Tony Dye RIP

Tony Dye, the only fund manager to talk sense during the first Internet bubble, has died. He withdrew his clients’ money from techbubble shares and put it into real companies and cash. For which service he was duly, er, retired. David Livesey pointed me at a generous obit in the Telegraph.

In March 2000, with the FTSE index at 6,400 and with Dye’s clients estimated to have lost some £8.5 billion in potential bull market gains, P&D finally lost patience. It was announced that Dye had taken “early retirement”. By this time the firm’s funds under management had fallen from £60 billion to less than £35 billion.

But Dye was – albeit belatedly – proved right. Within a month of his departure, and before P&D had had the chance to change its strategy, the stock market turned. Internet and telecom shares plunged, and the firm found itself rocketing from the bottom to the top of the pension fund performance tables.

The irony was that the hundreds of fund managers who had followed the herd and been proved disastrously wrong kept their jobs, while Dye paid the price for his independence of mind. Yet he remained philosophical, taking wry comfort from Keynes’s observation that “worldy wisdom teaches that it is better to fail conventionally than it is to succeed unconventionally”.