Grahame Exton of Tilney Investment Management Opening the Market to Ordinary Investors; as Tilney Investment Management Opens Its Doors to a Wider,less-Well-Heeled,clientele Louise Davies Talks to Top Fund Manager Grahame Exton

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Byline: Louise Davies

BEHIND the grandeur of the Royal Liver Building sits a fund management firm that has been looking after the wealth of the well-heeled for decades.

Tilney Investment Management boasts some of the top investment fund managers in the country, including Grahame Exton who was recently ranked as the top active managed fund manager in Britain in Citywire's Hot 100 Fund Managers 2003.

This month Tilney will be opening its doors to clientele of more modest means so they can use the successful formula that has helped people with six-figure portfolios to grow.

It will introduce to a wider audience an investment operation that until now has been virtually the exclusive domain of the well off.

It is not a case of ``lowering standards'', as Exton would explain, but making the services offered by Tilney available to more people.

In recent times the investment industry has become more aggressive in its quest to attract customers, using modern weapons such as internet investments and wall-to-wall advertising.

It has certainly made a broader brush of the population aware of the importance of carefully investing wealth to stock-pile an income stream for the future.

``Tilney's two growth portfolio funds are coming up for four years maturity in August. We have built up a good performance track record adding about pounds 10-15m to each of the fun ds and the growth portfolio is now worth in excess of pounds 31m. We felt it was time to open up the funds to more investors particularly the retail and IFA markets. The funds are very attractive to the investment public at large and we want to make people more aware of the opportunities and raise our profile,'' explains Exton.

Exton likes to know exactly what he's getting when he invests in a company and is only interested in those firms which have reliable and clear business models. He applies this investment strategy to the pounds 30m Tilney Growth Portfolio and the pounds 27.5m Income & Growth Portfolio.

He also controls pounds 40m in various institutional funds for the group.

``We are very focused on what we want to do. The two portfolios I manage offer a balanced exposure - we combine equity exposure which encourages long-term growth with fixed-interest exposure which can be very profitable. We also expose the funds internationally to the US, Europe and Asia so they are diversified. We aim to fulfil a range of needs for the sophisticated and unsophisticatedinvestor.''

Exton says the worst of the bear market is over and he expects an up tick in globalactivity,althoughhe says he has realistic expectations and doesn't see a bull market again for some time.

``I am not convinced the economic upturn will be strong but we maintain a balanced portfolio of assets and if a terrorist attack did shake up the market again our funds have sufficiently diversified exposure to offset that.''

Law-graduateExton insists he is an accidental fund manager who stumbled into the profession after a stint at an insurance company left him seeking more interesting pastures.

``I joined an insurance company after graduation and I found it very dull. An internal vacancy came up to move into investment and I thought I had nothing to lose. I had no knowledge but had a wide interest in current affairs and 2 2 years later I am still in the game.

``Every day is different and I don't know what to expect. …