The hedge fund boss tells David Hellier how he now has the time to put something back
When Lord Stanley Fink was chief executive of the publicly-quoted Man Group he says he spent at least one third of his time involved in investor relations, boardroom management and corporate governance.
Now he is still running a fund management business (ISAM), but it is in the private arena.
“Bizarrely, although I do lots of charity work and politics, I now spend as much time on business as I used to at Man,” he says now, six years on from leaving the alternative investment firm to head up ISAM. “I’ve got mixed feelings. I did find those other things enjoyable but sometimes it was frustrating it took so much time.”
An illness prompted Lord Fink to leave the high-pressure Man job in 2007 but he has been fortunate to have been in good health since, giving him the opportunity to diversify his interests.
He is former treasurer of the Conservative party and his charitable duties involve being a trustee of the well-known hedge fund charity Absolute Return for Kids (Ark).
He is also chair of the board of governors of the Burlington Danes Academy near White City, west London, and a trustee of the Mayor’s Fund for London, which focuses on providing opportunities for disadvantaged children.
When I met the man known affectionately as the godfather of the hedge fund industry yesterday morning he was proudly clutching a copy of a hard bound book containing photos of all of Team GB’s medal winners from last summer’s Olympics.
Lord Fink had been a supporter of Team GB in the run-up to the Olympics and had therefore been invited, along with his wife Barbara, to their headquarters during the games. After each medal was won, a picture taken by Getty Images was signed by the winning athlete.
At the end of it all, Lord Fink put in a bid for the collection of 65 photos with a view to having them publicly displayed. Last night, at a Mayor’s Fund reception also hosted by Lord Sebastian Coe, the man who so triumphantly led the organising of the Games last year, the exhibition of Lord Fink’s photos was unveiled.
“I want them to be used to encourage sport or education,” he says.
Postcards of the photos will be put on sale from today but as well as this the exhibition will be used to raise the profile of the Mayor’s Fund with more City institutions.
Lord Fink says the Mayor’s Fund’s mission is to intervene in disadvantaged children’s lives in London at a young age to give them a better chance to reach a higher educational level – making them more employable by the City’s financial and other institutions.
“The business community has been phenomenally supportive. There’s been banks like Barclays, Goldman Sachs and Santander who have supported the charity and offered help in mentoring.”
Lord Fink says he attends the House of Lords a couple of evenings a week when it is sitting, and that he is feeling a little more optimistic about the economy.
“People are still focusing on the pain and the job losses but one of my observations is that perception takes a little while to catch up with reality. If you look at large parts of the world there are signs that the recession is being put behind us.”
When it comes to bankers, he feels it strange that nobody begrudges a professional footballer or a singer earning millions of pounds a year when they would not endorse those sort of earnings for a banker who has made their employers huge profits. “It seems a strange set of values to me.”
In the meantime, Lord Fink is adamant his charitable work can change the life chances of a new generation of underprivileged youngsters.
“We want to be judged by measurements but sometimes if you work with children from as young as five there is a very delayed mark of success.”