In Memory of a Friend.....


Now and again, in a well-travelled and diverse life, I’ve been lucky enough to meet some unforgettable and unique individuals who have left a totally indelible impression.

No-one more so than David Minton Anderson.

I first met David on 15th September 1985, a date etched in memory as it was also the first time since 1957 that UK and Europe had defeated the US team to win golf’s prestigious Ryder Cup.

I was driving down the M1 in England, listening to Golfing history unfold, booked to attend a technical services course at an Executive Retreat somewhere in deepest Hertfordshire, courtesy of Allied Dunbar.

On arrival, I was greeted by David Anderson, legendary Head of Independent Financial Adviser Services for the organisation. At that time, Allied Dunbar was a major force in the British market and earned a reasonable level of support from our wee IFA brokerage. It didn’t take long after talking to David for a short time to appreciate why the Company had been so successful over a relatively short time span.

Some members of the NZ financial services community of a similar vintage may remember David – all those who encountered him most certainly will.

But I’m getting ahead of the story.

In conversation with David, he struck me immediately as a highly intelligent, knowledgeable, and perceptive individual, with a deep understanding of his fellow human beings.

Over the next couple of years, I met David at several industry functions in London and elsewhere and his in-depth awareness of the world around him, of the key issues facing us then, and of the solutions available, confirmed my initial impression.

Fast forward to early 1994 and Sovereign’s search for more effective distribution resources had me recommend David to the Directors and he joined just after I departed to take up the General Manager’s role at AIA later that year.

Of course, our paths crossed frequently as competitors, but the rivalry was always amicable and respectful, and we always had time for a glass of something, a laugh, and a chat. David’s departure from Sovereign following the ASB Bank acquisition presented an opportunity for me to tap into his vast experience to help build a stronger, more unified, and more effective Management team at AIA – which David delivered on handsomely.

On taking up the Managing Director’s role at AIA Australia in early 2003, news reached me that David had been diagnosed with prostate cancer but was up for the fight as was typical of his indomitable approach to everything. This was just another obstacle to be tackled which he undertook with great courage and determination.

During his last visit to Melbourne, we had lunch together, chatted at length about the challenges of the local market, and how he could contribute to AIA Australia’s progress.

Sadly, it was not to be. While on a visit to AIG Headquarters in New York in October 2003, I took a phone call to inform me that David had lost the battle and finally succumbed to the terrible condition two months after his 57th birthday.

I flew back to Australia via Auckland with a heavy heart to attend David’s funeral on 21st October in Remuera where he had arranged everything – as usual. A section for latecomers had been cordoned off, and, to cover the possibilities, a Catholic Priest and a Presbyterian Minister had been jointly charged with conducting matters.

Looking back over the years, it’s hard to put into words the impact that David had on my life and career. Suffice to say that there are many individuals – me included – who have reason to be grateful that David Minton Anderson graced their lives.

After all this time, I still miss his wise counsel, his wicked sense of humour, and the ability to offer a thoughtful and intelligent summation of any issue presented him – and his friendship.

If growing a moustache and requesting small but plentiful contributions assists some future generation to avoid losing their David Anderson to prostate cancer, I’d deem it an effort worth making.

If this tale resonates and you feel like dropping $10 or whatever, in memory of a great friend and colleague, please go to my MoBro page and follow the prompts to donate.

With grateful thanks to Jon O’ Connor and the Lifetime Team and in anticipation to all those who support the cause.


PS - Early signs suggest the alarming presence of many grey bristles in the mo!!

David Whyte