Tribute to Alan Steel, former Executive Team member & 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award winner

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Alan pictured in his favourite place, Ibiza in October 2020.

It is with great sadness that I share the news that Alan Steel of Alan Steel Asset Management has passed away from Covid.  Alan was a member of our Executive Team for 3 years from 2012 – 2015 during which time he was a highly valued, committed and appreciated member of the team.

In 2014, he presented Barry Sealey CBE, one of Scotland’s foremost angel investors & co-founder of Archangels with our inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award at the Assembly Rooms in Edinburgh.

Alan himself went on to win our Lifetime Achievement Award in 2018 at our Conference at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, presented to him by Gaynor Turner, former Ambassador in our Executive Team. I still remember the day I called Alan to let him know that he had won and I will never forget his incredulity at having been unanimously voted to win the Award.  He was one of the most self-effacing people I have ever known, despite being widely recognised as one of Scotland’s most highly respected and influential leaders in the financial sector.  Alan was an avid reader and devoured books at a rate I’ve never seen anyone able to do, he always had great recommendations to pass on, all which I duly bought and appreciated the reasons why.

Commenting on his Award win at the time, Alan said:

“I always believed that life is a journey not a destination. But having been on this journey for 43 years now, it’s brilliant to have all the trials and tribulations of that long journey recognised by WeDO in the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award!

It means so much as well to my wonderful colleagues, many of whom have shared the journey with me over the last 20 to 25 years.  My grannies would be flabbergasted and pleased as punch. My Auntie Irene in Canada is over the moon!  So thank you so much Belinda and your team for this. Just magic!”

Originally from Bo’ness, Alan ’emigrated’ to Linlithgow aged five and a half and attended Linlithgow Academy followed by Edinburgh University from 1965 to 1969 where he gained a degree in Geography & Maths . He commenced his career as a Trainee Actuary for Scottish Widows and in 1973 became an IFA until 1975 when he started his entrepreneurial journey founding Alan Steel Asset Management.

During his working life, Alan experienced and survived 5 stock market crashes and several economic downturns, not an accolade that many could match nor wish to experience.

Unlike most, additionally due to his ‘allergy’ to commuting, Alan avoided the herd instinct of locating in a big city.  Alan Steel Asset Management has remained based in Linlithgow and from here they serve clients throughout the UK, the Channel Islands, Monaco, Spain and even as far away as Australia.

The Alan Steel Asset Management DNA is knowledge, integrity, innovation, fairness and fun and Alan delivered, and his team will continue to deliver, a unique brand of common sense, fairness and value for money to all their clients. Others think so too … the firm has been recognised in mulitple UK awards including the Best Investment IFA a record three times since 2005.

Another indication of the esteem in which Alan was held was the advice he gave to the Government Treasury Select Committee. He helped them tackle issues such as Split Capital Funds, the Equitable Life debacle and how the government re-establishes our faith in investment funds – that was a steep mountain to climb if ever there was one.

Never afraid to speak his mind and as an early critic of With Profit Plans, Alan was the first to accuse Equitable Life of incompetence back in 1997. He penned hundreds of articles criticising the Government and an industry, which “encourages financial ignorance and rewards poor sales techniques with high commission.”

He wrote countless articles, appeared on radio, television and in national media in his quest to continuously ‘lift the lid’ on the financial services industry and bring education to the doorsteps of all.  His popular ‘Letters from Linlithgow’ sent to clients and friends were always a source of plain speaking, valued and respected commentary mixed in with his trademark sense of humour.

Many people leave behind a legacy but Alan leaves one bigger than many.  His kind nature, generosity, intelligent commentary and quirky sense of humour will never be forgotten, as well as his unique communication skills which often served to change the minds of even the most cynical listeners.

Outwith work, Alan was a big fan of red wine, music he could jam to on his mouth organ (always referred to as his ‘moothie’), his beloved Ibiza and last, but not least, Twitter, where he regularly put the cat amongst the pigeons with some of his tweets.  Another trademark of Alan’s was his watch, he’s the only grown man I know who wore a Snoopy watch with great pride!  Once Alan had retired from giving financial advice (albeit not from the business), he used to say his grandchildren described him as ‘semi-retarded’ – typical of his humour!

I am honoured and humbled to not only have worked with Alan, but also to count him as a loyal and good friend.  He gave me so much great advice over the years since founding WeDO in 2008 and for that I will always be immensely grateful. I, and all of us at WeDO who were lucky enough to know him, will always hold him close to our hearts.

We send our deepest sympathies to Alan’s wife Fran, his children, Catherine and Malcolm, and his grandchildren, all of whom he was so proud of.  Also to his colleagues at Alan Steel Asset Management to whom he will also be a huge loss.

Rest in peace Alan and thank you for your immense contribution to the lives of so many, both in business and personally, you will be greatly missed and always remain in our memories.