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Jazz Shapers

Shaper: Martin Gilbert

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Elliot Moss interviews Martin Gilbert co-founder and Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management PLC on Jazz Shapers

Here we are today, after the acquisition of the fund management arm of Scottish Widows, sitting at 500 billion US dollars.  It’s so staggering that sometimes I even don’t believe we’ve achieved what we have.

“We were just lucky. Running the business is a different skill from running the money.”

We try and build from the bottom, take on a lot of interns and grads every year and watch them develop in the business.

“Scottish fund management professionals were always interested in investing overseas; I think that’s the big skill they have.  That combined with the reputation for canniness.”

We found ourselves in the middle of a perfect storm.  It was a very uncomfortable experience.  We almost went bust as a company.

“All you can do is try and keep morale up in the business by acting bravely yourself and that’s what I did.” 

When everyone else writes you off, you’ve just got to get on and prove them all wrong.

“The problem with the industry is that it’s become over complicated. What we really try and do is just simplify everything.” 

One of my major mistakes was saying I’d retire when Alex Ferguson did.  I’ve had to retract that promise.  It’s terrible.

“Once you think “how long do I want to carry on for”, that’s probably the time to stop.”

Martin Gilbert, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Aberdeen Asset Management PLC.

Martin Gilbert is a co-founder and Chief Executive of Aberdeen Asset Management PLC, the holding company of the fund management group that was established in 1983.

Under Martin’s leadership, Aberdeen has become one of the world’s leading independent asset managers through a combination of organic growth and acquisition. The Group’s core expertise is in equities, fixed income, alternatives and property and it manages assets for national and corporate pension funds, central banks, financial institutions, charities, foundations and private individuals around the world. It joined the FTSE 100 in March 2012.

In 2008, Martin was named European Personality of the Year at the Funds Europe Awards. In 2009, he was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Aberdeen for services to business and entrepreneurship. In 2011, he was named Scotland PLC CEO of the Year at the Business Insider/PWC Scotland PLC Awards.

Martin, who was born in Malaysia, was educated in Aberdeen and has an MA in Accountancy and an LLB. He divides his time between Aberdeen, where the business has always been headquartered, and London, as well as overseeing the international operations of the Group.

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