John Newlands Robert Fleming (1845-1933) – Financial Entrepreneur, Benefactor, Dundonian

Sat 22 June 2019

Robert Fleming left school at 13 to work as an office boy for a salary of £5 per annum. Before he was 28, Fleming had pioneered the launch, in Dundee, of the Scottish American Investment Trust, still trading today as Dunedin Income Growth Investment Trust and managed by Aberdeen Standard Investments.

He went on to become a stalwart of the investment trust sector, a government adviser in the First World War, a generous public benefactor and to launch the great merchant bank which bore his name. He was also the grandfather of Ian Fleming, the James Bond author.

John Newlands describes Fleming’s formative years, his passion for self-improvement, his unshakeable integrity and his unfailing belief in the necessity for first-hand research prior to investment. “Robert Fleming has been described as Scotland’s Dick Whittington”, Newlands notes, “and I don’t think that’s far off the mark”.

John Newlands has written four books about financial history, including The History of Aberdeen Asset Management (2nd Edition, 2014) and the 150-year anniversary History of Foreign & Colonial Investment Trust, published in March 2018. He was Head of Investment Companies Research at Brewin Dolphin from 2007 until June 2017.

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