors plan, allowing investors to commit as little as £25 a month.
1995-96 F&C Investment Trust was briefly a member of the FTSE 100 index.
2018 F&C Investment Trust celebrates its 150th anniversary.
As always please remember that investments carry risk and you may not get back what you originally invested.
2The Economist, 4 June 1888, 847. In fact, the company with the largest number of shareholders in 1900 was a quasi-political foundation established by the Second Zionist Congress in Basel in 1898. The Rise of the Small Investor in the US and the UK, 1895 to 1970, Janette Rutterford
3Michie, Ranald. The London and New York Stock Exchanges. London: Allen & Unwin, 1987.
4Michie, Ranald. The London and New York Stock Exchanges. London: Allen & Unwin, 1987.
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