Why Fink was a great Man manager

Legendary hedge fund manager Stanley Fink is finally hanging up his calculator and retiring from Man Group...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Stanley Fink, who in his seven years as CEO at Man turned an obscure trading business into the world’s biggest listed hedge fund manager, said today that in July he would step down as non-executive deputy chairman (the role he semi-retired into last year). ‘I have many commercial and philanthropic interests outside Man Group to which I am increasingly committed and I am eager to pursue these, and other new opportunities, more fully,’ he said today, ruling out very little indeed.

He’s certainly going out on a high: Man said today that its profits soared by 60% last year to $2bn, beating expectations yet again. Its total funds grew by another $4bn to $78bn, leading to a 21% jump in management fees, while its flagship fund AHL alone netted a return of $5.6bn. So much for all these hedge fund mangers getting their fingers burned by the credit crunch…

And although Fink took semi-retirement from the CEO role last year to move upstairs, he can still claim a lot of credit for these bumper returns. He’s spent the last 21 years with Man, becoming group FD and then head of investments before being appointed group CEO in 1996. During his time in the top job, assets under management grew from $5bn to over $70bn thanks to a series of acquisitions and clever bets – meaning that Man’s value increased from about £1bn to more than £8bn. No wonder his shareholders loved him.

Still, we can understand why he wants out now – after all, he needs to get a move on if he’s going to spend all the money this success has earned him. Previously the highest-paid CEO in the FTSE 100, he cashed in another £27m in shares last year to give his bank balance another timely boost. The good news is that he likes to give lots of this money away – he’s chairman of a group that’s trying to raise millions of pounds for a new children’s hospital, a fundraiser for Burlington Danes city academy school in London, and a trustee of hedge fund charity ARK (Absolute Return for Kids).

Less socially acceptable to some (albeit a dwindling minority, it seems) is his commitment to the Conservative Party – to whom he is one of the biggest donors. We suspect a good portion of his time will be spent helping the Tories get into government (he’s already been signed up by the Shadow Chancellor to work on a new environmental trading market). And if he has as much success with this as he did with Man Group, Gordon Brown might as well give up now...

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