Born: February 14, 1937;

Died: August 20, 2020.

RONNIE Scott Brown, who has died aged 83, was an influential lawyer and fund manager who co-founded the investment group Aberdeen Asset Management. Established in the early 1980s with two of his colleagues from a firm of solicitors, the company grew to become one of the world’s leading investment management groups, managing billions of pounds for institutions and private investors.

The growth of the firm also underlined Mr Scott Brown’s reputation as a highly respected figure in his home city, in particular as a supporter of Aberdeen University. As convenor of its business committee, Chancellor’s Assessor on the court, and a trustee of the development trust, he provided valued advice and support and helped steady and grow the university’s finances.

Mr Scott Brown had maintained his connection with the university after graduating LL.B in the 1950s. For five years, he served as a course leader for the diploma in legal practice while completing his traineeship with the Aberdeen firm Paull and Williamson. He then became an assistant and later a partner at Brander and Cruickshank, where his clients included leading figures in the fishing industry.

However, from an early stage, his responsibilities at Brander and Cruickshank also included investment management work. At the time, it was customary for lawyers to manage and invest money for their clients and Mr Scott Brown took on the task on top of his company law work. But by the early 1980s, the legal and investment worlds were diverging and, along with colleagues George Robb and Martin Gilbert, Mr Scott Brown left Brander and Cruickshank to establish an independent investment management company.

Known as Aberdeen Fund Managers, the early days of the firm were challenging – not least because of the market crash of 1987. Initially, the three men set up their office with some furniture from Mr Scott Brown’s kitchen and in their first year reported a modest profit of £87. However, the success of the firm grew and, as Aberdeen Asset Management, it became one of the leading brands in the sector.

Mr Scott Brown had effectively been a full-time investment manager since the 1960s, but his original intention had been to become a lawyer and he showed early flair for the subject. Born in Madras, India, to Sir William and Lady Evelyn Scott Brown, one of his earliest memories was adjudicating a dispute over the ownership of a fish that his friends caught in a pond. The amicable resolution was an early pointer to the young Ronnie’s legal mind and calm way of dealing with difficult situations.

Ronnie and his older brother Alastair had a happy time in India, where his father had a senior post in the Indian civil service, but in 1946 the family returned to Aberdeen, where the cold weather was a bit of a shock to the children at first. Ronnie was sent to Aberdeen Grammar School and later studied for an MA at Aberdeen University, where he joined the Officer Training Corp and learned to parachute and ski. He then studied for two years at Aberdeen for an LL.B.

After graduating, he joined Paull and Williamson in 1958 as a trainee – the remuneration was £50 a year, which he received in single pound notes – before joining Brander and Cruickshank. His responsibilities there were daunting: he had to get up to speed on company law, he had to look after important clients in the fishing industry, and he had to do investment management work. Eventually, the other work took a back seat and he worked in the investment department full-time. He was made a partner in 1966.

By the 1970s and early 1980s, there was considerable consolidation in the industry and the investment trust had to fend off many hostile bids. The conclusion of Mr Scott Brown and his colleagues was that they needed to establish an independent investment management company. Aberdeen Fund Managers was created in June 1983.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1991, it changed its name to Aberdeen Asset Management in 1997 and grew rapidly, setting up offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, where Mr Scott Brown was a regular visitor. He was chairman of the company from 1988 to 1991 and stood down as a non-executive director in 2003. By that point, the firm was managing £20 billion and employing more than 1,000 people around the world. Aberdeen Asset Management merged with Standard Life in 2017, creating Standard Life Aberdeen.

In addition to AAM, Mr Scott Brown was on the board of the Aberdeen College of Education and was a director of the Caledonian Research Foundation and the Scottish Council for Development and Industry. He served as director on several ‘spin out’ companies, including M&T Technology, who developed the first prototype of an MRI Scanner at Aberdeen University. Mr Scott Brown and his father were recognised for their service to the university by the naming of the Scott Brown Quadrangle in 2013. He served on the University Development Trust until 2015, and was awarded the University Medal to add to his honorary LLD from 1996.

Away from the investment world, Mr Scott Brown had a considerable hinterland, principally in the Scouts. He first joined the movement when he was still out in India and took on the leadership of the 25thA Scout Group in Aberdeen when he was 21. It became the biggest group in the city. The church was also extremely important to him. He was a member his whole life, first at Beechgrove and then Rubislaw.

Mr Scott Brown is survived by his wife Jean, his sons Michael, Kenneth and Alan, and his grandchildren.