Oliver Stanley

Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson

Honourable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Oliver Stanley for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

We honour Oliver Stanley today for his outstanding contribution to the financial services sector in Liverpool and for his extensive charitable work.   

Oliver Duncan Stanley was born in Liverpool in 1925 to Bernard and Mabel Stanley. 

Evacuated during the Second World War to North Wales, Oliver attended Rhyl Grammar School before seeing active service with the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars in France and Germany. In 1947, he read English Literature at Christ Church Oxford and then won a postgraduate fellowship at Harvard University.   

In 1952, he became an Inspector of Taxes in Weymouth before being unexpectedly transferred back to Liverpool, the familiar city of his childhood. It was there that he married Ruth Brenner in 1954 – they have three daughters, one son and 13 grandchildren.   

During his ten years as a senior tax inspector, Oliver studied part-time to be a barrister and was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1963. In 1966, at a time when the Labour Government was proposing to squeeze the rich through taxation, the game-keeper turned poacher. Bored with tax inspection, Oliver Stanley switched sides and became a tax advisor and soon director with the merchant bank, Gray Dawes. It was at this time that he published his first book, A Guide to Taxation.   

In 1971, he founded Comprehensive Financial Services, which he described as a very small company with large aspirations, and based on the then novel idea of a one-stop-shop, with the company supplying clients with a complete range of personal financial services. 

At the time, income and capital taxes were set at penal rates, and his view was that if people were attacked by confiscatory tax rates, they should be able to defend themselves. As the company grew, Oliver developed a specialisation in agricultural taxation, becoming the Chief Taxation Advisor to the Country Landowners Association in 1975, and in 1981, publishing the seminal Taxation of Farmers and Landowners, now in its 25th edition.   

In 1988, at the time when tax laws were becoming more tolerable, CFS acquired Rathbone Brothers, adopting the name of this long-established Liverpool-based asset management company. The business grew from strength to strength and Oliver Stanley became chairman when Rathbone Brothers was floated on the Stock Exchange in 1992. 

During these years he was also a non-executive director of Axa's subsidiary, Equity and Law, a Member of the Council of Legal Education, and a Governor of the Inns of Court School of Law. He remained with Rathbone Brothers until he stepped down in 2000.   

A member of the Society of Authors since 1967, this seasoned writer of books on taxation has also written extensively in the press on taxation and economic policy. In 1996, he founded Profile Books, and was chairman from 1996 to 2005. The company came to prominence in 2003 when it published Lynne Truss's bestseller, Eats, Shoots and Leaves, and it is now one of the UK's largest independent publishers.   

Since his retirement from Rathbone brothers, Oliver has been as busy as ever. He is actively involved in various local and national charities helping the aged, the infirm, and carers. He is for example a Trustee of Age Concern in Barnet, and a Trustee and Chairman of Barnet Carers Centre. He says "You do get the sense that individual carers feel isolated. If you are a carer you feel you are doing it on your own. It is a lonely job, and the Centre provides them with a sense of community, making them realise they are not isolated."   

He also supports special interests through grants from a charitable trust – special interests such as the relief of poverty, the needs of old age, medical research, and the maintenance and development of the arts.  

He still writes but no longer about taxation, he recently made his mark with two well-received novels: in 2007 Hotel Victoire, set in post-war Paris, and described by one reviewer as "elegantly written, charming and racy". The following year, he published 1941, a tale of intrigue and deception set in war-time Paris and London. And he has recently completed a third novel entitled Happy Families.   

As if that wasn't enough for a man in his 9th decade, he greatly enjoys music, French Civilisation and tennis, which he looks forward to resuming once he has recovered from his hip operation. 

So we honour Oliver Stanley, Liverpool born, Liverpool married and a frequent visitor to his beloved Liverpool. 

For the past 20 years he has taken an interest in the progress of our University and we acknowledge his support and friendship with gratitude today.  

Thus I have great pleasure in presenting Oliver Stanley, this most distinguished son of our city, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.