Inextricably linked to the history of Grant Thornton South Africa, previously known as Kessel Feinstein, Julius Feinstein was a man who dedicated seventy-five years to our firm. He was a magnet whose energy and insights attracted the esteem and friendship of many of South Africa’s leading professionals and the giants of our country’s business world.
Such people include Liberty Life’s Donald Gordon and Sage’s Louis Shill as well as our firm’s successive national chairmen, namely Malcolm Segal, Ernest Mazansky and Leonard Brehm. Personally mentoring all of them, he nurtured their growth, influencing their respective careers as well as the family-like spirit that distinguishes our firm.
Julius Feinstein, formally addressed as Mr. Feinstein and fondly referred to as “JF” was an inspirational role model – revered for his wisdom, professional acumen and standards of client service. Yet he was a man, who despite his status was modest, patient and sincerely concerned about the wellbeing of others. His emphasis on integrity, responsibility, respect and compassion will always underpin our firm’s culture and values.” said Leonard Brehm, our former National Chairman.
A man with determination
Born in 1916 to Lithuanian immigrant parents, Julius Feinstein grew up in Johannesburg. After matriculating in 1933, the young Feinstein was determined to become a Chartered Accountant – a qualification which then took five years, with academic and practical training combined
He studied at the University of the Witwatersrand but did not start his articles simultaneously. The Great Depression impacted on the number of trainee positions available. Furthermore, his mind was set on joining one firm only. That being Isaacs & Kessel – a small but highly regarded firm which was established in 1920.
In 1933, the firm, Alder Isaacs, based in the Nederlandse Gebou in Johannesburg, consisted of merely two partners and Benjamin Kessel, six trainees (one of which was Julius Feinstein’s late brother) and two support staff.
At that time, the firm could not take on more trainees. However, after he spent a year doing odd jobs Isaacs & Kessel gave him the break he so desperately wanted. He joined the firm as an articled clerk on 2 January 1935, earning a salary of 4 pounds a month.
A man with talent
Feinstein qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1939.
In recognition of his achievements and commitment, Julius Feinstein was rapidly promoted. At just twenty-six, he was made partner.
Not only was he an astute accountant but he had a talent for building life-long relationships with new clients. These included the law firm, Edward Nathan and the Glazer Family, both of which are still our clients today. Ten years later, the firm honoured his contribution by renaming the firm, Isaacs, Kessel, Feinstein. In 1964, following the retirement and the death of Benjamin Kessel, Julius Feinstein became the firm’s most senior partner, a position he was to hold for nearly forty years.
A man with vision
Julius Feinstein was a visionary. He aspired to expand the firm’s presence nationally and growing its capabilities and client portfolio. He also realised that being linked to an international association with a global organization was an essential step.
With Julius Feinstein at the helm, these goals were achieved. He was instrumental in pioneering mergers with other independent firms in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria. He brought in more partners who offered a diverse spectrum of professional skills to a broad range of businesses, including listed companies. The result was: the formation of Kessel Feinstein South Africa – a firm reputed for its auditing and accounting professionalism, but also for its business advisory acumen. He also led the firm when it joined an international association.
In 1992, when celebrating his 50th anniversary as a partner, Julius Feinstein said, “I have never known another job. Leaving the profession never interested me. Being part of the firm’s growth has given me great satisfaction.”
Ten years later, having seen the fruition of his dreams for the firm, Julius Feinstein retired after 60 years as a partner but he remained on as a consultant.
Today, Grant Thornton South Africa employs over 871 people and has offices in Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Port Elizabeth and Pretoria.
A man of with a social conscience
Outside the firm, Julius Feinstein played numerous other roles. For fifteen years he was treasurer of the South African Friends of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In 1999, the University honoured his dedication by establishing the Julius Feinstein Chair of Accounting.
Furthermore, he was a member of the Special Court for Hearing Income Tax Appeals; and in 1997, former President Nelson Mandela appointed him a member of the Diamond Commission.
A family man
Despite his commitment to his career, Julius Feinstein was a family man, devoted to his late wife, Muriel; his children Melanie and Alan, their respective spouses Clifford and Miranda, his three grandsons and great-grandchildren. They were his pride and joy.
A man of culture
As a man who always cherished the finer things in life, he was a regular golfer until well into his eighties. He was also an avid reader, loved classical music, especially Russian violinist, David Oistrakh. His greatest passion was South African contemporary art. While modest about his collection, which includes works by William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Edoardo Villa, Deborah Bell and Derrick Nxumalo, it’s reputed to be an outstanding private representation of contemporary South African art.
Notes to editors
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About Grant Thornton South Africa
Grant Thornton South Africa is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). Grant Thornton South Africa was founded in 1920 (previously Kessel Feinstein). We are leaders in our chosen market, providing assurance, tax and specialist business advice to dynamic organisations – listed companies, large privately held businesses and private equity backed organisations.
We employ 933 people in South Africa with 100 partners and directors. Grant Thornton has a national presence with offices in Bloemfontein, Cape Town, Durban, George Johannesburg, Nelspruit, Port Elizabeth, Pretoria and Rustenburg. South Africa is a major force in Africa, alongside 20 member firms on the continent. We operate in Algeria, Botswana, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, Kenya, Libya, Mauritius, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe and are ideally positioned to facilitate clients’ expansion plans in these countries.
About Grant Thornton International Ltd
Grant Thornton is one of the world’s leading organisations of independent assurance, tax and advisory firms. These firms help dynamic organisations unlock their potential for growth by providing meaningful, forward looking advice. Proactive teams, led by approachable partners in these firms, use insights, experience and instinct to understand complex issues for privately owned, publicly listed and public sector clients and help them to find solutions.
More than 35,000 Grant Thornton people, across over 100 countries, are focused on making a difference to clients, colleagues and the communities in which we live and work.
Grant Thornton South Africa is a member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd (GTIL). GTIL and the member firms are not a worldwide partnership. Services are delivered by the member firms. GTIL and its member firms are not agents of, and do not obligate, one another and are not liable for one another’s acts or omissions.
Grant Thornton International Ltd. is the fastest growing global accountancy network and has recently been awarded 2013 'Network of the year’ by The International Accounting Bulletin (IAB). The International Accounting Bulletin awards are designed to celebrate accounting achievements over the past year by emphasising the individuals and businesses that have moved the industry forward. To win the ‘Network of the Year’ award, firms had to demonstrate strength across a number of key areas which included evidence of top-level network-wide audit quality, a strengthened position in strategically important markets and a strong industry leadership.