(Pictured above: Katie Gilfillan, left, Ian Barnard, right)
Being the newest member of the team here at Citywire HQ I assume everywhere I go is new and ground-breaking – that I have gone where no pub clubber has gone before. It is not until I get back to the office that I realise this week’s location is actually classed as a firm favourite, writes Katie Gilfillan. The Punchbowl in Mayfair has been frequented, not once, not twice but three times! Guess I’ll take ‘original’ off my resume.
I, however, have something the previous pub clubbers did not. One of the founders of Capital Generation Partners (CapGen), Ian Barnard. His firm liked The Punchbowl so much that two of its partners became part owners. Now that’s commitment.
Before finding his calling running CapGen’s investment platform, I quickly discover that Barnard had a pretty diverse range of jobs.
In the year before university, he served as an army officer. After studying history at Oxford, a knee injury meant he was unable to return to his service and he found the finance industry piquing his interest.
‘I took my first job in corporate finance at Smith Barney, which later rolled into Citigroup,’ he says.
After a short stint there, Barnard joined the foreign office as a diplomat and spent the next 10 years dedicated to his career. He left before the second Gulf War broke out, coming full circle back to the world of finance.
‘I went to business school, then packed my suitcase and headed off to Geneva to work for a single family office. It was an incredible experience to see how well organised and efficient everything already was – a very slick machine.’
Catching the private office bug, it was here where he met Charlotte Thorne and Khaled Said. Together, they decided to go out on their own and co-founded Capital Generation Partners in 2007.
‘I left my previous role because I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to try something different and unless you risk making mistakes, you’re not really in the game.’
Our mains arrive, Barnard opting for cod with autumnal roasted pumpkin while I take a chance on the chicken and mushroom pie. As the glorious smells hit me I can already tell there won’t be mushroom for seconds.
CapGen has gone from three partners to a 40-strong team; an impressive feat. There must be some give and take when it comes to working closely with each other every day.
‘We treat each other as equal partners and have the utmost respect for each other,’ Barnard says. ‘We each play to our individual strengths in the business.
‘I don’t believe things will happen in a flash. Over time, lots of little things all build up. We know there are going to be driverless cars, we know technology will be advanced, however it all takes time, research and innovation.’
We discuss markets and how unexpected they can be. I wonder if there are times when Barnard has to deal with the unexpected. One moment immediately springs to his mind.
‘I was in Thailand on business during the Songkran festival. I was all packed, ready to go to the airport in my suit when all of a sudden this kid comes up with a water pistol and completely drenches me,’ he laughs. ‘It took me from Bangkok to London to stop having soggy underwear.’
Finishing off our mains Barnard muses: ‘My dad used to say you should always leave the table feeling a little bit hungry.’
Funny he should mention this just as we look over the dessert menu. Spoons at the ready, we finish off the sticky toffee pudding in record time. There’s always next time Barnard Snr.
GLASS HALF FULL:
That we have, and continue, to transform the lives of millions by innovation and productivity.
GLASS HALF EMPTY:
How quickly can we create a new social contract after the current unwinding.