Stanley Fink learned the value of giving from his parents who while not wealthy, were always willing to help others less fortunate. When Stanley was a pupil at Manchester Grammar School, he volunteered at a youth centre. He also joined the fundraising committee for Rag Week at Cambridge University.
After gaining a law degree, Stanley qualified as a chartered accountant with Arthur Andersen and held positions at Mars and Citibank prior to joining Man Group, where he rose to become Chief Executive in 2000. He left Man Group earlier this year and after a two-month break, became Chief Executive of International Standard Asset Management (ISAM), a London-based commodities trader, specialising in gold markets. He wants to increase ISAM’s assets ten-fold over the next five years.
Stanley takes a similar approach to his social investments, ensuring maximum return. He splits his giving three ways. One third goes to education, one third to health and the other third is spread among academia and public policy, including Jewish causes. Crucial to his giving is ensuring that his money is well spent and that it will have a positive, measurable impact. He also looks for opportunities to become personally engaged with the charity, and to leverage his investment with additional funding.
He says: “I look for efficiency, projects that affect many lives at low cost. I like to invest in what I call ‘transformational’ charities.”
The biggest gift Stanley has ever given is £2m to ARK (Absolute Return for Kids) to fund Burlington Danes City Academy in White City in London. He also gave £500,000 when he was chair of a £10m appeal to help build The Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, the first new children’s hospital in London for 100 years.
He became a patron of the charity ARK, a collective philanthropy initiative supported predominantly by the European hedge fund community. He is now a trustee, driving their support for academy schools and their work in developing countries, helping companies to grow through micro-finance. ARK’s model is to maximise impact and ensure strong accountability.
Stanley is also a family trustee of the Prince of Wales Rainforest Foundation and a trustee of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, where he chairs its investment committee. He says, “We seek to generate income to support new ways to treat illness. This pioneering fund is a great way for the hospital to have an impact on public health.”
Longer term, Stanley wants to remain involved with many of the charities he supports, but to focus on fewer charities. He also enjoys making gifts as a family, and his children are getting more involved. “They must make a case to the family foundation, and last year they chose a local charity, a home for the blind, to support. It is rubbing off on them.”
As a trustee of the Mayor’s Fund for London, Stanley believes there should be more philanthropists in the City. “There is a moral imperative, when you have more than you need, that the rest of your wealth should be given to society. It is also morally uplifting if you give it, rather than the taxman taking it. It is enlightened self-interest.”
He is very aware of the disparity between the wealthiest and the poorest in society. “It is embarrassing that the wealthiest give only 1-3% of income. Tithing is the minimum the rich should do.”
Companies should also do more to encourage giving, such as by matching employee donations and supporting employee volunteering opportunities.
Whether you are giving time or money, Stanley is an advocate of being engaged in good causes. “Do everything with passion, and enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy it, then move on.”
He says it’s great to see the impact of your giving. “It’s fascinating to get outside of your everyday life and meet interesting people, from beneficiaries to celebrities.” He adds: “In life, the more I’ve given, the luckier I’ve got.”