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Charles Plowden: the Baillie Gifford recipe for success

Charles Plowden tells Mary McDougall which companies should position Baillie Gifford for further success
Charles Plowden: the Baillie Gifford recipe for success
  • Baillie Gifford has delivered some tremendous returns across a wide range of funds over a long period of time 
  • The man at the heart of it all has been Charles Plowden, joint senior partner and chief of Baillie Gifford’s investment staff from 2006 to 2021

When Charles Plowden joined Baillie Gifford in 1983, fresh out of Oxford, he arrived at what he calls a “quaint, Dickensian” outfit, where he was issued with a slide rule and referred to the partners as “mister”. The company had fewer than 40 employees, occupying a small wood-panelled office in Edinburgh’s New Town.

However, the firm’s reputation was well established even then. He chose Baillie Gifford because he was told that it was “the best possible training for investment analysis in the UK”. Whoever said this appears to have been vindicated, as the company has grown to become one of the UK’s most successful large asset managers and the only major fund house to have retained its partnership structure. Decades ago many investment firms were partnerships, but most have either undertaken a public listing or been taken over.  

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