View more on these topics

Bob Yerbury

Perpetual chief investment officer Bob Yerbury is a man with a huge weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders.

It is not the weighty burden Perpetual&#39s £8.3bn funds under management but the important task of caring for his son&#39s tamagotchi.

Yerbury junior, youngest of three children between 11 and 20, has just started at a boarding school where tamagotchis are banned. For those lucky folk who have never come across one, a tamagotchi is an electronic pet which virtually eats, sleeps and moves its (electronic) bowels.

As these creatures have swiftly become the scourge of schools by bleeping demandingly to be fed in the middle of lessons, the Yerbury tamagotchi has to be cared for by Yerbury senior.

Unfortunately, Yerbury, 51, is obviously better at managing money than he is at looking after the tamagotchi. Ever since he has started carrying it around in his pocket it has refused to wake up, which has probably been a blessing during the recent stockmarket turmoil.

Yerbury is relaxed about the market correction, having worked through both the 1973/74 and 1987 crashes.

He says: "I enjoy markets even when they are going horribly pear-shaped. I remember in 1987 thinking this is history and I wanted to experience it."

For the first week of the 1987 crash, Yerbury stayed at the office until the US market closed at 9pm. To get himself through it, he bought himself a bottle of 10-year-old McCallan whiskey and sat sipping it as global markets crashed.

At the end of the week there was just a small amount left, which stayed in the bottle on his desk for 10 years until he moved four weeks ago from being head of Perpetual&#39s American investment team to taking the role of CIO.

He says: "I finally throw out the bottle – and what happens? Global markets crash."

Yerbury started his career in financial services at Equity & Law in 1968, joining as an actuary after studying maths at Cambridge. But he escaped from the actuarial side after one year to move into investment.

He joined E&L&#39s US desk in 1972 and took over as desk head in 1975. But in 1983 he was approached by Perpetual founder Martin Arbib to run the fund manager&#39s US investment team.

Yerbury says: "When I went to Perpetual, the chief executive of Equity & Law called me in for my final persuade-me-to- stay interview and said to me &#39Yerbury – are you mad?&#39 There was I leaving a respected 100-year-old life office and joining this itsy-bitsy little company with £55m under management."

But Arbib had amused Yerbury at his interview by whipping through his CV and interests and then spending an hour-and-a-half picking his brain on US stocks.

"It was just that commitment to investment as opposed to procedures and all the other stuff. That is what happens with life offices and big companies. I hope Perpetual never gets like that. Part of my job is to ens ure that we preserve at least some element of entrepreneurial culture."

Yerbury&#39s colleagues say he is constantly pushing himself. He used to play squash until he had problems with his knees, so he now spends his time at the gym, working himself so hard that he frightens his fellow exercisers.

America fund manager Grant Cowley says: &#39I have never known anyone who is so self-motivated. He will never, ever accept second best from himself."

Does that mean he is a control freak? He says not. "When you feel helpless, as someone who likes being active and solving problems, when you feel incapable, that is frustrating. But I am not a control freak. I acknowledge that there are things you cannot influence. The Lex column, for example, talking about the value of the American market being too high. That annoys me."

To Yerbury, this "red mist" is an essential part of a fund manager&#39s make-up.

He believes that a good fund manager should not only have basic intelligence and analytical abilities but also an adrenalin-fuelled killer instinct.

He says: "You are used to being emotional about things at times as a fund manager. You control it but at times you have to give vent to it."

He admits to missing the highs of fund management in his new role.

"You don&#39t get that buzz, you don&#39t come home thinking &#39Yes! That was great today&#39… I do miss it. I thought when I started that I could still do a bit of fund management on the side but you can&#39t and the events of the last few weeks have proved that."

Yerbury believes there must always be somebody who stands aside from the day-to-day fund management and oversees the operation.

He says: "When you are managing money, you make a lot of decisions, none of which in isolation matters that much but collectively they do. Doing what I am doing now, I am making fewer decisions but they had better be right."


Higher return from lower expectations

I was very surprised by the comments of the normally excellent Julian Gibbs (Money Marketing, November 20). He is completely mistaken to say that “in reality it is most unlikely that any of the major world stockmarkets will be lower in five-and-a-half years”. He should know that it is only because there is a very […]


Shares in Sedgwick Group rose by 5p to 146p as the firm posted a 6 per cent increase in pre-tax profits for 1997. Pre-tax profits grew to £101.2m from £95.5m in 1996 but the strength of sterling hit the figures by £10.2m.

Axa and Sun Life investment arms merge

Axa Equity & Law Investment Management and Sun Life Investment Management have merged, creating a fund manager with £30bn under management.

PIA fines London firm £10,000 over review

The PIA has slapped a £10,000 fine on a London broker for not carrying out the pension misselling review properly. Jacobs Insurance Brokers, of Cavendish Road, Highams Park, which has four registered individuals, has also been ordered to pay the costs of a verification visit. The PIA has also rejected the membership application of M […]

Guarantees in the retirement income market

Lorna Blyth, Royal London  Do guarantees benefit customers and, if so, when? To answer this conundrum we commissioned Millimans, a global actuarial consulting firm, to conduct an independent review of the UK retirement income market and whether guarantees really do offer customers better value for money. The brief The study was one of the most comprehensive undertaken […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers. Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and thought leadership.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm