Star fund manager Neil Woodford thinks other fund managers have let down British industry by not taking enough risks

Neil Woodfordpaarliament.tvWoodford speaking to the House of Lords’ Science and Technology Committee

LONDON — One of Britain’s most prominent fund managers, Neil Woodford, believes that his counterparts¬†have let down British industry by being risk-averse and impatient, and failing to invest in early-stage businesses.

Woodford, the founding partner of Woodford Investment Management and one of Britain’s leading fund managers,¬†told the House of Lords’ science and technology committee on Tuesday: “We are too risk-averse as an asset management industry, and we’ve spent the last 30 years becoming more risk-averse.”

He added: “My industry thinks what I do — investing in early stage, illiquid businesses that require patience and engagement — is a very extreme minority sport. Very few do it.”

Woodford described himself as the biggest private sector investor in early-stage British science firms.

He said that Britain was “arguably the most productive nation in the world at translating money into great scientific output,” but added: “What we’re absolutely rubbish at is translating that into scaled commercial success.”

He said: “The bit that is missing is the scale-up capital. The responsibility for that glaring failure is the failure of my own industry, the fund management industry, the capital allocation industry, to embrace the long-term, patient capital approach.”

He said the pension fund industry had less than 8% of its capital allocation in UK industry, compared to more than 40% a decade ago.

Woodford suggested that the government should encourage investors to hold shares for seven or ten-year minimums to incentivise investment from savers into “early-stage, disruptive, scalable” science firms in the UK.

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