Allan Murray died recently. He was aged 72 and had lived and worked in Hong Kong since arriving here in 1971. He spent most of his working life as a stockbroker with Jardine Fleming, a joint venture formed in 1970 between Jardine Matheson and London merchant bank Robert Fleming & Co. Despite his easy going business style he survived its acquisition by the rather more straight-laced US investment bank, JP Morgan Chase and went on to become Chairman of Hong Kong Equity Broking a position he held until his recent death from a brain haemorrhage.
He was a man that embodied the spirt of the early Scottish merchant adventurers that came to the East in their youth and stayed. He worked hard and played hard. He was a larger than life character, well-known and well liked judging from the huge turnout at the Hong Kong Club for his wake.
He was generous with his hospitality and many will have enjoyed lunch at ‘his table’ over which he presided in the Jackson Room in the Hong Kong Club. His lunches were not for the abstemious. His energetic humour ensured they were never dull and were punctuated by the roaring guffaws of his inimitable laughter which came to be a feature of the Jackson Room at lunchtime.
He came to Hong Kong as securities manager for Standard Chartered Bank and in 1973 joined the recently formed Jardine Fleming. In those days before the 1986 ‘big bang,’ stockbroking differed markedly from the way it is conducted these days and relied more on personal relationships. Murray excelled in this environment and cultivated a wide range of clients which included rich Chinese who dominated the local stock market. As his obituary in The Scotsman observes, “From the outset he was dealing with the richest Chinese families and their generosity in sharing with him the finest Champagnes and clarets confirmed in his own mind that he had found an environment that suited him perfectly.”
He married Carol Zimmern herself a stock broker and daughter of Francis Zimmern, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange when Hong Kong had four stock exchanges. It was Carol who brought an end to Allan’s fondness for wearing bow-ties. When he proposed to her in 1976 she said, “Yes, I will marry you but you must stop wearing those ridiculous bow ties.”
He was a passionate golfer and was for many years chairman of the Shek O Golf & Country Club where he played at 6.15am every Sunday morning with a group known as the Dawn Patrol.
He was also an avid collector of Scottish paintings and the Allan and Carol Collection is regarded as one of the best private collections of Scottish historical paintings. Some 120 of them adorn the walls of the Hong Kong Club while other have been on long term to galleries in Scotland and England.
He will be sorely missed by his many friends.