Daniel Godfrey is Co-Founder of The People’s Trust and former CEO of The Investment Association. He is a Non-Executive Director at Digital Moneybox, Big Issue Invest and The Investor Forum, and sits on the Advisory Board at the Ethical Capitalism Group.
What changes would you make to UK boardrooms to make them more effective?
I’d like boards to be able to spend more time reviewing the progress of strategy against plan. They need to be able to determine what’s on the road ahead, learn lessons where things haven’t gone to plan and support management in adapting tactics and - if necessary - objectives, in the light of an evolving environment.
I’d also like boards to spend more time reviewing their organisation’s culture and tackle questions like ‘is our culture consistent with the long-term goals we've agreed with management?’.
How important is information in the boardroom?
It’s a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for success.
Information on its own can’t make a good board. But without the right information, a board will never fulfil its potential, no matter how good the people are around the table.
You’re about to launch a new investment trust called The People’s Trust. What will set this apart from other funds in the market?
The People’s Trust has a number of differentiating factors. One of these is that the fund will adopt a seven-year total return objective and ignore index benchmarks, so we will be a really long-term investor in companies. Another is that we will pay part of our executives’ salaries in shares, acquired at market price, which will have to be held for at least seven years. We won’t be offering any other pay incentive schemes or bonuses, so executives will be as aligned to shareholders as possible.
Will the governance of The People’s Trust be different to the norm?
The main difference is that we’re setting up a shareholder committee to hold our board and management to account.
The committee will pose questions to the board on a regular basis and prepare a report for shareholders on how the board responded to any concerns. It will also likely have an informal role in remuneration and nomination matters.
Which companies or sectors would you back for the next decade?
I’m a great believer in backing companies that deliver inherent value for their customers. So I’d promote companies in the life sciences, AI and green technology sectors, and also those in agri-tech and affordable housing. But you can expect to see good old-fashioned businesses in the mix too!
How will the UK’s global influence change over the next decade?
I’m out of the predictions business! But if we can re-focus on long-term investment, we’ll get productivity growth and wealth creation. Then the UK’s global influence can only grow with superior GDP and corporate performance.
What book is on your bedside table?
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou. It’s an autobiography about the early years of her life which looks at racism and trauma, but also her incredible strength of character and sheer joy in overcoming both.
What is your golden rule?
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.