Snow covered mountains

Working at Arbuthnot Latham –

Colleague profile: Hitting the heights for charity

Gregory Perdon is Co-Chief Investment Officer at Arbuthnot Latham. He shares his story of resilience and persistence, putting it all on the line for a worthy cause.

Published

8th December 2021

Category

I have always had a great interest in mountaineering. Perhaps it runs in the blood.  My French grandfather climbed Mont Blanc (4810m), my father did it, and so have I. 

It is a very special activity because it allows you to spend time in nature, to tune in to a series of specific and challenging tasks which tests your technique and mental resolve.  

This helps you switch off from the monotony of daily life.  I also believe it helps you think critically. 

A key ingredient to critical thinking is distance. When you’re high up a mountain, you are indeed far from everything. That gives you valuable perspective.

But to give the experience a little more meaning, every year I try to merge it with my other passion—charity fundraising. It is my life goal to raise $1 million for charitable causes; I am about 15% of the way there, so plenty to keep me busy into my sixties.

However, it is not only about the money. I am trying to encourage others to get involved with charitable work too, especially those in the City, givenour privileged position. 

It sends a strong message to your family, clients and colleagues. It lowers the bar for entry for people looking to get into charity fund raising and becomes a form of positive peer pressure, a force for good.

But with climbing and fund raising, there come disappointments... 

Gregory Perdon

The cancelled climb: Changing directions

It wasn’t just our QE talk at the London Stock Exchange that was cancelled due to COVID, but also the 2020 annual charity climb during which we were going to attempt to scale the fierce Zinalrothorn (4,221m) in Switzerland. We were very disappointed to postpone.

How do I generally cope with disappointment?  I hit the stationary bike for a good spin session. The sequence I do is 60 seconds (in the seat) at 7/10 effort, then 30 seconds at 10/10 effort (out of the seat), then 30 seconds recovery back in the seat and I repeat that sequence for 30 mins.  

I always feel better after a HIIT (high intensity interval training) session and find the neuroscience behind how endorphins work fascinating.

This year, I was keen to re-attempt the Zinalrothorn but it didn’t feel right traveling during the pandemic. We opted for something closer to home and drove up to Scotland instead.

 

Coping with change: attacking the Ben

We targeted the 800m Tower Ridge on Ben Nevis but nature had other plans. Extreme weather meant we ended up having to scale it another safer way. 

And boy was the weather terrible.  The winds were high, the visibility was poor (always a big risk when climbing) and the mountain was soaked in downpour.  We were so wet, every time I moved, I felt like my inner layers were being squeezed like a sponge. 

But of course, the feeling of raising £15,000 for good causes helped warm the spirits after a torrid day. I am always so impressed and humbled by the generosity of my friends and colleagues.

Climbing is like investment management

To be a great climber one needs to be meticulous, driven, good at route planning, improvisation and have a strong risk management mindset.  Interestingly, that’s not a million miles away from what it takes to be a great investor.  

Markets and mountains have a lot in common.  Economies and weather are both volatile, liquidity and conditions can be uncertain, central bank-speak and route-finding can be ambiguous. 
So, to counter these factors, one needs to rely on experience, training, proven frameworks and feedback.  I stress the latter because both mountains and markets give immediate feedback, and according to the neuroscientists, that’s one of the best ways to learn and improve. Traders will often test a market with a buy or sell-order just like a climber might gingerly test a snow bridge before crossing to see how the environment reacts.

Preparation is also key. I’ll always do a lot of prep for big climbs – a lot of training to be physically fit and reading to be mentally prepared. If you have done your homework, you feel more confident. Confidence is a crucial part of climbing and investing.

 

Gregory and companion during a mountain climb

Advice: getting into fundraising

I’ve done about eight of these charity challenges over the past 15 years and the first one was intimidating.  But I wanted to climb the Mont Blanc like my dad and grandad, so I decided to do it for charity.

My advice is to just go for it. Asking people to contribute is never easy, but the more you do it, the easier it gets. 

I would encourage people to start small when thinking of raising money for a charity It doesn’t need to be a big target – a couple of hundred pounds is a very honourable objective.  It sends a strong message, whether it’s walking for leukaemia, running a marathon, or climbing Mont Blanc – it all adds up and helps to make a big difference.

 


Further reading

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Coaching female runners

Tracey Stronghill is a Senior Commercial Banker based in our Exeter office. As a running coach, she spent much of 2021 empowering women through sport and suppoting those at the frontline of the COVID-19 battle.

 

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Helping society’s most vulnerable

Emily Bird (previously Jenkins), Private Banker, shares her journey volunteering for mental health service Shout 85258.

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My lockdown marathon

Dan Stevens is a Liquidity Manager based in our Exeter office. He decided to push himself to the limit and take on a lockdown marathon.

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