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Bob Yerbury

Perpetual chief investment officer Bob Yerbury is a man with a huge weight of responsibility resting on his shoulders.

It is not the weighty burden Perpetual&#39s £8.3bn funds under management but the important task of caring for his son&#39s tamagotchi.

Yerbury junior, youngest of three children between 11 and 20, has just started at a boarding school where tamagotchis are banned. For those lucky folk who have never come across one, a tamagotchi is an electronic pet which virtually eats, sleeps and moves its (electronic) bowels.

As these creatures have swiftly become the scourge of schools by bleeping demandingly to be fed in the middle of lessons, the Yerbury tamagotchi has to be cared for by Yerbury senior.

Unfortunately, Yerbury, 51, is obviously better at managing money than he is at looking after the tamagotchi. Ever since he has started carrying it around in his pocket it has refused to wake up, which has probably been a blessing during the recent stockmarket turmoil.

Yerbury is relaxed about the market correction, having worked through both the 1973/74 and 1987 crashes.

He says: "I enjoy markets even when they are going horribly pear-shaped. I remember in 1987 thinking this is history and I wanted to experience it."

For the first week of the 1987 crash, Yerbury stayed at the office until the US market closed at 9pm. To get himself through it, he bought himself a bottle of 10-year-old McCallan whiskey and sat sipping it as global markets crashed.

At the end of the week there was just a small amount left, which stayed in the bottle on his desk for 10 years until he moved four weeks ago from being head of Perpetual&#39s American investment team to taking the role of CIO.

He says: "I finally throw out the bottle – and what happens? Global markets crash."

Yerbury started his career in financial services at Equity & Law in 1968, joining as an actuary after studying maths at Cambridge. But he escaped from the actuarial side after one year to move into investment.

He joined E&L&#39s US desk in 1972 and took over as desk head in 1975. But in 1983 he was approached by Perpetual founder Martin Arbib to run the fund manager&#39s US investment team.

Yerbury says: "When I went to Perpetual, the chief executive of Equity & Law called me in for my final persuade-me-to- stay interview and said to me &#39Yerbury – are you mad?&#39 There was I leaving a respected 100-year-old life office and joining this itsy-bitsy little company with £55m under management."

But Arbib had amused Yerbury at his interview by whipping through his CV and interests and then spending an hour-and-a-half picking his brain on US stocks.

"It was just that commitment to investment as opposed to procedures and all the other stuff. That is what happens with life offices and big companies. I hope Perpetual never gets like that. Part of my job is to ens ure that we preserve at least some element of entrepreneurial culture."

Yerbury&#39s colleagues say he is constantly pushing himself. He used to play squash until he had problems with his knees, so he now spends his time at the gym, working himself so hard that he frightens his fellow exercisers.

America fund manager Grant Cowley says: &#39I have never known anyone who is so self-motivated. He will never, ever accept second best from himself."

Does that mean he is a control freak? He says not. "When you feel helpless, as someone who likes being active and solving problems, when you feel incapable, that is frustrating. But I am not a control freak. I acknowledge that there are things you cannot influence. The Lex column, for example, talking about the value of the American market being too high. That annoys me."

To Yerbury, this "red mist" is an essential part of a fund manager&#39s make-up.

He believes that a good fund manager should not only have basic intelligence and analytical abilities but also an adrenalin-fuelled killer instinct.

He says: "You are used to being emotional about things at times as a fund manager. You control it but at times you have to give vent to it."

He admits to missing the highs of fund management in his new role.

"You don&#39t get that buzz, you don&#39t come home thinking &#39Yes! That was great today&#39… I do miss it. I thought when I started that I could still do a bit of fund management on the side but you can&#39t and the events of the last few weeks have proved that."

Yerbury believes there must always be somebody who stands aside from the day-to-day fund management and oversees the operation.

He says: "When you are managing money, you make a lot of decisions, none of which in isolation matters that much but collectively they do. Doing what I am doing now, I am making fewer decisions but they had better be right."

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