Dolphin Trust: November 2017 Due Diligence Trip

As your Financial Planning Firm, there is an expectation placed on us by you, our clients, that we have researched and investigated all products or funds that we recommend. This makes sense. We are not tied to any particular provider, which means we have to perform our own due diligence exercises to ensure that the quality of the investment solutions we offer are to the highest possible standard.

This consideration is more important with certain asset classes, such a property. While Global Equities and Fixed Income Securities (which form a core part of our proposition) are quite easily analysed (and where we can leverage the expertise of well known third party firms), assessing the quality of a Property Investment requires much greater investigation.

We have been advising clients to invest in Dolphin Trust for approximately 5 years now and have been satisfied with their approach to investors, consistency of performance and level of communication & transparency. Many clients have successfully exited their investment term and reinvested, appreciating the excellent returns on offer as part of a diversified portfolio.

On my last trip to Germany I took the opportunity to present my findings and opinions in real-time through video blogs. These short videos follow and I welcome you to play them in your own time and revert with any feedback you might have.

Part One: Who are Dolphin? – A Reminder

This section, from their office, presents the current status of Dolphin Trust – number of projects, scale of investment etc. I also address the source of funding and where you, as Irish ‘retail’ investors, fit in.

 

Part 2: Why Are Returns so High?

The first question any sensible investor asks when presented with an opportunity that offers double digit annual returns is, how? Skepticism (which we belatedly learned in Ireland in the last decade) when something looks too good to be true is a trait that should serve us all well. However, that shouldn’t mean that we avoid excellent returns when they present themselves in a risk appropriate manner.

 

Part 3: What is the Dolphin Trust Model?

Sitting in the offices of Dolphin is all well and good, but to really trust their proposition I need to see actual projects on your behalf. One very interesting note we took away this trip is that Dolphin can now provide individual investors with details of the specific project their money is being used for. We will be happy to provide you with this information on request.

 

Part 4: Why Do Dolphin Need Irish Investors?

In Part 2 I discussed why Dolphin pay investors the rates on offer. Here I answer another often-asked question – why don’t they do it themselves?

 

Summary:

I came away from my most recent visit with the reassurance I was looking for. It is clear that Dolphin Trust are a large, well established, legitimate player in the German property market. The scale of their investment strategy is impressive from an Irish perspective, but by no means excessive in the context of Germany.

I gathered many more useful pieces of information on the trip – clarification on how the S.P.V (Special Purpose Vehicle) for each project is created, where independent oversight is provided through the planning process, how the purchase by German buyers is managed (in a 7-stage payment plan, if you can imagine that) and the expectations that Dolphin Trust themselves have for the future, including worries, at a social & environmental level, about the increase in Russian & Asian H.N.W buyers who have moved on from London and may start driving up prices beyond the affordability of residents.

We will continue to recommend Dolphin Trust as part of a client portfolio, where appropriate on a risk/return basis. We look forward to hearing from you with any questions or comments you might have.

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