South Africa: Allan Gray - Death of a Gentleman

opinion

The founder of South Africa's biggest asset manager, Allan WB Gray, died of a heart attack on his island home of Bermuda on Sunday morning. He was 81.

In a world that often feels dominated by venal, power-hungry and self-centred people, it is telling that a man who dies quietly on a Caribbean Island half a world away will leave behind a legacy that will live on for generations -- and it's not necessarily just in the institutions that bear his name.

Allan Gray was an intensely private -- but not shy -- man; one who shunned interviews, high-profile events and obvious displays of wealth. In the late 1970s and early 80s, just as his business, Allan Gray Investment Counsel, was growing in Cape Town, he was dubbed the "ghost of Cape Town", for this reason.

His focus was his clients and his clients alone. Initially, the business focused on providing investment advice to retail investors, with the execution completed by a third party of the client's choice. Later the business grew to provide the full spectrum of services to retail and institutional investors.

He was not at all interested in building a "brand", only allowing his partners to market...

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