Personal Property Trust: September 2022 Update

  • We like the simple philosophy behind this trust, with the potential for long-term growth and a focus on preserving wealth in weaker markets.
  • Manager Sebastian Lyon is a co-owner of Troy, so we think he’s incentivized to play
  • He also has a good team of analysts around him to provide support on this confidence.

  • How it fits in a wallet

    Rather than trying to turn off the lights, Personal Assets Trust aims to grow investors’ money consistently over the long term, while limiting losses when markets fall. It tries to experience fewer ups and downs than the broader global stock market or a portfolio primarily invested in stocks.

    Therefore, it could form the basis of a broad investment portfolio, provide stability to a more adventurous portfolio, or offer long-term growth potential to a more conservative portfolio.


    Sebastian Lyon took over the management of Personal Assets Trust in March 2009. Since then he has managed the trust using the same investment philosophy that was founded when Troy Asset Management was established in 2000. He has also managed the Troy Trojan Fund since its launch in 2001 – it is an open-ended fund which is invested in the same way as Personal Assets Trust. However, even though the two are similar, sometimes they will work differently. Trust investors should be aware that closed-end funds may trade at a discount or premium to net asset value (NAV). Unlike many other trusts, the manager seeks to limit the size of the discount or premium to net asset value (NAV).

    Lyon is also Chief Investment Officer of Troy Asset Management. The position takes up some of his time, but he has previously handed over some of the day-to-day management responsibilities of the business to capable colleagues. This allows him to devote more of his time to investment management. Lyon also benefits from investment management support from Charlotte Yonge, who performs analysis across a range of assets, and overall we believe Troy is home to a stable investment team.


    Lyon likes simplicity. It aims as much to protect the assets of investors as to make them grow.

    To do this, trust is built around four “pillars”. The first brings together large, established companies, according to Lyon, able to grow sustainably in the long term and withstand difficult economic conditions. It has tended to focus on companies based in developed markets, such as the US and UK. This includes some of the world’s best known companies with highly recognizable brands, such as Microsoft, Alphabet, Visa and Nestlé. Although the trust has not had much exposure for several years, the manager has the freedom to invest in smaller, higher risk companies.

    Since April 2021, the amount of the trust invested in equities has fallen from 45.7% to 29.2%, with a focus on companies listed in the United States. Lyon reduced the overall amount invested in equities after strong performance in 2021 and the deterioration of the market environment in 2022. Regarding specific companies, it reduced investments in Alphabet and Microsoft, while it completely sold Medtronic.

    The rest of the trust is made up of investments that could provide some stability to the portfolio in tougher markets. The second pillar is made up of bonds. 37.7% of the trust is currently invested in bonds, with the majority held in indexed US Treasuries.

    The third pillar is made up of gold-related investments, including physical gold, and accounts for 11.3%. Gold often acts as a safe haven in times of uncertainty, and the manager has held gold in the trust since the introduction of the pillar approach in 2009. The final pillar is “liquidity”, where 21 .6% of the trust is held. This is made up of a combination of UK treasury bills and cash. This provides important shelter when the markets stumble, but also a chance to quickly invest in other assets when opportunities arise.

    Although the trust contains a diverse range of investments, it is concentrated. This approach means that each investment can contribute significantly to overall returns, but it can increase risk. The manager has the ability to use derivatives and cogs (borrow to invest) which, if used, increases risk.

    The trust proceeded with a stock split at the beginning of August. This means that each share of the trust has been split into 100. Although this decreases the value of each share, existing investors would have seen the number of shares increase by a multiple of 100, so the overall value of all investment was not affected. The split makes it easier to make small investments in the trust.


    We appreciate that the fund managers at Troy are dedicated to the same investment philosophy that was established two decades ago. The group has always been clear about the management of its range of funds and the managers do not venture into overly complicated areas of the investment markets. Heritage preservation is essential and every manager adheres to this mantra.

    Lyon is co-owner of Troy Asset Management, so we believe he has an incentive to perform well, and that his funds and the business do well over the long term. Other senior members of the group also own part of the business, and we believe this contributes to the stability and loyalty of the team. While Troy is home to a small team of tight-knit investors, the group has recruited more junior members over the years to augment resources and ensure funds are left in safe hands as more members grow. older people are retiring. Despite the team’s growth, we believe Troy has remained a very collegial unit with all members able to contribute.

    ESG integration

    All Troy funds are managed with a medium to long term investment horizon, with an emphasis on capital preservation. Thus, assessing whether the company will support the business model over the long term and whether management will act as good stewards of shareholder capital is an important part of the investment process.

    Although Troy’s team is relatively small, it has increased its resources specifically to help improve its analysis of companies’ ESG benchmarks. That said, there is no specific ESG or sustainability team at Troy and it is up to fund managers to consider ESG factors as part of their corporate analysis.

    Overall, it is clear that ESG factors are taken into account at the level of business analysis within the Trust, but they are considered more from a risk perspective and are not considered a important driver of investment decisions.


    The ongoing charge of the trust for the year to April 30, 2022 was 0.67%. Investors should refer to the latest annual reports and accounts and key investor information for further details on risks and pricing structure.

    If held in a SIPP or ISA, the HL platform fee of 0.45% (capped at £200 for a SIPP and £45 for an ISA) per annum also applies.


    Since Lyon took over management of the trust in 2009, it has grown by 161.3%*, which we believe is an attractive return for a more conservative trust, and well above the inflation index for UK retail price. Remember that past performance is not indicative of future returns.

    The trust has not done as well as the wider UK stock market, as measured by the FTSE All Share Index, which the trust uses as its main comparator. We expect trust to work that way, however. Even with the market pullback in 2020, global equity markets have risen sharply over the past decade, and the trust’s more cautious approach means it has been less able to keep up with rapidly growing markets.

    Avoiding big losses has been an important feature of confidence and it has tended to hold up and hold up well in weaker markets. We saw it in early 2020 when global markets stumbled amid the coronavirus outbreak. We have also seen this so far in 2022, with trust performing better than global equities and bonds. Remember though that the value of the trust will go up and down, so you might get back less than you invest.

    Annual percentage growth
    August 17 – August 18 August 18 – August 19 August 19 – August 20 August 20 – August 21 August 21 – August 22

    Personal Assets Trust PLC
    -1.33% 8.60% 7.20% 10.25% 0.83%

    FTSE All Share
    4.68% 0.44% -12.65% 26.95% 1.01%

    UK retail price index
    3.46% 2.64% 0.55% 4.81% 12.30%

    Past performance is not indicative of the future. Source: *Lipper IM as of 08/31/2022.