F. Peter Cundill 1938-2011 R.I.P.

Written by  //  January 29, 2011  //  Absent Friends  //  1 Comment

F. PETER CUNDILL FCA, CFA Philanthropist, sportsman, diarist and renowned global value investor.
Peter Cundill was born in Montreal in October 1938. He was educated at Lower Canada College where he made his mark on the football field and on the basketball team. He gained a Bachelor of Commerce degree from McGill University in 1960, after which he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and entered the investment business. In 1963 he began to keep the daily journal that he maintained for more than 40 years as he built and grew the Cundill Value Fund for which he became famous. Peter had what he called his ‘epiphany’ on a plane when he read about the value investment principles of Benjamin Graham. His comment was ‘THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE’ and he did, with a success that richly rewarded thousands of investors, not least those with small resources and precious savings. His record over 35 years as a global mutual fund manager was unrivalled. In 2001 he received the Analysts’ Choice Career Achievement Award in recognition of proven superior performance and his lifetime contribution to the financial community. At the Canadian Investment Awards ceremony he was introduced as ‘the Indiana Jones of Canadian Money Managers’ – an epithet in which he took great delight.
But Peter was in no sense one dimensional. He had a passion for physical challenges, running 22 marathons including a ‘sub 3’ when aged over 40, of which he was immensely proud. His interests were exceptionally wide ranging, springing from his insatiable curiosity, a characteristic which he regarded as a vital component in every aspect of life. He was a voracious reader and an inveterate traveller, once commenting ‘if I haven’t been on a plane for a week I begin to feel restless’. He was never happier than in a hotel suite where he could smoke his cigars and eat his favourite ‘junk’ foods (typically hot dogs with lashings of mustard and vanilla ice cream smothered in caramel sauce).
Although he lived in London for the past 20 years and loved that city he remained inordinately proud of being Canadian, profoundly interested in everything about his country. He relished nothing better than being among a gathering of Canadians with a bit of Montreal gossip, some Bay Street news and Vancouver views. His abiding passion for history and his belief that it is only possible to comprehend the present and arrive at a measured perspective about the future if one understands the past, led to his founding of The Cundill International Prize in History at McGill, the largest in the world. The Cundill Foundation, which now controls his very considerable wealth, has supported and will continue to support a wide range of charities as well as research projects and educational and enterprise gifts to young people.
In 2006 Peter was diagnosed with Fragile X Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome, an as yet untreatable neurological condition. As a result he retired from daily operational fund management in 2009, becoming Chairman Emeritus of Mackenzie Cundill. Nevertheless, far from giving up or wallowing in self-pity, Peter fully embraced the challenge of his condition with unwavering cheerfulness and a determination to lead as full a life as possible and to continue to guide and support all those within his wide reach in a personal and professional sense. His influence has been profound. He was very anxious to provide some legacy of his investment genius which might be useful to others and this culminated in the production of a book, There’s Always Something To Do — The Peter Cundill Investment Approach. To his immense delight the first copy was pressed into his hands in hospital two days before he died. It will be released at the end of February.
Peter was predeceased by his beloved wife, Joanie and is survived by his stepdaughter, Evelyn, two grandchildren, his stepson, Roger and his brother, Grier. He will be deeply missed by a large international circle of friends and all of his ex-colleagues and associates.
Following his wishes, Peter will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered in Quebec and British Columbia. Memorial services will be held in Vancouver, Toronto and London at dates to be announced. If you would like to make a donation in his memory, please consider the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation, www.worldclasshealthcare.ca
Condolences to [email protected]

