Ian Anthony Taylor – Original punk rocker to City entrepreneur
Our Co-founder and former Chief Executive, Ian Taylor, died on 17th October 2022, aged only 58. Ian was a true pioneer and giant of the financial services industry. He was an entrepreneur who leaves a legacy of a transformed world for financial advisers and clients. He genuinely changed things for the better, during his working life. To us, he was also a much loved colleague and friend, who will be greatly missed, not least for his razor sharp sense of humour.
Ian was born in Southend in 1964 to Kate and Tony and was joined two years later by his brother James. Kate and Tony passed away in recent years. Ian attended Westcliff High School for Boys where he was soon identified as Highly Talented. His academic career was outstanding and Ian earned a place at Peterhouse College, Cambridge where he read English, graduating in 1985. Ian supplemented his student grant by working variously as a ride attendant at Peter Pan’s Playground, an assistant at an antiquarian bookshop and a DJ!
Ian met the love of his life, Frances, at Cambridge in 1983. They got engaged within a year and married in 1986.
His student escapades were many. After reading George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London Ian spent four days homeless in London and another adventure resulted in a bizarre hitch-hiking trip around Belgium and France. Fortunately, Kate and Tony remained oblivious to these events.
After graduating, Ian first tried his hand as a novelist but soon concluded that he preferred to use his analytical and commercial skills. He joined Royal Life Fund Management in 1987 where his sharp mind was spotted very quickly and he was soon promoted to a management role. After Royal he joined John Govett Investment Management as Marketing Manager, but on his very first day was promoted to Marketing Director! Only Ian Taylor could achieve that. He excelled in this role and stayed at John Govett for several years. Throughout this time Ian was a frequent contributor to the media and became a prominent figure in the City, known throughout the investment industry.
It was in 1999 that Ian met with Mike Howard and early in 2000 they launched Transact. The company began in two rented rooms above an Italian restaurant in the then distinctly untrendy Shoreditch. Ian later claimed to have been one of the first bearded people in that part of London. Mike says of Ian in those days, “He was larger than life. Almost literally. It was April, 1999 and we wouldn’t be open for business for another eleven months. It was the dot com boom. Freeserve (remember them?) was launched, listed and its share price went up every week. Everyone wanted to work with an internet start-up. It was in those days that we laid the foundations for Transact, including its name which Ian thought of. Before you’re actually a business, anything seems possible. In our case, it actually worked out that way”.
The success of Transact is legendary but it is rooted in simplicity, in helping advisers do a better job for their clients, harnessing advanced technology allied to human service. Ian once said that “people say it’s an online business, but it’s the offline stuff which is most difficult”. He strived to continually improve the service, whilst also continually reducing charges. He never lost sight of the fact that his ultimate customer was “Mrs Miggins”.
Ian saw Transact, as he did many things, through the lens of the music he loved. Comparing Transact to life companies trying to enter the platform space, he said “We weren’t a glam rock band trying to get into the punk rock scene – we were one of the original punk rock bands”.
Transact CEO, Jonathan Gunby, who worked closely with Ian, as friend and colleague, for over 30 years, remembers “Ian was the smartest and one of the funniest people I have ever met. I was privileged to have worked with him at the beginning and end of his career. We enjoyed a long and happy journey together.” IntegraFin CEO Alex Scott, who joined the business in 2009 said “From the first time I met Ian back in 1999, when Transact was being created, through the years of building a successful business, to the last time I saw him in retirement, Ian remained the same grounded individual, funny, erudite and generous in thought and deed. Ever the great raconteur, I will deeply miss his friendship and guidance, always best shared over beer and a curry.”
Transact and parent company IntegraFin continued to grow rapidly under Ian’s leadership and successfully IPO-ed on the London Stock Exchange main market in 2018. Ian continued as Chief Executive until March 2020 when he stepped back a little before fully retiring in 2021. He said at the time “I have had to live away from home for 22 years. So now I have to pay back some of that time I owe to my family” adding “We found the right people and decided the time was right for me to go and sit on the beach and have a cigar.”
In 2020/21 he and Frances restored a beautiful property in the quintessential English town of Stamford to pave the way for a different life. They were going to travel. Ian was going to spend even more time loving test cricket and heading to town for a beer and a curry with old mates. There was even talk of returning to the world of antiquarian books with a bookshop. But it wasn’t to be. Less than two years after stepping down as Chief Executive, illness struck and he died, peacefully, after a short illness. He is survived by his beloved wife Frances and three adult children Patrick, Elizabeth and Annie and we send our continued love and condolences to them. He remains close to so many of us at Transact and forever in our hearts. We’d like to think that he could rest in peace, but that wouldn’t be our Ian, industry visionary and original punk rocker.