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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Appreciation: Robert Lorne Thomas (1945-2007)

It is with great sadness that we heard of the death on Christmas Day of Robert Thomas. After graduating from Cambridge University, Robert planned to work in the City for a year before returning to do a thesis on interest rate theory. The lure of the City remained too strong, however, and he worked there for his entire career.

He joined the stockbroker, W Greenwell and Company, and remained there for 25 years, specialising in the bond market. He became partner, bond market research in 1976 and chief economist in 1980. Following the Big Bang, the company became Greenwell Montagu, part of Midland Bank. There he became director and head of research and, subsequently, director of international research.

During his time at Greenwell he worked closely with Gordon Pepper and the pair were co-authors of the 1973 Institute sessional paper Cyclical Changes in Capital Markets, a text that was awarded an Institute prize and was part of the exam syllabus for many years.

He was also co-editor of the Greenwell Monetary Bulletin. These became highly influential in the City and were extensively used by the financial press. They extended the range of analyses on published financial statistics, some of which were taken up in later published government statistics. They were an important factor in the formation of City opinion and it is now known that they were read by and influenced the very centre of government.

Robert’s career continued with NatWest Capital Markets and, lastly, with Henderson Global Investors, where he held the posts of head of global fixed interest and director of fixed income.

The lure of the City extended beyond his professional life. He was one of the founding liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Actuaries. He was also a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers and was master of that Company in 1996/1997. This experience and his City contacts served him and our Worshipful Company well in his year as master actuary, which finished only last July.

In more than 800 years of City of London Livery Company history, Robert and his wife achieved a unique status. It was the first time that a husband and wife had simultaneously been masters of two Livery Companies, Robert as master actuary and Jo as master glass seller. I was privileged to meet them on many occasions during that year. They were both popular and interesting masters and they seemed to be on everyone’s invitation list.

This enjoyable year included many memorable highlights, ranging from the glitter of the Mansion House Banquet attended by the lord mayor, and a garden party at Buckingham Palace, to the successful Company lecture at Staple Inn and a most successful liverymen’s weekend at Newmarket. There are many City Livery Company Lectures each year but all the masters there said our lecture, ‘Everest, the dark side’, given by two of his friends, was the best and most inspirational of the year.

As master, Robert proved himself an excellent ambassador both for the Livery Company and the Profession.

Robert had a number of other interests. Apart from opera and a love of wine, he was a keen tennis player, and enjoyed fishing and shooting. His love of horses was manifest to all those at his Newmarket weekend. He was also concerned for the welfare of others and was involved in much charitable work. He was chairman of the Glass Sellers’ Charity Fund, and of the Charles S French Charitable Trust. He was on the Finance Committee of the Musicians’ Benevolent Fund and took the role of treasurer for both the Addenbrooke’s Liver Transplant Association and the Epping Forest Centenary Trust. He was also vice-chairman of governors at Chigwell School.

Robert was a gentleman, most pleasant, helpful and friendly. He leaves a loving widow, Jo, and two sons, Greg and Roly, and he will also be much missed by all who knew him.

John Lockyer