Cover Murray today in her Mid-Levels home (Photo: Affa Chan/Tatler Hong Kong)

Much ado about Murray

Some of us mellow as the years go by, but not Carol Murray: she is as bold and witty today as she was back in her 2000 interview with Tatler. Undeniably a member of Hong Kong’s most influential but “not a snob”, Carol’s charm, confidence and glamorous lifestyle have made her the subject of society pages for more than three decades. She looks back at her turn-of-the-millennium shoot and interview fondly. “I remember this day was very fun. My sister Jill and I were at the stock exchange in Hong Kong and we discussed my life as a stockbroker,” she says.

One of five famous Zimmern sisters, Murray has worked hard to uphold her family name while making her own mark in the world of finance. Her father, the late Francis Zimmern, chaired the Hong Kong Stock Exchange from 1972 to 1976—around the same time that Murray started on the trading floor. She would eventually grow to manage the family stockbroking and property firm Zimmerns.

Despite finance’s reputation as a stereotypically unforgiving and male-dominated industry, Murray ascended as a stockbroker in the Seventies thanks to a steely-minded work ethic that stemmed from her parents, who encouraged trust in gut feelings and self-reliance but also fairness in their daughters.

“I’ve always enjoyed total freedom of expression in my marriage and my husband and I controlled our own personal bank accounts, never needing to discuss purchases of stocks, art, clothing or accessories—only later when we purchased property together did we both jointly agree on it,” Murray says.

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The sudden passing of her beloved husband, Allan Murray, in 2016 due to a cerebral haemorrhage was a turning point. “It happened so quickly—within just a few hours. I think for a while I lived in a dream where I was just focused on organising donations of all his memorabilia to his good friends and the clubs he so loved.”

Although born out of tragic circumstances, the challenge of navigating life on her own has been embraced by Murray. “I’m learning new things like Putonghua, and reviving my bridge skills, becoming more open to socialising again and even just reading in peace and quiet and not having to clean up after my shopaholic husband,” she says.

In her early career, Murray looked up to business-oriented role models like Margaret Thatcher; now, she surrounds herself with other tough and passionate women, including her sisters. “We’re great friends. We often meet for Saturday lunches at the Hong Kong Country Club, talking shares, current affairs and any gossip around. We have similar interests, including finance, card games and tennis.”

Frequently described as the “queen of rings” by Tatler, Carol counts her jewellery collection as a major source of joy. “I love jewellery; my mother Helen has always been a collector and I have followed in her footsteps. Today, I often see new young Hong Kong designers and love to encourage them with my purchases. My hobby is buying rings and earrings in multicoloured designs that are quirky and unique.” Much like their owner.

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