9 June 2016

Geordie Kidston

Geordie Kidston’s sudden and unexpected death has shocked us all here at JM Finn, particularly me having known him personally for many years. A hugely analytical mind, Geordie had been Head of Research for twelve years providing a highly original take on stocks and markets. Ever present across the firm, he would deliver his latest opinions each morning and write intricate and relevant insights for this publication, of which he was hugely influential in its content and style.

Geordie grew up in rural Wales on the Upper Wye where wild trout streams and once impressive salmon runs allowed his lifelong love for all things piscatorial to flourish. He was educated at Eton College and then Exeter University.

He decided to become an analyst whilst at Mercury Asset Management and then moved on to help start up Ruffer Investment Management about 22 years ago. From there Geordie moved to Neville Merriam where he was instrumental in turning the company around and following them being taken over he moved to join us at JM Finn & Co, thus cementing a long-standing connection that goes back to the 1970s when his family first became clients of the firm.

Over the last twelve years Geordie has been the leading light in our Research Department and extremely important in the development of the firm. He made many incisive calls on individual sectors, markets and companies over the years and all the Investment Managers and many clients are indebted to Geordie for his insights. For him, investment analysis was a 24/7 job which consumed much of his life. We will all remember his daily meetings when he’d tell us what he’d discovered at 2am that morning.

It takes persistent bravery and originality to make as many unique calls as Geordie did. His dogged passion for markets meant his meetings were unmissable, even if what he had to say was not always popular. He supplemented his own reading with an extensive network of market professionals and company executives who clearly enjoyed the often abstract questions that he fired their way. In one memorable meeting, Geordie informed an incredulous CEO of a FTSE stalwart that his industry was about to be revolutionised by Bitcoin; looking how far Bitcoin has come since then, this prescience was typical.

Geordie was also a great observer of UK politics and used to talk about situations and people without actually expressing distinct political views of his own, unlike his comments about markets and stocks. Over the years, he has introduced the firm to some very senior politicians and political figures giving us leading insights into the ways of Westminster.

He was a great friend to a number of people and his attentive kindness and generosity often went way beyond the call of duty. His altruism only truly came to light of late, when charities close to his heart, to whom he had been incredibly generous over the years, wrote to me expressing their condolences.

I know many of his friends and former colleagues, and we are all saddened and shocked at what has happened. He will leave a big hole in both our professional and domestic lives. I am in no doubt that evenings at Geordie’s clubs, Whites and Pratts, will never be the same without him and I’m sure his fellow anglers at the Piscatorial Society will mourn his passing.

There are few blessed at birth to be tremendous stock pickers but Geordie was one of them. His cerebral capacity for both gathering and assimilating the flows of trade, commerce, finance and politics were matched by few. 

His sister, Cath, revealed recently that Geordie always imagined clients of JM Finn & Co as people like their mother – being dependant on being looked after. He often told her how he took that responsibility incredibly seriously. This highlights how Geordie was the very essence of JM Finn & Co and reminds us what a big hole has been left here, and not just in the research team. 

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