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BLOG: What investors can learn from Wales’ mighty Euro 2016 performance

Written by: Stuart Lewis
The small nation of Wales accomplished a huge feat at Euro 2016 by reaching the semi-finals. Stuart Lewis of Octopus Investments reveals what investors can take away from the Welsh success story.

Big doesn’t always mean better. Just look at how Wales and Iceland, comparatively tiny nations among the big beasts of European football, performed at Euro 2016. Whatever your allegiances, nobody watching Wales reach the semi-finals of the competition could fail to be impressed.

The achievement serves as a great reminder to us all that size can be deceptive – small can be mighty! And this is something investors should remember when considering the growth potential of smaller companies.

While there are risks associated with investing in smaller companies, it could be an attractive option if you’re looking to diversify your investments. Plus, if any of those companies perform as well as Wales did in France, just think of the potential for good returns.

As long as investors are comfortable placing their capital at risk in this asset class, one way of accessing the growth potential of the UK’s exciting smaller companies is to invest in a Venture Capital Trust (VCT). A VCT offers investors exposure to a portfolio of early stage companies, each of which has been carefully selected for their potential to grow and deliver returns for investors.

Much of the success of a VCT comes down to the way it is managed. Just as Wales’ achievements are the result of picking a talented team and great coaching, good VCT managers will carefully select and nurture the companies in their portfolio and know how to get the best out of them.

A financial adviser will be able to offer guidance as to the suitability, performance and management of different VCTs. So it pays to do your research on the best VCTs – after all, not everyone can do what Chris Coleman has done for Wales.

I’m sure Chris enjoyed watching his young Welsh team grow during Euro 2016. It’s the same for VCT managers – there’s nothing more rewarding than seeing how those early-stage companies blossom. And for every Bale, Ramsey and Williams, VCTs have their own standout performers too.

Look at Zoopla Property Group, which became a billion-pound business when it listed on the main market of London Stock Exchange. Or the brilliance of Tom Valentine and Alex Saint who founded UK travel company Secret Escapes. And don’t forget SwiftKey – the company behind the app for faster, easier typing on mobile phones and tablets – which was acquired by Microsoft earlier this year.

These are all shining examples of household names that started off small but have flourished with the benefit of VCT investment, delivering great returns for investors along the way.

Looking ahead, Wales’ manager will be hungry for more success and looking to identify new upcoming stars ahead of the World Cup in two years’ time. Equally, VCT managers are always working with new entrepreneurs and exciting young businesses that may become the stellar brands of tomorrow. That’s good news for the companies that VCTs support, and it could be good news for investors too.

Stuart Lewis is business line manager for Venture Capital Trusts at Octopus Investments

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