‘Away from the noise of London’
Terry Smith earned his spurs in the City and today plies his trade from warmer climes thousands of miles away. The son of a lorry driver, he grew up in east London but lives in Mauritius.
After gaining a first in history at University College Cardiff, he joined Barclays where he gained his reputation for picking a winner – and speaking directly.
He famously once told investors to sell shares in the lender even as he worked for its own investment banking arm BZW.
And in 1992 he was sacked from his £325,000 a year job at City firm UBS Phillips & Drew after he refused to withdraw a book he had written criticising accounting standards at many UK companies. Later, he joined Collins
Stewart, leading a management buyout and taking it through a merger, before launching Fundsmith with a £25m investment.
A boxing fan and qualified helicopter pilot, the pugilistic Smith is an exponent of Muay Thai, or Thai boxing. He said of his move to the island paradise: ‘Mauritius is much more convenient in terms of its time zone than London for dealing in Asian markets and I find being away from the “noise” of London helpful.’
It has been claimed he favoured colleagues who were like him – without inherited wealth. He is reported to devour thousands of research notes, annual reports and industry publications a week, from Tissue World magazine to Elevator World, to discover every last detail about a company.
Smith’s strategy is simple: ‘Buy good companies, don’t overpay, do nothing.’