Obituary: David Maitland CVO, managing director of Save & Prosper

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Born: 9 May, 1922, in Australia. Died: 18 April, 2013, in Hampshire, aged 90

DAVID Maitland was one of the pioneers in post-war financial management who believed in the unit trust movement and spotted how it could greatly benefit the small investor.

His years at Save & Prosper (S&P) ensured that the company became one of the leaders in the management of funds and Maitland championed the industry with an enthusiastic zeal.

Under his inspiring management, S&P gave to millions of investors in Britain an alternative to saving money with National Savings Bonds and the like. Up until the 1950s, the City was a remote and complex place and few had the connections to gain access to stock brokers.

At a stroke, S&P made investment in equities a reality and through monthly saving plans made investment on the Stock Exchange accessible. The unit trust movement was in direct competition with the hugely successful, and long established, investment trusts centred for many years in Edinburgh’s Charlotte Square. By investing with S&P, the small investor spread his risk and gained expert management.

S&P’s connections with Scotland go back many years. In the 1960s, S&P launched the hugely successful unit trust Scotbits, which was sold over the counter at all the Scottish banks. Scotbits’ chairman, Lord Polwarth, acted as both deputy governor and governor of the Bank of Scotland in the 1960s.

David Henry Maitland was the son of an Australian metals broker. He attended Eton and King’s College, Cambridge, where he read law. He did not complete the degree as he joined the Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and was hospitalised on D-Day after an accident in a Jeep. He joined his regiment serving in the advance through north France, but was wounded in the Netherlands in 1944. He recovered from that injury to serve in Berlin, where he guarded Hitler’s Bunker.

He was demobilised with the rank of captain and did his articles in accountancy with Whinney Smith & Whinney – coming third in the country in his final examinations.

Maitland then worked with Mobil Oil. He met a former university friend, Oliver Stutchbury, who had dreamt up the catchy title Save & Prosper. Maitland became Stutchbury’s right-hand man and pioneered innovative marketing methods that stressed the save-as-you earn advantages of the organisation. There were full page advertisements – especially in the Sunday newspapers – and the response from the public was steady and considerable.

Maitland was appointed the managing director of S&P in 1966 and for two decades he spearheaded the selling of S&P’s trusts. He branched out into allied financial fields and by the mid-1980s the company managed £5 billion of assets on behalf of 500,000 customers in 27 funds. It was a considerable success story.

Throughout his career, Maitland showed a foresight and intuition regarding the changing fashions in financial markets. This was typified in 1978 when it was not usual for British funds to invest heavily in the Far East and Asia. That year Maitland launched the Save & Prosper South East Asia Growth Fund, concentrating on companies quoted in Hong Kong and Malaysia. He was enthusiastic about the region’s prospects, telling a launch in Glasgow: “The region bordering the South China Sea has experienced substantial growth and we expect that the rate of growth in the area will be greater than that of western economies.” Shrewdly, Maitland aimed the trust at the small investor, with a minimum investment at £250.

Maitland preserved a keen eye on the entire S&P operation. One, now senior City manager, recalls: “David – our managing director during my first year – put his head round my door when I was working late and asked me if I was being productive.” It was that concern for hard work and preserving a life away from the office that concerned Maitland. He retired from S&P in 1981 when the merchant bank Robert Fleming, which had held a stake in S&P since 1934, acquired the business. Maitland remained on the board for six years.

He sat on many City regulatory bodies – the Unit Trust Association, the Takeover Panel, the Capital Markets Committee and the Inflation Accounting Steering Group. All benefited from Maitland’s wise advice and his wide experience of the investment industry. He was a leading representative of the institutional investor lobby in the debate prior to Big Bang in 1986.

After his retirement, Maitland remained active advising on investment matters for numerous charities – notably the Duchy of Lancaster. He retired from that board in 1987 and was appointed a CVO that year.

Maitland was a popular and respected figure throughout the financial community who preserved an astute ability to interpret markets. He was keen on golf, gardening, opera and ballet. He married Judith Gold in 1955; she survives him along with their three daughters.