Sitting in a drawer in Richard Buxton's Islington home, there lies an unfinished thesis on John Milton's Paradise Lost. He'd packed in his first job in banking to return to Oxford to write it.
Well read: Old Mutual's Richard Buxton is a fan of classic literature
Sitting in a drawer in Richard Buxton's Islington home, there lies an unfinished thesis on John Milton's Paradise Lost.
He'd packed in his first job in banking to return to Oxford to write it, but quickly realised that finance had entered his bloodstream.
When he decided to quit a year later, his tutor, the esteemed literary don John Carey, told him he was welcome to come back any time and complete it. A glittering City career ensured he never did.
Buxton, 53, is chief executive of Old Mutual Global Investors, and alongside Neil Woodford is the UK's most renowned fund manager.
While the thesis has been gathering dust, he has been busily returning an impressive 86 per cent over the past decade, comfortably outperforming his peer group.
But if sweatshirt-wearing Woodford is an unfussy chunk of English cheddar, then elegantly coiffed Buxton is a more sophisticated slice of creamy Brie.
As well as his passion for 17th century English poetry, he's an opera buff, art lover and collector of paintings.
While his fellow stock pickers take home spreadsheets for their bedtime reading, Buxton prefers to immerse himself in classic novels.
Did I mention that he's also a gourmet chef? Friends say he's almost as proud of his salmon en croute as he is of his bulging £30billion portfolio.
That is not to say he is aloof – far from it. For all his fierce intellect, Buxton's a charming, approachable cove with a self-effacing sense of humour.
He's uncomfortable being described as a 'star manager', insisting his fund is a team effort, though admits the tag is rather hard to get away from.
His arrival at Old Mutual in 2013 from Schroders, where he'd risen to head of equities, was big news.
Old Mutual's then chief executive Julian Ide had been wooing him for some time. 'Wooed' is a polite way of putting it. Harassed might be more accurate. It had come to a point where Buxton told his PA to stop taking his calls.
He'd established a loyal following at Schroders and, when he relented to Ide's offer, it triggered a £1.5billion exodus from his fund.
Buxton is said to be almost as proud of his salmon en croute as he is of his bulging £30billion portfolio
Buxton favours a long-term, patient approach, usually sticking with a company for at least four years. Investment is an art rather than a science, he says, hence the benefit of his artistic background.
Before picking a stock, long hours are spent poring over a company's management, and he isn't afraid to speak out publicly about a firm he's invested in.
This week he hit out at excessive executive pay, while heaping praise on Lloyds chief Antonio Horta-Osorio for steering the bank back into private ownership.
Born in South London, his father worked at Coutts & Co. Buxton Snr had joined the Queen's bank aged just 15 and risen to head of branch banking. The next rung up was chief executive, and since that position was reserved for family members he took early retirement.
Richard chose to follow him into the City, landing a job after university with merchant bank Brown Shipley. Following that brief flirtation with academia, he joined Barings' UK equity team in 1990.
When Nick Leeson brought the bank crashing down five years later, Buxton was put in charge of the Baring UK Equity Fund. By the time Buxton left in 2002, the previously languishing fund was a top-quartile performer.
After spending 12 subsequent years at Schroders, he began to feel restless. He'd enjoyed his time there – it was where he met his second wife Sarah (he has two children from his first marriage) – but felt like a small cog in a giant wheel.
The bank had diversified into a spiralling behemoth and equities were barely 6pc of the business.
In Old Mutual, Buxton saw an opportunity to grow a business.
He's never regretted it. He loves the culture and having all his team on one floor. It's certainly been kind to him financially.
While he pays himself a £300,000 salary, analysts suggest his total pay package would likely be ten times that amount at least.
Old Mutual will be his last job, but he refuses to put a finite point on when he might retire.
Besides, the great thing about the fund management game is you get better with experience. Like Warren Buffett, Buxton doesn't rule out carrying on well into his advanced years.
If not, there's always that Milton thesis that needs finishing.
Read more at dailymail.co.uk