Image of the Liverpool Cathedral

Roy Morris CBE

Oration

Roy Morris

Presented by: Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Roy Morris for the award of an Honorary Fellowship of Liverpool John Moores University. 

Roy Morris began his first job in the late 1950s on £4 per week as a junior bookkeeper alongside the 14 other staff at Rathbone Brothers and retired from the company in 2004 as Chief Executive, having overseen its expansion into an international wealth management business employing in excess of 800 staff. 

He has remained steadfastly loyal to his roots, turning down countless lucrative opportunities to relocate from Liverpool over the course of his career. 

And he now keeps busy as a tireless promoter of Liverpool and its region, and an extraordinarily successful fund-raiser for a variety of causes. 

Roy, an only child of Alf and Pearl Morris, was born behind a cobbler's shop in Aintree, a stone's throw from the race-course, during World War 2. At school he showed early prowess as an athlete, representing Lancashire and Liverpool schoolboys at football, and Lancashire Boys at cricket and athletics. At 16, he was offered terms by Everton and Liverpool, but this was the era of the maximum wage when playing professional football was far from financially rewarding. 

He decided instead to join the police force, but was then offered a job at Rathbone Brothers. 

His inner drive and aptitude for the work was soon recognised, and he was delighted to accept a 25% pay-rise to £5 per week within a few weeks of joining the firm. Thereafter, it was a matter of recognising the opportunities as they arose and grasping them. Of course, it also required great dedication, 18-hour days, extending his knowledge through part-time study at college and by correspondence, and as his career developed, more and more time spent away from home on business.   

Such dedication to his career would have been impossible without the unwavering support of his wife, Veronica, and their children, Andrew and Vicky - they are here today to share in this proud occasion. 

An early break came when Roy was appointed company secretary of an investment trust launched by Rathbones which turned out to be a great success. His career was also helped by him being appointed as an assistant to Larry Rathbone, the managing Director of Rathbone Brothers, in the early 60s.  

"Mr Larry", a well-known philanthropist, became his mentor, teaching him about the prudent management of investments and the importance to the business of social skills and networking. Roy learned quickly, but it was not all about work in those days. For example, Roy was able to put his football skills to good use as manager of the Liverpool Stock Exchange football team which by all accounts 'was renowned throughout the area for the extreme smartness of its kit, if not always for its success on the field.'  

When Larry Rathbone retired in 1978, Roy took over much of his portfolio, got to know the clients, extended the client base and became a full partner in 1983 - the first non-member of the Rathbone family to achieve this status. 

Thereafter, he played a key role in a series of mergers and acquisitions which saw a rapid expansion of the business into the leading discretionary fund management company in the UK with current assets of £11 billion and an annual turnover of £120 million. All the back-office administration, involving about 40 percent of the workforce, is based in Liverpool. 

He became Managing Director in 1992 and then Chief Executive Officer before retiring in 2004.      

In 1997, he became a Deputy Lieutenant of Merseyside in recognition of his growing influence on the fortunes of this city. Having first come to the attention of the wider public through a weekly column in The Daily Post, his public profile has steadily increased through his leadership in regional regeneration and through his involvement in numerous fund-raising initiatives.  

His current activities include:  

  • Chairman of The Mersey Partnership, which is responsible for inward investment, economic regeneration and tourism for Merseyside 
  • Since his appointment 6 years ago, many thousands of new jobs have been created, tourism has grown dramatically, and he has played a key role in attracting government support for the proposed second bridge over the Mersey 
  • A member of the Board of the Capital of Culture Company and part of the Executive team. Prior to that, he was also very much involved in the successful Capital of Culture bid
  • A non-executive director of Liverpool Women's Hospital
  • The Regional Chairman of the Yorkshire Bank  

He also makes a major contribution to society through fund-raising, perpetuating the Rathbone Brothers ethos of benefaction: 

  • He is a former trustee of the Pain Relief Foundation at Walton Hospital
  • A former chair of the MacMillan fund-raising committee, raising £1 million
  • He assisted the Roy Castle LCF in raising £200,000 of research funds
  • He Chaired the Kenny and Marina Dalglish Appeal for breast cancer funds for the Oncology Unit at Aintree Hospital - so far raised £1.5 million 
  • He is Chair of the Hadfield & Hemvy Trust which has £11 million at its disposal for charities
  • He is Chair of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Foundation
  • An Advisor to the Liverpool Cathedral Development Campaign, and a
  • Trustee of the LJMU Trust and member of the Advisory Board of the LJMU Development Fund for the new Design Academy  

Roy Morris, throughout his outstanding career in investment banking, has remained loyal to the city of his birth. 

Through his sheer commitment and enthusiasm, he continues to make an outstanding contribution to the regeneration of Liverpool and region not only through his extensive charity work, but also through his key leadership roles, most notably with The Mersey Partnership and The Capital of Culture Company.  

He is a credit to the city and is indeed a worthy recipient of an honour from this university. 

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Roy Morris DL, this most distinguished son of our region, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.