Honorary Professor at Stellenbosch Business School, Ian Kilbride is a leading figure in the business of private client asset management. For over 30 years Kilbride has set many of the industry standards in this particular field. During the past three decades, he has established, and or developed, numerous asset and wealth management operations, as well as a number of successful philanthropic foundations.

These corporate entities include Warwick Wealth, Appleton, Cadiz, Starfunds.ai, Capita, Accorn, Palmyra, Fundstore and Pangbourne, all of which operate under the ownership of either Orion Investment Managers or Orion Wealth Managers. These two holding companies operate under Spirit Invest.

In memory of his late sister Louise and as an acknowledgement of South Africa’s new democracy in 1994, Kilbride established the Spirit Foundation. This has grown over the years to now act as the ‘philanthropic umbrella’ above three focused non-profit companies. These are the Spirit Education Foundation (SEF), the Spirit Wildlife Foundation (SWF) and the Spirit Community Foundation (SCF).

Born into a hard working family in Warrington, a town in the north of England, Kilbride attended Appleton Grammar School, achieving 10 ‘O’ levels and four ‘A’ levels. In 1981 he was awarded a place at Warwick University to read law. Warwick University is renowned for its Law School and for being the home of the UK’s leading MBA course. Graduating in 1984 with an honours degree and choosing not to pursue a career in law, Kilbride entered private client financial services in 1985. This was followed by a move into stock-broking and merchant banking from 1987 and then asset management from 1990.

With the historic unbanning of South African political organisations in 1990 and imbued with a growing passion for wildlife protection, Kilbride made the decision to leave the UK and embark on a journey that would see him literally drive out of London, travel across Europe and then down the entire length of Africa. This experience changed him in many ways, but importantly, allowed him to see first-hand the rich social and political tapestry of the African continent and its people. This direct exposure to the people of numerous regions and countries led to the realisation that the African continent had huge potential and reinforced within him the importance of education and community development. This would later lead to the establishment of the Spirit Education Foundation and the Spirit Community Foundation.

The journey through Africa also exposed him first-hand the majesty of the continent’s uniquely diverse wildlife, while observing how threatened it had become, especially due to urban expansion and the predatory and destructive threat of international organised poaching. The seeds were thus sown for the future launch of the Spirit Wildlife Foundation and his long-term commitment to rhino, elephant and lion conservation in their natural habitats.

Since 1990, Kilbride has been the Chairman, CEO and or director of listed companies on both the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE), as well as numerous private companies. Arriving in the ‘Mother City’ of Cape Town in July 1990 and applying his experiences, true grit and determination, Kilbride quickly established himself in South Africa. He formed new and exciting companies and entities that trained and produced great young talent. In the following years, he became founder and director of companies in five jurisdictions, namely: the United Kingdom, Isle of Man, Guernsey, Mauritius and South Africa. As a financial and technology entrepreneur and the builder of businesses in several different industries, he has gathered a great deal of experience which, in turn, is applied within both the corporate and philanthropic sides of the group.

With a strong belief in continual personal and professional development, Kilbride became a member of the South African Investment Analysts Society, a Fellow of the Institute of Directors and a member of the Financial Planning Institute. He served and chaired the original Legal and Compliance Committee of the ‘Fund Managers Association of South Africa’ (FMASA), being one of the association’s founding members in 1994. FMASA has since developed into what is now the ‘Association for Savings and Investment in South Africa’ (ASISA). Kilbride has also served as a Commissioner of Oaths in South Africa for the last twenty years and acts as a non-executive director to other companies and organisations.

Building an impressive portfolio of financial, fiduciary, property and technology businesses, has, in turn, allowed Kilbride to develop his philanthropic commitment – an intrinsic part of his personae. Operating with the African spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ (I am because we are), he continues to invest his time and energy in growing and developing the Spirit Foundation and its three focused siblings.

Since its foundation in 1994, the Spirit Education Foundation (SEF) has funded the high school education (Grade 8 – 12) and the ancillary needs of over 125 scholars and their families every year, with all beneficiaries coming from disadvantaged backgrounds. With the experience and a track record developed over four decades, SEF has developed a unique mentorship model that benefited literally thousands of young scholars benefit and develop into successful South African citizens. The Alumni of SEF are now involved in numerous aspects of South African life and in many varied professions. These range from astrophysics, nursing, medicine, education, engineering, teaching and numerous others. All SEF staff are qualified educationalists or were previously SEF scholars.

With the indelible emotional impression of Africa’s wildlife etched in his memory, Kilbride subsequently established the Spirit Wildlife Foundation (SWF) with the purpose of contributing to the survival and sustainability of the continent’s iconic species. To date, the SWF has achieved success in assisting with the survival of orphaned rhino and embarked on key programmes that support the protection of Africa’s dangerously threatened elephant and lion populations.

Mindful of his own working-class roots in the north of England, he has also established the Spirit Community Foundation (SCF). The aim is simply to support, in an active way, programmes that impact positively on working-class, disadvantaged or disabled communities, in both South Africa and the UK. In South Africa, SCF supports numerous local NGOs and charities, including The Big Issue, Hear in Africa, League of the Friends of the Blind (LOFOB), Jakes Gerwel School and others. As a fifth-generation Everton supporter, he became an early supporter of the EiTC (Everton in the Community) back in the 1990’s and more recently, the Everton Free School (EFS). The important work of both EiTC and EFS has received wide recognition for its remarkable achievements in its socially and economically depressed catchment area. SCF built a library for this community within EFS and is an active and committed supporter of the Everton Disability Teams and the Spirit-Everton Choir, which assists those with social and or mental health issues – a UK version of Ubuntu.

Kilbride’s hobbies are numerous and include many sports (although now principally as a spectator, rather than as a participant). He enjoys track days, classic car restoration, writing, painting, the study of local and international history, the collection of local art and enjoys studying all forms of politics. In January 2023, his numerous achievements were recognised by Stellenbosch Business School, when Kilbride was appointed as an Honorary Professor.

A committed family man, he has four successful children, three sons and a daughter, they are deeply loved and he is proud of their individual personalities and their determination to succeed and make a difference in their own unique and diverse ways.

Although he travels extensively to various parts of Africa and Europe, Cape Town and the Western Cape remain his true love. This is where Kilbride feels most at home, believing deeply and passionately, as he does, in the people and the future of South Africa.