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THE BRIEFING Wealth management


‘MY ONLY CONDITION? NO REMUNERATION’


Michel de Carvalho has graced the silver screen, competed in the Olympics,


and is married to a billionaire heiress – yet still goes to work as a wealth manager. Alec Marsh asks him why


Michel de Carvalho, chairman of private wealth manager Capital Generation Partners, is wearing a casual shirt under a zipped jumper. He looks like a man on holiday. Visible in the background on our Zoom call are the wooden beams of what I discover is his home in St Moritz; an exotic mural halos his head. He kicks off in upbeat fashion: ‘I’ve just recovered from Covid,’ he declares. ‘So I’m very, very happy. It’s great!’ He and his wife Charlene de Carvalho-


Heineken, the billionaire owner of a 25 per cent controlling stake in the famous Dutch beer company, caught the virus when they went to Dubai by private jet (which they thought would be safer) from Zurich. ‘We all took PCR tests before each flight... and we got it from one of the crew,’ he explains. They are both through it, but passed it to their cook and ski-guide – not that that’s an issue. ‘They’re all thrilled because they feel that they’re now immune,’ adds de Carvalho. In childhood Michel de Carvalho, son of a


Brazilian diplomat, became a movie star and acted opposite Peter O’Toole and Omar Sharif in Lawrence of Arabia in 1962 when he was in his late teens. But then he dropped acting and went to Harvard, only to postpone his academic career when he ‘fell in to the British Olympic skiing team’. His parents weren’t amused: ‘I got cut off but luckily from the film money I had enough to survive on,’ he says. He went on to compete at three Winter Games in 1968, 1972 and 1976. He returned to Harvard and became an investment banker, rising to vice president of Citi Investment Bank and chairman of Citi Private Bank. But that was all before de Carvalho was invited by managing partner of CapGen, Khaled Said, to become its chairman. ‘My only condition of joining was that I


would never have any financial remuneration from CapGen,’ de Carvalho says. The job does come with perks, however. ‘I’m very grateful


to have a car park underneath Berkeley Square, right opposite Annabel’s, and an office.’ Besides, he says, as he approached the end of his two-decade tenure at Citi, he needed somewhere ‘to put’ his PA. Carvalho was appointed chairman of CapGen in 2018 and appears to have loved every minute. He tells me of his joy of getting up at 5am to fly to Malta with Saïd to take part in a 17-firm beauty parade for a major prospective client. ‘That’s not the sort of thing that most people do at my age,’ he says, ‘I found it unbelievably exciting.’ (They won, too.) ‘It’s a wonderful atmosphere,’ he says of the firm. ‘No client has ever left CapGen, that’s quite a record.’


It doesn’t help to


swan in and say: ‘Did you know my wife is a multi-billionaire?’


When Carvalho was at Citi he tells me he


was adamant about not ‘opening his address book’ to the bank or mixing his private and professional lives. ‘If you’re an investment banker it doesn’t help,’ he explains. ‘You’re dealing with CEOs of companies, you’re dealing with the Ministry of Finance in Sweden... it doesn’t help to swan in and say, “Did you know my wife is a multi-billionaire?”’ Yet as unpaid ambassador-in-chief for CapGen he must be worth his weight in gold. His family is now ‘the second biggest client of CapGen, having built that up over eight or nine years’, which is a significant endorsement. In a world often populated with grey suits and institutional twaddle, de Carvalho is a


straight-talking cruise missile of charisma. And then, of course, he’s an Olympian. ‘I bring the same competitive nature whether I’m standing at a start gate of a ski race, or a golf course, or in business – whether it’s Heineken or CapGen,’ he says. I ask if being a UHNW himself gives him a special ability to advise wealthy clients – of which CapGen has 22, along with $3 billion in AuM – and clearly it does. But he begins his answer by explaining some of the financial arrangements of his own family, the Heinekens. The family office in Amsterdam has money with five banks or wealth managers, including CapGen, of course, and Goldman, Citi and JP Morgan. Under his initiative, the family office produces a monthly financial report, accounted in euros and put together by an external consolidator, which details all the holdings at each institution. This is then shared between them so that each knows what the other is doing. ‘At the end of every month we can see the performance by each of the banks we work with, netted out for foreign exchange,’ he explains. ‘If we were in the office I would show you the report because that’s something I’m quite proud of having created,’ de Carvalho says, adding another gem: ‘We really make sure all the bankers, rather than the banks we deal with, behave as if they work in our family office.’ He also mentions an instruction that is given to all their financial partners: ‘Assume that every time you make a recommendation, we say “yes”.’ I wonder if, as someone at the top of the


wealth pyramid (the Sunday Times Rich List ranks him and his wife in ninth place, with their fortune thought to be north of £10 billion), he’s observed a change in society’s attitude to wealth and wealthy people? He says he hasn’t but is quick to explain that he and his wife have a low-key lifestyle (‘She and I drive Volkswagens’). They only take private jets,


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