Wednesday, 19 October 2011

What do Christians, Conservatives and fat cats have in common?

Photo credit: Harry Metcalfe/Wikipedia

Tomorrow I’ll be interviewing Michael Farmer for Sorted magazine. Michael is an extremely successfully businessman, a Christian, a family man and a big supporter of the Conservative Party (although not necessarily in that order).

As the founder of RK Capital Management, Michael has become one of London’s best-paid fund managers. The company’s main fund, Red Kite, is one of the largest industrial metals hedge funds in the world.

Having left school at 18 and started out earning just £8 a week, the entrepreneur now ships around 15-20% of China's total copper supplies. And that’s a lot of copper. It’s no surprise he’s been nicknamed ‘Mr Copper’ by his peers.

But rather than becoming increasingly greedy after his success with his first company, MG Metals (and after helping to pick up the pieces of it once it was torn apart by Enron), Michael decided to take himself off to Bible School in Cornhill, London. I bet not many of his fellow fund managers have done that.

"The idea of a City financier who's a Christian is sometimes considered a contradiction in terms," Michael told The DailyTelegraph. With the animosity aimed at London’s financial community in recent years, I imagine he’s used to taking a bit of flak. But being a member of the “God Squad” (his words, not mine) is likely to have brought him double trouble.

And these aren’t the only controversies Michael is courting: he’s also responsible for donating £2.3 million to the Tory Party. He’s not one to make a song and dance about this, but he recently decided to defend his actions after hearing Lord Ashcroft criticise London financiers who he claimed were supporting political parties because they stood to gain from it.

"You can call me a City fat cat if you want, but I'm not giving away my hard-earned money for fun. I'm giving it away because I want to fund something I genuine believe: that Cameron and the Tories will be a far better government for the country than Labour," he says.

Having met with David Cameron to discuss the importance of family values, Michael feels the Prime Minister shares his concerns and is sincere about his intentions to preserve family life.

Conversely, Michael believes Labour is responsible for breaking down families; of describing the family unit as a Victorian concept. “Labour's idea of a family is three people who share a fridge," he says. However, as a Christian, husband and father of three, he truly understands the value of family life.

“I know that if things go wrong for me financially, I've got my family to fall back on. If I lost my job or savings, I'd talk to Jenny and we'd discuss belt-tightening, cutting debts, selling the house, whatever it would take to come out the other side. It'd be tough, but far easier together," he concludes.

Do you share Michael’s faith in Mr Cameron? Should the government be involved in family life? Is it right for Church and State should be linked at all? Feel free to leave comments and any question suggestions below. Be quick though – the interview starts at 10am GMT.

You can read the full story – with exclusive comment from Michael Farmer – in the next issue of Sorted magazine.

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