Obituary: Dr Kenneth Lyall, 64

Dr Kenneth Lyall loved to spend time on his farms
Dr Kenneth Lyall loved to spend time on his farms
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Dr Kenneth Lyall, eminent economist, has died aged 64.

Born in Edinburgh on December 12, 1948, Kenneth John Lyall attended George Watson’s College where he was both academically and athletically outstanding. He was vice-captain of the school in 1966/67, won prizes in history and geography and was in the 1st XV and the athletic team, as well as being an excellent golfer.

He went on to study economics and the history of economics at Edinburgh University and on graduating joined management consultants Arthur Andersen & Co, first in their London offices and then in Glasgow.

In 1977 he returned to Edinburgh and studied for his PhD in financial economics, which he completed in 1982. The following year he was appointed the first investment manager of the Edinburgh financial firm of Walter Scott & Partners, which had just been set up by Dr Walter Scott, Ian Clark and Marilyn Harrison at Number One Charlotte Square.

The business was sold for an estimated £300 million in 2006 to the US bank Mellon Financial. In 2007 Dr Scott resigned from the board and was succeeded by Dr Lyall.

Under Dr Lyall’s stewardship, Walter Scott continued to expand and maintained its commanding position as one of the most respected “financial boutiques” in equity management.

The funds under the firm’s management have continued to rise and are now thought to be over $30 billion.

Profits last year rose by 25 per cent to £94m. Expert staff have been recruited and Dr Lyall was keen to pursue a policy of diversification, broadening the firm’s client base and reducing its dependence on the US-based pension funds.

For eight years Dr Lyall was an active trustee of Edinburgh’s David Hume Institute and was much involved in its debates on public policy issues – especially those that affected the economy of Scotland.

He keenly supported both Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities in fundraising activities and Scottish Women in Business.

Dr Lyall and his wife had a 950-hectare farm in the Borders and another in Angus. He campaigned fervently on behalf of the farming and forestry communities in the areas.

He was devoted to the countryside and enjoyed hill-walking and skiing. He and his wife were supporters of the arts, especially opera.

Dr Lyall was diagnosed with cancer more than a year ago. He faced the illness with the resolve and fortitude he displayed throughout his career. He died on June 13.

He is survived by his wife, Professor Jane Bower, formerly Professor of Enterprise Management at Dundee University and vice-convener for the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland, whom he married in 1989.