The chairman and chief executive officer of private investment family office Fidia Holding talks to us about the asset classes he’s focussed on, what influences his investment decisions and how he spends his downtime.
A board of directors member for global governance consulting firm Morrow Sodali, president of US real-estate investment company PrinceGate Corporation and occasional rally driver, Italian-born Fabrizio Arengi Bentivoglio has worked across much of Europe, China, India and Latin America during his storied career. He now lives in New York, where he is the chairman and chief executive officer of his own family office private investment company Fidia Holding.
Where are you right now?
"I am at work at my desk in New York City."
Where would you rather be right now?
"Right here at work! Monday morning is a good day for me! But I do like art, so if I were not here I would like to be in London visiting art galleries. I would also like to be traveling and spending time with my kids – I don’t see them enough."
What do you do for a living?
"I manage my own single family office. We have a minority non-family partner, but we don't manage other people's money. We always say we have enough headaches with our own problems. We don't need somebody else's problems!"
What asset classes are you currently focused on?
"Like many family offices, we come from an operational business, we had a pharmaceutical company [Fidia Farmaceutici] that we sold 15 years ago. We tend to invest more directly in private equity, as opposed to funds. We had at a certain point portfolios, hedge funds and managed portfolios, now less so. Looking forward, I feel that with higher inflation coming, real estate at a fixed rate is a protective spot. We try to make investments that gives us some governance, some influence on our future."
What does a good working day look like for you?
"A good working day is one where I’m doing multiple things. The beauty of a family office is that you touch very many different areas… The management of the company, the manifold investments etc. For me, a good day is one where I’m very busy, meeting people and thinking and planning for the future."
What do you do in your downtime?
"I grew up racing and being around cars. My father raced and collected cars. I started when I got my driver's license. There was a point about six, seven years ago where I started again, racing rallies and then taking part in the World Rally Championship. The FIA, which is the federation for motorsports, this year introduced a world rally masters championship for the older people like me! So we can we compete with the professionals. I just did my first rally of the year, it went very well and I'm very happy."
What advice would you give to your younger self?
"I would say get specific very early on. Find a way to decide what you want to do, what you like to do and try to do it early on."
What influences your own investment decisions?
"You need to have passion about what you're doing. For example, certain industrial areas may attract you more or less, but if you don't have passion and curiosity it's difficult to do a deep dive. Today, I like to invest where I have some influence. I don’t have to have a majority, but an investment where I can influence the direction of the company. We had investments 30-odd years ago in very promising companies but I had zero interest other than what the CEO was telling me. Today, I wouldn't do that, because I like to be somewhat in control of my own future."
What has been your biggest career challenge to date?
"The biggest challenge in my current career, managing the family office is managing the family! I hear this from many other families too. I come from a very small family but that to me has been the biggest challenge, it has impacted decisions, the allocation on time resources and what we did or what we didn't do."
What keeps you awake at night?
"Making sure my children have the tools, the knowledge, the systems and not to make my mistakes. Making mistakes is a natural part of life, but it's also very important because you learn more from the mistakes than from the successes."
Fabrizio Arengi Bentivoglio will be appearing at the 18th Family Alternative Investment Forum at County Hall, London, from February 23-24, 2022. More details here.