People and Business: Godfrey scores at trusts association

THE LEADERSHIP crisis at the Association of Investment Trust Companies (AITC) has been resolved with the appointment of Daniel Godfrey, a 36-year-old Arsenal fanatic from Fleming Investment Trust Management, as the AITC's director general.

This follows the shock departure of Michael Hart after just two months in the director general's hot seat. Mr Hart, a former boss of Foreign & Colonial investment trusts, resigned after F&C clashed with shareholders over corporate governance at one of its trusts, the Brazilian Smaller Companies Investment Trust.

Mr Godfrey has his work cut out at the AITC, which one City critic described yesterday as "in need of a shake-up". The AITC has an old-fashioned board which is seen as an obstacle to modernisation. Far more investors' money has been flowing into unit trusts than investment trusts recently, not surprising perhaps given the ever-widening discounts to net asset value seen in the share price of many leading investment trusts.

The good news is that Mr Godfrey is keen to bring the AITC up to date: "I want to create an environment where investment trusts can create exceptional returns, and where shareholders can enjoy those returns," says the Flemings man.

Mr Godfrey's arrival means that David Harris, the trusty deputy at the AITC who held the fort while the head-hunters did their work, didn't get the top job.

Meanwhile at Flemings, young Godfrey has been replaced by Simon Crinage, product development director for investment trusts. Patrick Gifford, chairman of Fleming Investment Trust Management, commented: "Whilst we are very sorry to see Daniel go, it had gradually become apparent that he was going to run out of headroom in his current role with us." Let's hope there are plenty of high ceilings at the AITC's City offices in Chiswell Street.

UNIGATE, THE dairy group, has set up an exercise bike in the lobby of its west London head office. Sir Ross Buckland, Unigate's smooth Australian chief executive, is taking part in a simulated Lands End to John O'Groats sponsored cycle ride, in which employees pedal away for the equivalent of the length of the British Isles.

Given that the exercise bike provided for this task is in such a public area, Sir Ross has chosen to don his Lycra shorts and do his bit "at some ungodly hour", according to a colleague, so that underlings don't see him sweating profusely.

At least he's digging deep to help the cause. The company hopes to raise pounds 5,000 for the Save the Children Fund, and the benevolent Sir Ross has pledged to double whatever is raised, from his own fat wallet.

A DENTIST who "developed a phobia of dentistry" and retired from his work was refused a payout by his insurance company, prompting him to complain to the Personal Investment Authority's ombudsman.

The insurance company refused his claim saying that "it did not consider a phobia to be a recognised medical complaint".

Perusing the annual report from the Personal Investment Authority (PIA), as one does, I noticed the reference to the dentist's disputed claim on a Permanent Health Insurance (PHI) policy.

The dentist had taken the advice of two psychiatrists and his GP, and had taken early retirement. He was receiving a substantial NHS pension.

The complainant underwent two independent psychiatric assessments, "both of which confirmed that he was totally unable to follow his occupation as a dentist, and that he was a danger to himself and his patients".

Happily for the dentist, the ombudsman over-ruled the company, opening up a whole range of possibilities for work-related phobia claims. Aargh, there's a desk...

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