Baillie Gifford’s Charles Plowden on 110 years of investing

“It is our contention that the investment industry may be experiencing a peak of its own, in this case the point of the maximum rate at which it extracts value from its clients’ assets. Let’s call it Peak Gravy.” That’s a recent quote from Tom Coutts, who is one of a few dozen partners at Baillie Gifford (See Arman Tabatabai’s profile here). It’s also typical of the provocative sentiments offered by this band of fund managers who are based in Edinburgh, but scour the world looking for opportunities.

In an effort to distinguish its world view, the firm has introduced the somewhat eyebrow-raising tagline, “We’re actual investors.” For many US technology observers, though, Baillie Gifford is known for its investments in unicorns. But as Extra Crunch’s executive editor Danny Crichton and I found out in a recent conversation with Charles Plowden (one of two senior partners and the overseer of the firm’s investment departments), there’s a lot more to the story and motivations behind this unique 110-year-old partnership that’s still going strong.