The reforming City fund manager and broadcaster Alastair Ross Goobey, who has died aged 62, was the most powerful and articulate champion of good corporate governance within the financial establishment. He attacked "corporate greed", dismissed the idea of an international market for top executives to justify huge pay packages as "so much hooey", and explained that "we're not against people being paid well, but please can they earn it first".
His views became more widely known because of his appearances on radio and television. He was a panellist on seven series of BBC Radio 4's business quiz The Board Game; as a pundit, in March 2003 at the bottom of a market recession, he famously advised listeners of the Today programme to "fill their boots" because there had never been a better time to buy equities. But his insouciance could not disguise a steely determination to pioneer changes in corporate governance which are now taken for granted.
Ross Goobey made his reputation during his nine-year stint as chief executive of Hermes, managing the massive pension funds of BT and the Post Office - in total nearly 2% of the stockmarket. Soon after his appointment in 1993, he changed the organisation's name from PosTel, and began to develop his philosophy of activist shareholder management. His first target was directors' three-year contracts, which ensured huge payoffs if they were sacked. Hermes wrote to all FTSE chairmen pressing for shorter contracts; by 1996 the Greenbury report was suggesting the now standard 12 months. Separation of the roles of chairman and chief executive and greater disclosure were among other Ross Goobey proposals now accepted as routine in the City.
His philosophy was to press for change in underperforming companies, but also to give managements time to deliver. In 1999 he forced chief executive David Montgomery out of the Mirror Group, but in 1995 controversially backed the British Gas management at the time of the "snouts in the trough" row, when protesting shareholders turned up at the company AGM with a pig named after Cedric Brown, the chief executive whose massive pay and pensions boost had triggered allegations of "fat cat" businessmen. He was a member of the 1992 Goode committee on pension law which paved the way for legislation that brought in the minimum funding requirement.