BEHIND THE BUSINESS CARD: Swimming with sharks

Akber KhanAkber Khan talks about wanderlust, starting Al Rayan from scratch and meeting the world’s happiest people.

Name: Akber Khan.

Company and job title: 
Director, asset management group, Al Rayan Investment.

Previous company and job title:
Director, Equity Focus, Deutsche Bank.

How many years in the MENA region?
Fifteen in total, six on this stint.  

What do you consider to be your home town?

Educational background:
Karachi Grammar School, Dubai College, University College London.

First job in the funds industry:
My current one. 

What is the toughest challenge you’ve faced in your professional life and what made it so challenging?
At age 25 (as vice-president), being sent for 12 months from Deutsche Bank, London to Deutsche Bank, Frankfurt to work with the head of German equities and his deputies to improve the quality of the overall sell-side equity product (research, sales, sales trading, etc). Not only did I not speak German, I was younger than the summer interns in the Frankfurt office. 

What achievement in your job are you most proud of?
Having started from scratch and built a $1 billion asset management business at Al Rayan Investment, a little more than five years after launch of the first product.

What advice would you give to someone who is beginning their career in the funds industry?
It’s not as much about intelligence as common sense, intellectual creativity and hard work. 

If you could change one thing about the funds industry, what would it be?
Having investors who truly appreciate more than five years of consistent outperformance, rather than just worrying about the odd negative month. 

What is your greatest ambition in life and why?
To think of clever answers to questions like this.

What’s the best investment you’ve made and why:
Visiting more than 40 countries and over 100 cities. Being well travelled prevents me from applying a one-dimensional perspective to life. In money terms, buying an apartment in Doha many years ago. 

Tell us something about you that most people don’t know:
I love swimming with sharks (real sharks, not the thousands that lurk around the financial services industry).

Favourite country to visit for a holiday and why:
Iceland. Extraordinary landscape, geological wonder, the birthplace of Top Gear’s monster Hilux. And Icelanders are the happiest people in the world – obviously nothing to do with their historic isolation from everyone else on the planet. 

Favourite type of food and why:
Sushi. Healthy and delicious. 

Favourite book or film and why:
An atlas. To explore the world and plan our next getaway.  

Your house is burning. Your family is safe. You have time to rescue one object. What would it be and why?
Passport/ID (certainly not an electronic device).

©2015 funds global mena

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