Edward Bonham-Carter: A worldly warning from the man who guides Jupiter

The Business Interview: The fund management star tells James Moore that overzealous regulation threatens the City's ability to generate wealth

Edward Bonham-Carter fixes me with a steely gaze. "Do you have household insurance?" he says firmly. The boss of Jupiter, city sage and scion of one of Britain's more famous families is pencil thin, not least because of his habit of cycling to work every day. He's an evangelical pedaller ("it's a good thing by almost every criteria") and he's less than impressed when he hears I don't usually wear any head protection on my Brompton.

"It's just like household insurance. You hope you'll never have to call on it, but you have it just in case. It's protection. If someone hits you... You feel like a dickhead for one day. Then you won't notice. Wear a helmet."

That's me told. Up until this time, Mr Bonham-Carter has been relatively relaxed. He comes in in his shirtsleeves, no tie. He looks a little tired, maybe. But perhaps it isn't that surprising – Jupiter recently presented its maiden results to the City following the company's return to the stock market, and this week it entered into the FTSE 250 index of Britain's second biggest companies.

In fact, under his watch Jupiter has increased its funds under management even during the recent turmoil when people were falling over themselves to withdraw their money from rivals. So an early entry into the FTSE 100 is a realistic aspiration.

But why float at all? Jupiter was motoring along very happily as a private company and its success could easily be put at risk if a larger company came along and tried to gobble it up – always a possibility for a public company. The spell under the wing of Germany's Commerzbank wasn't a particularly happy one, after all.

Largely it was, in Mr Bonham-Carter's words, to "clean up the balance sheet". The financing that helped him lead a management buyout from Commerzbank meant a 10 per cent interest rate on some of the debt – horribly expensive at a time of near zero interest rates.

However, it also meant staff could put a value on their shareholdings – and 95 per cent own shares. "I'm not saying we're the John Lewis Partnership but I do believe that equity ownership by staff in asset managers is a good thing both for employees and the clients. In this world where everyone is talking about remuneration, it's an appropriate thing. If we ask customers to entrust us with their savings then it is a good thing that our fund managers are invested in their own success."

As such, he is supportive generally of the remuneration reforms being pursued at the moment in response to the financial crisis – with bankers as well as fund managers increasingly being paid in the shares of the companies they work for, and bonuses subject to clawback if the work they do is shown up as poor in future years. "We've been doing that for years," Mr Bonham-Carter says.

He is, however, less supportive of other changes, not least the way companies like his are being treated like banks by regulators even though they don't have the same sort of credit risk: "The consequences (of the financial crisis) over the next few years are pretty anaemic growth as we get over the debt hangover. We are also undergoing re-regulation in the West. Some of it is justified but there is an element of shutting the barn door after the horse has bolted. And asset managers aren't banks. People don't take a credit risk with us. The shares are held with a separate nominee company."

While he might be a liberal, he is also against attempts to "rein in" the City of London. "People should recognise that the financial industry in London is world beating. It's right up there. You should back your strengths," he says. "The system had a real problem in the credit crunch and lessons need to be learned but you don't want to, in reaction, then destroy your competitive edge and there are a number of very good reasons why London is at the leading edge. We just need to be aware of that so things like tax and regulation don't give us a big competitive disadvantage."

Generally, though, he's a supporter of the Coalition. " I come from a Liberal family. It is exciting times for politics. I think the Coalition is going to hold together. At the top of the parties there is a meeting of minds. Inevitably there is going to be some much-needed pain and I'm pretty cautious on the economic outlook.

"The consumer is going to be under the cosh and money is being taken out of the economy. But the corporate sector is in very good health. I think they're heading in the right area economically. The key metric for me is what action is taken to encourage longer-term growth. You can't cut your way to growth. Politics is also about redistributing income but it should be remembered that you need to give people the incentive to grow the overall cake."

Mr Bonham-Carter is very different from his predecessor as Jupiter's head, John Duffield. He's more consensual and thoughtful. He's measured in his speech. But he still has strong views. As for Jupiter, it's more of the same. He won't be rushing out to do deals. "Jupiter's story has largely been one of evolution rather than revolution. It maybe a prejudice of mine, but this is a people business. People often miss that out in deal analysis. You can put the finances together and say if we put these businesses together we'll get this and that, but you shouldn't forget the fact that people have different cultures.

"Fund management like we do it, trying to beat the market, is not necessarily a scale business."

To Jupiter and beyond

* An old Harrovian who only managed a 2.2 at Manchester University, he's been on an upward curve ever since, joining Jupiter in 1994 after spells at Schroders and the Electra Investment Trust.

* A morning person who "leaps out of bed" to cook breakfast for the family but admits his culinary skills could do with some work. His family life is rather more conventional than that of his sister (Helena, the actress). Doesn't talk about her, but the two are close and see each other regularly.

* Life after Jupiter? "Living longer gives you the opportunity to do different things. The paradox is if you're in a challenging job you don't spend much time thinking about what you could be doing. But I'm not the sort to sit back and play golf when I retire. And I don't play golf."

* That "difficult" relationship with Jupiter founder John Duffield? "I don't mind John. I've got a lot to thank him for. I wouldn't be here if he hadn't left. I think that we should acknowledge credit where it's due."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£36000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, - 1 Year contract

£50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager Shared Services - Uxbridge, Stock...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Human Resource Officer and Executive Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join one of...

Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events business) - Central Manchester - £20K

£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant (Events busi...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'