AITC changes tack to attract members

The board of the Association of Investment Trust Companies has approved the inclusion of Alternative Investment Market-listed companies into its member- ship for the first time. In a move designed to boost member numbers, venture capital trusts and offshore funds are also to be more proactively targeted by the AITC as prospective new members.

Daniel Godfrey, the AITC’s director general, told the trade body’s annual conference for directors last week that it has had to recognise a changing market. In addition to 842 investment trusts there are VCTs, offshore funds and suitable Aim-listed companies that are widely seen as part of the same collective market.

As a result of this, he announced that from October the AITC will be rebranded, with the likely new name being the Association of Investment Companies (AIC).

The qualification criteria for the association will not change, however. To qualify for membership, the main business of the company involved should be the collective management of a diversified portfolio of assets, and its ordinary shares should be listed on a recognised stock exchange, which the AITC accepts as having similar standards of governance. It must also be closed-ended.

In addition to changing its brand, the AITC has altered its membership fee structure. Before March 31, all AITC members were charged one basis point of shareholder funds, which was subject to a maximum subscription of 85,000. For onshore members, this cap has now gone down to 50,000, while for offshore members it has fallen further, to 25,000. However, the minimum subscription for both onshore and offshore members has risen from 1,500 to 2,000.

Godfrey says: “We want to bring the UK cap down to the level of the offshore funds, but the speed with which this can be done depends on membership recruitment, market growth and industry expansion over time.”

The AITC’s revenue from fees stands at 3.8m. Godfrey says his calculations indicate that if the new fee formula is successful in attracting 30% of non-members into the association, the same level of revenues can be sustained.