Investment manager

Scotsman obituaries: Sir Raymond Johnstone CBE, Investment Manager

Confined to hospital for three agonizing years, his body ravaged by tuberculosis, young Raymond Johnstone kept his brain active by solving math problems.

A student at Eton College, he had contracted the bacterial infection in his mid-teens and suffered spinal damage so severe that three of his vertebrae had to be reconstructed with a bone graft from his leg.

Physical recovery was a long and tedious process and throughout his stay at Wingfield Hospital, near Oxford, the stimulation of doing maths from his bed kept him mentally alert.

Sir Raymond Johnstone’s financial expertise and keen intelligence were sought after by many

It helped that he was clearly extremely bright – a fact that did not go unnoticed at Cambridge University. His studies in bed were almost certainly responsible for the automatic offer of admission to Trinity College.

Fully recovered, he took the place and read mathematics, then began his career in accountancy before becoming a successful investment manager and charismatic leader in his profession in Scotland.

Born in London and known by his middle name Raymond, he was the son of the former Alison McIntyre of Sorn Castle, Ayrshire and her husband Henry James Johnstone, naval correspondent for the London Evening News and later captain of the destroyer HMS Brazen.

As the son of a military man, he was disappointed that the effect of tuberculosis on his health prevented him from doing his national service, which continued to worsen over the years.

Consequently, after graduating from Cambridge, he trained as an accountant and worked for Robert Fleming & Co in London as an investment analyst before becoming a partner at Glasgow Brown’s accountancy firm, Fleming & Murray for much of the 1960s, during which time he was also a director of Shipping Industrial Holdings.

In 1968 he established the investment management company Murray Johnstone Ltd, serving as managing director and then as chairman until 1991. The business was eventually taken over by Aberdeen Asset Management.

Over the years Sir Raymond, who was appointed CBE in 1988, has also been a director of Scottish Amicable and chairman of numerous organisations, including Scottish Financial Enterprise and Murray International, as well as a plethora of public bodies.

Known as a man whose morals could never be bought, his financial expertise and quick wit were sought after by many, including the Forestry Commission and Scottish Opera.

He was recruited to the Forestry Commission, which he chaired between 1989 and 1994, when it was rumored that the aim was to privatize the ministry. They wanted an investment banker for the job but Sir Raymond, who loved trees, ‘became native’ and came back to them with the belief that it absolutely had to stay in the hands of the public. Not the answer they expected. However, his autonomy was respected and he was made a Knight Bachelor in the 1993 New Year’s Honors for Public Service in Scotland.

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He was also passionate about music, but when he took over as President of Scottish Opera in the early 1980s, he inherited an organization that found itself in a rather precarious situation, faced with financial and managerial crises. Widely considered to have almost single-handedly saved the company, he is credited with reviving its fortunes. Such was the appreciation for his contribution that Scottish Opera was to perform at his funeral.

Sir Raymond’s insatiable work ethic has also led him to chair the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, the Nuclear Trust and the Patrons of the National Galleries of Scotland, as well as serving as a director of RJ KILN Plc and Atrium Underwriting.

A prolific art collector, with an impressive collection including works by the Glasgow Boys, he also purchased fine pieces for the companies he chaired. His own portrait, which hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, was painted by John Byrne to ‘commemorate the personal, commercial and philanthropic interests of a man at the center of Scottish public and commercial life for several decades’, the National Galleries have said. .

Raised with strong Scottish roots, Sir Raymond was a countryman at heart and bought the idyllic Wards Estate, part nature reserve, part farm, on the edge of Loch Lomond where he lived with his wife Sara for many years. years. He had been a highly eligible bachelor when they met at a house party in Dumfriesshire. She was a widow and the mother of seven children. Married in 1979 when he was 51, he happily embraced the instant family whose ages ranged from six to their early twenties.

A natural host and entertainer who enthusiastically threw himself into everything he tackled, enlivening all proceedings with his sense of fun, he also had an unwavering passion for Scotland. A gentleman-farmer, he enjoyed the traditional pursuits of hunting and fishing, as well as sailing and skiing, and family vacations were spent on his beloved Tiree where they had a black house on the beach.

Later he and Sara moved to Ann Street in Edinburgh, where he was a great support to his wife as her health declined.

Widowed last November, he is survived by his seven stepchildren.

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