How to throw the world’s greatest party: opulence, charity and trust

SOME people just don’t know how to retire. It’s three years since he stepped down as deputy chairman at Man Group, but Stanley Fink – Lord Fink since this January – shows no signs of slowing down. In 2008, the “godfather” of the hedge fund industry announced that he wanted to devote more time to his philanthropic interests; it seems he is pursuing that goal with exactly the same ambition that drove Man Group to become the world’s largest listed hedge fund firm. This September, he will be hosting the biggest private party the world has ever seen, in aid of a whole roster of transformational charities – and that’s just the beginning.

Fink leads by example, giving away approximately one third of his annual income across a wide range of good causes. But he is keen to encourage a greater culture of charitable giving among the very wealthy. He cites a Cass Business School study across three decades of household giving, which shows that the poorest 10 per cent of donors give 3.6 per cent of their total spending to charity, while the richest 10 per cent give just 1.1 per cent. “If that figure’s even partly true, I think it’s shameful.”

As he hastens to point out, the financial services industry has quite a strong charitable record, and he singles out both investment banks and hedge funds for special mention – he is himself a trustee and director, and was for a year chairman, of the most famous charity founded by hedge fund managers, Absolute Return for Kids (Ark). Still, he argues there are “pockets of wealth” in the UK and elsewhere that have been harder to reach.

That’s one reason for the Global Party, which should get some of the world’s wealthiest reaching deeper into their pockets, in return for entertainment of the grandest kind – and a very special silver key-ring that promises exclusive VIP privileges for life.

Inspired by Phileas Fogg’s fictional travels around the world in 80 days, the Global Party will unite some of the world’s greatest venues from Thursday 15 to Friday 16 September, in a party that circles the whole planet. Tickets are valid at all venues and while the venues vie with one another to throw the most tempting bash, there is a Global Party Challenge that will be won by the dedicated partiers who make their way to the most challenging array of venues while the party is running. For those content to travel at a more leisurely pace, the London party will kick off with a journey on the Orient Express – mirroring the start of Fogg’s great adventure.

The invitation to buy tickets is being sent to 90,000 select VIPs around the world, but others keen to support a good cause and join the fun can make a direct donation of £3,000 to one of the event’s chosen charities in return for a pair of tickets. With 5,000 pairs having been allocated to charities in this way, large sums should be going directly to good causes, an innovation that’s in keeping with the event’s cost-conscious ethos. Fink says that they have been “tweaking” the model to maximise the amount going to good causes and that “the cost ratios… compare very favourably to any self-run event that charities do”.

The charities involved are, like the event itself, truly global. The emphasis is on effectiveness, and Fink points to the opportunity for two charities better known in the UK for their work at home – Ark and the Duke of Edinburgh Awards – to showcase their transformational power worldwide. “In the UK, the Duke of Edinburgh works mostly with middle class children and 20/30 percent is with groups like young offenders and is truly transformational, but overseas the proportions are reversed and 80 per cent is completely transformational.” He reflects for a moment and adds, “when you see the effects on young people of growing up with difficult family circumstances, dysfunctional schools – life is tough enough for young people in this world, even if they start with advantages, and if they start with major disadvantages you really wonder how things are going to shape up. That’s why education and health can make so much difference. I believe in a world in which social mobility is possible, people can try hard and can earn a better quality of life for themselves and their families.”

And despite its scale, the Global Party is just the first step in Fink’s efforts to help build that better world. The successor party, in 2013, will involve not 80 venues but 360. He smiles, “doing the first one is the hardest. And in my life I’ve been privileged to work with good people I can trust. If you don’t trust relationships, if you insist on micromanaging, you can never operate across so many areas.”

And on that humane note, the interview is over. He is, after all, not just organising the world’s biggest party, but also has to fulfil his duties as chief executive of ISAM and as a member of the House of Lords, among a sheaf of other commitments. He is a man who wears his responsibilities and his conscience lightly, but no one should doubt the passion and energy this hedge fund titan is bringing to his latest projects.


Age: 54

Education: Manchester Grammar School; Trinity Hall, Cambridge (Law)

Family: Married, with three children

Title: Raised to the peerage as Baron Fink, of Northwood in the County of Middlesex, 2011

Career: He began his career as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen; after a stint at Citibank, he joined Man Group in 1987 and over twenty-one years helped build it into the largest listed hedge fund company in the world, rising to chief executive and deputy chairman; in 2008, he retired from Man and soon took on his current role as chief executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM); in 2009, he was appointed as co-treasurer of the Conservative Party and in 2010 lead treasurer, becoming a peer in 2011. He is a trustee and director of Absolute Return for Kids (Ark), where he was chairman from 2009-2010, and chairman of governors for Burlington Danes Academy, which he sponsored through Ark.