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Geoff Wilson: Life, LICs, franking credits and how Wilson Asset Management (WAM) was built

Geoff Wilson is the Chairman, Chief Investment Officer and founder of Wilson Asset Management (WAM), a company that manages 8 Listed Investment Companies (LICs) and manages around $5 billion in shareholder capital on behalf of over 130,000 investors. Geoff Wilson recently sat down with Owen Rask on The Australian Investors Podcast to talk about his life, LICs and the debate on franking credits.

About Wilson Asset Management 

In addition to running traditional ASX-listed LICs for investors, paying out consistent dividends and reporting growth over many years, Geoff Wilson and Wilson Asset Management have partnered with fund managers and charities to create the Future Generation companies, allowing fund managers to work for free on behalf of investors, while also donating tens of millions of dollars to support charities.

Geoff Wilson’s bio

Geoff Wilson has over 42 years’ direct experience in investment markets having held a variety of senior investment roles in Australia, the UK and the US. Geoff founded Wilson Asset Management in 1997 and created Australia’s first listed philanthropic wealth creation vehicles, Future Generation Investment Company Limited and Future Generation Global Investment Company Limited. Geoff holds a Bachelor of Science, a Graduate Management Qualification and is a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australia and the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Geoff Wilson is currently Chairman of WAM Capital Limited, WAM Leaders Limited, WAM Global Limited, WAM Microcap Limited, WAM Research Limited, WAM Active Limited and WAM Strategic Value Limited. He is the founder and a Director of Future Generation Investment Company Limited and Future Generation Global Investment Company Limited and a Director of WAM Alternative Assets Limited.

Questions covered in the investors podcast with Geoff Wilson

Ice breakers (30-60 second answers): 

  • Who is the investor who taught you the most?
  • What’s been your best investment (financial or otherwise)?
  • What is the hardest lesson you have learned in investing?

Geoff’s background & Wilson

Geoff, I’m not familiar with the origin story of WAM. Can you take us through the early days and the opportunity you saw?

Why was/is a listed investment company a better alternative to a managed fund?

LIC structure 

Over the past 15 years, we’ve seen an explosion in ETFs. How do you compare or juxtapose the pros and cons of the ETF structure versus LICs? (follow up: is it better suited for some investors or markets/strategies, and not for others?)

Can you talk us through the launch of the Future Generation products? I remember when these first launched and I thought it was a great initiative. Why did you do this and how did you structure them for enduring success?

Philosophical

How do you think about building intergenerational wealth, not just for you but even for the family of your shareholders? Are there things you practice or put in place?

How do you think about training the next generation of leaders at Wilson? Are there structured pathways for staff or is it a culture of organic growth?

Franking credits have been a contentious topic for over 5 years now. What is the Government tabling now and what is your response?

Potential follow-up: If I had a $100 return from the stock market (over the ultra-long term) how many dollars come from capital gains, cash dividends and franking credits? (i.e. how important are dividends)

Final question

What’s something you believe about life, investing or business that few people would agree with you on?

Key time stamps in the Geoff Wilson interview

@3:30: Geoff Wilson’s best-ever investment

@37:00 – Geoff Wilson’s view on franking credits

@1:01:00 – Geoff Wilson’s #1 belief about life & investing

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