It’s not Nuclear Physics: Pension Fund Chief Champions Ethics and Balance

CEO Matthew Eyton-Jones

CEO: Matthew Eyton-Jones

Matthew Eyton-Jones is the CEO of a pension fund with a difference: it provides benefits to the staff and fellows of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva.

That’s right, the same organisation which led the search for (and found) the elusive Higgs Boson particle in the Swiss-based Large Hadron Collider.

Eyton-Jones is not a nuclear physicist, however. His expertise lies elsewhere.

The CERN Pension Fund is a multi-asset investment portfolio with more than 7,500 members and beneficiaries, which makes pension payments in 48 countries. Eyton-Jones is a graduate of the Advanced Leadership Programme at Cambridge Judge Business School and the Investment Management Programme at London Business School.

He is also a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and the Chartered Insurance Institute. He has over 20 years’ experience in the pension fund, investment banking, and investment management sectors. His previous employers include Mercer Consulting, the Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and the John Lewis Partnership.

As well as being an experienced CEO, Eyton-Jones is also an investor and entrepreneur. His interests include public equity, private equity, venture capital, and angel investing.

He is currently an investor in CatchApp; the world’s fastest meeting scheduler. His entrepreneurial streak is evident in his work at the CERN Pension Fund, which recently invested in the renovation of a hotel that had been part of the fund’s property portfolio for some years.

When the previous tenant moved out, Eyton-Jones saw an opportunity. He partnered with a specialist real estate company to transform and enhance the hotel. “This was not only an excellent value-added investment opportunity for CERN,” he says, “but also a fascinating project with satisfyingly tangible results.”

Eyton-Jones joined CERN in 2015, becoming only the third CEO since the fund’s inception in 1955. He has responsibility for managing a CHF4.3bn (£3.36) portfolio invested in public equity, private equity, venture capital, fixed income, commercial real estate, hedge funds, timber, farmland, and money markets.

By 2017, he was ranked number sixth in the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute Public Investor 100 Rankings of the public investor executives. His career began in 1997, when he started work as a trainee on the underwriting floor at RoyalSunAlliance in Liverpool; at the time, he pulled in a salary of £7,500 a year.

Eyton-Jones is a member of the World Economic Forum Expert Network, a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, a Member of Chatham House, a Liveryman at the Worshipful Company of International Bankers, and a Freeman of the City of London.

He believes in giving something back to society and fostering opportunities for others, and has also served on the Alumni Council at Cambridge Judge Business School, as a board member at Villiers Park Educational Trust, and as a member of the Integrity Committee at the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment. He also spent several years serving in the Royal Navy Reserve and is a strong supporter of naval and maritime charities.

Unsurprisingly, Eyton-Jones believes in the value of ethical business practices, underwritten by a focus on good governance. Under his stewardship, the CERN Pension Fund has earned best-in-class ratings from its international peers. Part of that success has been improving gender balance, with 33 percent of the board— including the chair — and 60 percent of the staff comprised of women. The chief investment officer and chief operating officer are also female.

“Diversity and inclusion are crucial to good governance, along with ethical transparency and accountability,” Eyton-Jones says.

The scientists at CERN tend to make the headlines, but behind the scenes, Eyton-Jones and his staff are working hard to ensure everyone can count on a secure financial future.

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