MCGILL REPORTER
F. Peter Cundill 1938-2011
The following is an abbreviated version of a statement delivered on Feb. 2 in the Senate of Canada by the Honourable Michael A. Meighen on the passing of F. Peter Cundill. Senator Meighen has graciously allowed the Reporter to publish it.
With the death in London on Jan. 24, 2011, of Francis Peter Cundill, Canada lost one of her most remarkable individuals and the investment world lost one of its most distinguished and successful practitioners. And I, honourable Senators, lost a cherished friend of over 60 years.
Peter Cundill was born in Montréal and graduated from McGill University in 1960 with a Bachelor of Commerce. He became a chartered accountant and subsequently received his designation as a Chartered Financial Analyst. He worked in the investment business initially in Montreal before moving to Vancouver where he became President of AGF Investment Management and where, in 1974, he established his flagship Cundill Value Fund – a fund that made him famous and richly rewarded thousands of investors, not the least those with small resources and precious savings. A disciple of the legendary American economist and investor Benjamin Graham, he formed personal relationships with Sir John Templeton and Warren Buffett. Indeed the “Sage of Omaha” once observed that Cundill had the kind of credentials he was looking for in his search for his next chief investment officer.
Credited with having “shaken up the Canadian money management industry,” Peter Cundill’s record over 35 years as a global mutual fund manager was unrivalled and in 2001 earned him the Analysts’ Choice Career Achievement Award in recognition of proven superior performance and his lifetime contribution to the financial community. At the award ceremony, Peter was introduced as the “Indiana Jones of Canadian Money Managers” – an epithet in which he took great delight. His investment style was characterized by integrity and patience. At his annual general meeting in 1985 he astonished a packed hall when he cautioned them: “We are having a difficult time finding anything we want to buy. Don’t send me your money!”
But Peter Cundill was in no sense a one-dimensional man. Springing from his innate curiosity, his interests were eclectic. He was a voracious reader on a wide range of subjects, a faithful diarist, an inveterate traveller, a generous philanthropist and a devoted runner who completed 22 marathons including a “Sub 3 hour” when over 40. Peter relished sports and physical challenges of all kinds: tennis, handball, squash, rugby, skiing, hiking – Peter did them all with skill and enthusiasm.
The iron discipline employed in his investment career was generally replicated in his personal habits. Cigars? Yes, but only on Thursdays. Martinis? Only on Fridays But it did not extend to junk food and ice cream for which he had an irrepressible craving!
Peter had an abiding interest in history arising – some would say – from an examination that he failed at McGill in 1959. Traumatic though this experience was, the more likely cause was his belief that it is only possible to comprehend the present and arrive at a measured perspective about the future if we understand the past. As a result, in 2008, he founded The Cundill International Prize in History at McGill, the largest in the world, and designed to encourage the writing of history for a general audience.
In a cruel twist of fate for one who was a physical fitness devotee for almost 50 years, Peter was diagnosed in 2006 with an untreatable neurological condition. But not surprisingly for those who knew him, he never once complained or wallowed in self-pity. Rather, he embraced the challenge of his condition with unwavering cheerfulness and a determination to lead as full a life as possible.
His book entitled, There’s Always Something To Do: The Peter Cundill Investment Approach, will stand as his enduring legacy and, to his immense delight, he received the first copy just two days before his death.
While Peter Cundill has left us, his influence will continue to be felt for many years to come through his contributions to the financial world, to philanthropy and to the broader community. I feel fortunate to have known this unusual and extraordinary individual for as long and as well as I did.
Peter is survived by his step-daughter Evelyn, step-son Roger, as well as his brother Grier to whom I offer my most sincere sympathy.

MACKENZIE NEWS
Peter Cundill, 1938-2011
Mackenzie Investments is deeply saddened by the passing of one of Canada’s most successful investors.
A world-renowned investment manager and generous philanthropist, Peter Cundill was born in Montreal and graduated from McGill University in 1960. After building his reputation in business, in 1974 he formed Peter Cundill & Associates Ltd. and introduced his flagship mutual fund, the Cundill Value Fund. His deep value investment approach contributed to the financial success enjoyed by many thousands of investors over the years.
Peter’s strategy of buying securities at a discount to their inherent value has been synonymous with value investing for over 30 years – as he was often quoted as saying, “buying a dollar for fifty cents.”
In 1998, the firm he built entered into a strategic partnership with Mackenzie Investments to help offer his style of investing to the broader Canadian public. In 2001, he was presented the Canadian Investment Awards Analysts’ Choice Career Achievement award in recognition of proven superior performance and his lifetime contribution to the financial community.
Among Peter’s many charitable projects, in 2008 he put his name behind the prestigious Cundill International Prize and Lecture in History at McGill University. It is the world’s most important non-fiction historical literature prize. Peter was also well-known as an adventurer and athlete and set a yearly goal to challenge himself to do something extraordinary.
Peter also spent his career teaching and mentoring the team at Mackenzie Cundill on his investment philosophy and recipe for long-term success. Our relationship flourished and we continued to draw on his skill and experience until his move to Chairman Emeritus in 2009.
We are honoured to carry forward Peter’s name and his deep value investment philosophy for the continued benefit of investors, through Mackenzie Cundill mutual funds.

Prof. Diarmaid MacCulloch wins 2010 Cundill Prize in History
Diarmaid MacCulloch earns Grand Prize of $75,000 U.S.; runners-up receive $10,000 U.S. each
A History of Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years has earned Diarmaid MacCulloch the 2010 Cundill Prize in History at McGill University, the world’s most important non-fiction historical literature prize.
The announcement was made at a gala dinner at the Mount Royal Club in Montreal, Canada on Sunday night.
The prize was established in 2008 by McGill alumnus F. Peter Cundill. Mr. Cundill is Chairman Emeritus of Mackenzie Cundill. His career in investment management spans more than 40 years since he graduated from McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree in 1960. He is a Chartered Accountant (1963) and a Chartered Financial Analyst Charter Holder (1968). Throughout his career, Mr. Cundill has earned many distinctions. In December 2001, he was presented with the Analysts’ Choice Career Achievement Award as the greatest mutual fund manager of all time. A native of Montreal, he has lived in London, England, for the past 30 years.
more information ; photos

14 August 2006
Mackenzie investors are among the winners as Peter Cundill cashes in

One Comment on "F. Peter Cundill 1938-2011 R.I.P."

  1. Diana Thébaud Nicholson January 31, 2011 at 12:08 pm · Reply

    A delightful snapshot of Peter from a mutual childhood friend:
    “Peter was such a character! When he visited us in Kuala Lumpur, years ago, he was just getting the running bug – and starting to lose his hair; every day, my driver would take him to the Lake Gardens area where he would run five or six miles before being chauffeured home for tea. Those were the days.” David

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