Patient capital – is not long term enough


“I don’t like the term patient capital, that is not long term enough”

This line was spoken last night at dinner by legendary Scots investor Sir Angus Grossart.

He then noted that he is a long term investor and that he feels he thinks longer term than Warren Buffett.

I joked about this with him, wondering what quantum realm of time thinking he uses as such a relative youth (he is 82) to Warren Buffett (88) and Charlie Munger (95), when Buffett famously says: “Our favourite holding period is forever”, so I’m intrigued as to quite how long term Sir Angus is in his thinking!

This nugget of wisdom from Sir Angus was one of many I heard last night at a wonderful “focus dinner” run by Entrepreneurial Scotland with the theme of “Expanding Horizons”.

The speaker was Colin Robertson, recently appointed Chair of Entrepreneurial Scotland and CEO of Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL).

Alexander Dennis makes buses and coaches in Scotland. Though founded in the 19th century, a pivotal moment came in 2004 when they were rescued out of administration by a small group of Scottish investors, including Sir Angus Grossart.

In 2007, Colin Robertson was attracted to lead the business and, over the last ten years they have seen revenues more than treble and they now have over 50% of the UK market, with domestic and international expansion rapid and continuing.

This is an inspiring story at many levels and I look forward to learning more about Colin and ADL over time as a Scottish business success story to learn from.

I did, in the conversations with the group, pose one or two questions to Colin as to what a truly stretching vision for ADL might be (that could transformationally build upon their amazing success so far!). This very much fits in with my personal focus on supporting brave leaders with transformative visions.

Today, in reflecting on the dinner and conversations though, it is that theme of true patience (as in the quote from Imam Ali above) that truly resonates.

Bravery takes many forms.

In our “go-go” world so much is about speed, about rapid results, instant gratification.

Bravery in this world can therefore also choosing to be as patient as Sir Angus Grossart, or, dating back to the 7th century, to the First Imam, Ali ibn Abi Talib.

Today I shall muse on how someone like me, known for high energy, enthusiasm and entrepreneurial drive, can sometimes benefit from being even more patient when I already choose to be when I choose to be so!

Also published on Medium.