Numbers man who cut a smart figure

Sanford Yung, accountant, political figure and owner of celebrated racehorse Silver Lining, dies at the age of 86

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:56am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 November, 2013, 4:56am

Sanford Yung

Veteran accountant, political figure and racehorse owner Sanford Yung - the former chairman of Coopers & Lybrand Hong Kong which is now part of global accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers - has died aged 86.

A friend close to Yung's family said he had suffered from cancer for some years and died peacefully in his sleep last Thursday with his family by his side. There will be a funeral on Saturday but the family wants to keep it a quiet, private affair.

Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants president Susanna Chiu said Yung had been "very low profile, professional and a progressive role model" for the city's 35,000 accountants.

Yung's step-grandfather, Yung Wing, was China's first overseas student, and Yung himself was the first Chinese to train as a chartered accountant in Scotland.

Born in Hong Kong in 1927, he is also known as the owner of legendary galloper Silver Lining, the first local horse to win more than HK$1 million.

After Yung had finished his accountancy training, he returned to the city in the 1950s. In 1962, he set up Sanford Yung & Co, and three years later it became part of British firm Coopers & Lybrand.

Yung became chairman, holding the post until he retired in 1992. Six years later, the company merged with other firms to become PwC.

"Mr Yung was very keen on training and recruiting young talent," said Tim Lui Tim-leung, a senior adviser at PwC who was recruited by Yung in 1984.

Lui recalled Yung not only for his audit work but also his sense of style. "Mr Yung considered how one dressed important for a professional accountant. He had very good taste."

Former PwC partner Eddy Fong, who joined Yung's firm in the 1970s, said Yung had "excellent skill in analysing numbers".

"He had a good relationship with governments and clients, including Li & Fung. But he reminded us that besides keeping up client relationships, we must also maintain the integrity in our profession. He also encouraged us to do public duties."

Yung established a scholarship in 2001 to pay tuition fees for accounting students in Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai and arrange internships for them at PwC in London and New York.

He also played a role in preparations for Hong Kong's change of sovereignty as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee.

Democratic Party founding chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming, who worked closely with Yung on the committee, said he was perceived as a liberal among the pro-establishment camp. "He always wanted Hong Kong to have a bigger say," Lee said.

Yung bought Silver Lining for HK$50,000 in 1977 and the grey won numerous championships.

He once said that while he was "happy and proud" of the million-dollar horse's success, he often slept badly the night before a race, worrying that his star would break down under the "super weights" it had to carry of up to 69kg.