George Henry Ross Goobey (23 May 1911 – 19 March 1999) was an English pension fund manager, the first to suggest in the late 1940s that pension funds should buy equities – shares in public companies – instead of government bonds known as gilt-edged stocks, as was commonplace for such funds at the time. He was described in one obituary as “the only truly revolutionary figure in the post- war history of British fund management.
Ross Goobey was the younger son and third child of Herbert Goobey, a shopkeeper and Primitive Methodist lay preacher, and his wife, Elizabeth Ross. Born in Poplar, East London, he excelled in mathematics at school, but as his family could not afford a university education, and so Ross Goobey joined the British Equitable Assurance Company as an actuarial trainee after leaving school in 1928. He worked successively for several British insurance companies before in 1947 being appointed the first in-house investment manager for the Imperial Tobacco Company’s pension fund, then valued at £12 million.[a]Equivalent to about £2.7 billion as at 2021, calculated using the relative output value. As was common with similar funds at the time, its assets were almost entirely invested in government bonds, otherwise known as gilt-edged stocks.
The government had recently issued a 2.5 per cent undated stock at a time when inflation was averaging 4 per cent, which Ross Goobey considered to be a “swindle”. He eventually succeeded in persuading his fund’s investment committee to switch their investments from gilt-edged securities into equities, even though divesting themselves of their existing portfolio would incur a loss of £1 million. The move was so successful that most other pension-fund managers followed suit, beginning “a new era in Britain’s fund-management industry”.
Ross Goobey was early to suspect in the late 1960s that share prices may have peaked, and switched his investment strategy towards commercial property, mainly in London. Following the stock market slump of 1974, he advocated switching once again to government bonds, as the yield of 16 per cent on War Bonds was very attractive to tax-exempt pension funds. After retiring from Imperial Tobacco in in 1975 Ross Goobey was appointed chairman of the property company Warnford Investments, a position he held until 1991.
Ross Goobey married Gladys Menzies in 1937. Their son Alastair Ross Goobey (1945–2008), followed in his father’s footsteps by becoming chief executive of the Hermes pension fund group. Ross Goobey died of heart disease in Weston-super-Mare General Hospital on 19 March 1999, aged 87.