Spotlight on: Martin Gilbert, Aberdeen Asset Management

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The Independent Online

Stock markets aren't much good, so I assume that fund management companies aren't up to much either.

Mostly, but Aberdeen Asset Management is on a roll. For the year to September revenue came in 11 per cent higher at £869m, with profits nearly £46m up at £347.8m. Don't get too obsessed by markets though; even the Aberdeen boss says he has no idea where stock markets are going.

What? Isn't it his job to at least pretend to know?

Martin Gilbert says not, and since he's been running Aberdeen for getting on for 30 years, he may know what he is talking about.

He reckons that individual stock picking rather than macro judgments are the key to success.

"I always say I really haven't a clue what markets are going to do," he says. "But I do know that Standard Chartered or HSBC might do well. There is such disparity within markets."

Are clients comfortable with this?

Investors in the funds and the shares have every reason to be happy. Normally the rule of thumb though is that you'd do better to buy the stock rather than the funds, and that seems true again. Aberdeen stock has trebled since 2009.

Mr Gilbert said: "We've done a great job for our clients over five, 10 and 15 years. The performance numbers are fantastic.

"If you do a good job for your clients you can't stop doing a good job for yourselves."

There's no sense that he just got lucky?

Some luck has been involved. The high exposure to the Far East markets is not entirely good management, Mr Gilbert admits.

Is this man scandal free?

No. See the split-capital investment trust disaster for details of how he came a cropper and, by his own admission, the company was almost killed.