Britain’s new chancellor is the son-in-law of a billionaire and spent his formative years in the City of London at hedge funds and top US investment bank Goldman Sachs (GS).
Rishi Sunak was appointed Chancellor on Thursday after the surprise resignation of Sajid Javid midway through prime minister Boris Johnson’s first cabinet reshuffle. Sunak’s elevation to the Treasury’s top job represents a stunning rise, given he has never held a senior ministerial position before and only entered parliament five years ago.
Like his predecessor Javid, Sunak has a background in investment banking and high finance.
Sunak, 39, was born in 1980 in Southampton, the son of a GP and a pharmacist. He attended the elite private school Winchester College, where current fees are £41,709 ($54,294) per year, and went on to study Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) at Oxford. He later gained an MBA at Stanford University in the US while on a Fulbright Scholarship.
Sunak began his career at Goldman Sachs in London in the early 2000s, joining first as an intern and then getting a junior position in its investment banking division.
Sunak is believed to have then earned his MBA before moving to The Children’s Investment (TCI) Fund, one of London’s best known hedge funds. TCI was set up by billionaire Sir Chris Hohn in 2003 and today manages billions of pounds on behalf of clients from around the world. Recent records show the hedge fund made a pre-tax profit of £419m last year alone.
Sunak was a partner at TCI between 2006 and 2009. He likely earned millions during his time at TCI, which distributes profits each year between its partners. The hedge fund paid out £875m to around 20 partners during just two of the years Sunak was a partner.
The new Chancellor left TCI in 2009 to join the Theleme Fund, a breakaway hedge fund set up by one of TCI’s cofounders. He moved to California while on the job.
Sunak was also a director of Catamaran Ventures, an Indian venture capital fund owned by his father in law, billionaire Narayana Murthy. Murthy founded IT company Infosys and is worth an estimated $2.5bn (£1.9bn), according to Forbes.
“I have been fortunate to enjoy a successful business career,” Sunak wrote on his constituency website. “I co-founded a large investment firm, working with companies from Silicon Valley to Bangalore. Then I used that experience to help small and entrepreneurial British companies grow successfully.”
In 2015, Sunak left business to enter politics. He was elected to the constituency of Richmond, North Yorkshire, taking over from Tory grandee William Hague who was stepping down.
A Brexiteer, Sunak caught the eye of more senior colleague in 2016 when he authored a report arguing that free ports could create over 80,000 jobs and boost the economy of the North. By 2017, he was a private secretary at the Department of Business.
He was elevated to a junior ministerial position in the Housing, Communities, and Local Government department in 2018. His rising star status was cemented in 2019 when he was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury and was sent out to bat for the Tory Party in TV debates.
Even still, Sunak’s elevation to the second most powerful office in government represents a stunning elevation. At 39, he is the second youngest person to hold the office, behind George Osborne who entered Number 11 Downing Street aged 38.
“From working in my mum’s tiny chemist shop to my experience building large businesses, I have seen first-hand how politicians should support free enterprise and innovation to ensure our future prosperity,” Sunak wrote on his website.
While at Stanford, Sunak met his wife, Akshata Murthy. The pair have two young children, Krishna and Anoushka, and the family lives near Northallerton, North Yorkshire. A Hindu, Sunak enjoys cricket, football and movies.
A representative at Sunak’s constituency office declined to comment. The Treasury couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.