The Hedge Funds Club Good Life Interviews – Part 5: Stefan Nilsson

Stefan Nilsson

Stefan Nilsson

In a new series of interviews, we are aiming to get under the skin of interesting people related to the hedge fund industry. The interviews focus on the people and the good life. In the spirit of social distancing, for part 5 in this series, Hedge Funds Club boss Stefan Nilsson interviewed himself in his home office in Roppongi, Tokyo.


From where and how do you get your daily general news updates?
I am a subscriber to the print edition of the Financial Times. I like the feel of having my news printed. I have a habit of ripping out articles I want to keep for follow up. I also watch BBC World News and some of the Japanese news shows as well as reading various news updates online. For more quality reads on various less time-sensitive topics, I subscribe to Monocle’s print magazine and newsletters. With Monocle, Tyler Brûlé has created something really good that I enjoy reading and he also throws some decent parties for very stylish Tokyo crowds.


What do you do to unwind on a weekend?
In normal times, I go to a lot of rock gigs in Tokyo and spend time at my second home on the coast. But in the current situation, I spend more time at home with my family. I read, write, listen to music and go for walks with my dog.


Can you name a great book you have recently read?
“The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson. It was recommended to me by both Hong Kong fashion designer and entrepreneur Audra Gordon, one of my former students on the Henley Executive Hedge Fund Program, and my friend Dirk Verbeuren, who is the current drummer in Megadeth. It’s a fantastic book about how we should stop trying to be positive all the time in order for us to become happier and better people.


What is your soundtrack of choice?
Rock music of all kinds. Often I put on old favourites such as The Ramones, Motörhead, KISS, Nazareth or Megadeth and sometimes newer things such as Hellsingland Underground, Lucifer, Imperial State Electric, Danko Jones or Bent Sea. I listen to a lot of new rock music as I write and publish music reviews on


What drink do you start the day with and what drink finishes it?
Coffee in the mornings. Nothing good happens before coffee. In the evenings there may be a glass of red wine if I’m lucky.


What gives you energy?
Coffee in the mornings. Proper rock music also energises me at any time. If I am at my second home, the sound of the sea is a great source of energy. Teaching is another thing that gives me energy. In recent years I have been fortunate enough to teach at world-class institutions such as Henley Business School and the University of Hong Kong. Teaching very smart students is challenging and energising.


How do you stay grounded and focused as a person in these turbulent and fast-changing times?
My wife, son and dog frequently remind me to stay focused and not let unnecessary things wind me up. When I need to think without distractions, I go for a swim at Tokyo American Club which is a private club near my home.


Can you name a terrific restaurant that you love?
There are a few. Meshiyacchan next to Zushi Marina in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan is a terrific local seafood restaurant that I often eat at. Il Bordello in Wapping in east London was one of my long-time favourite Italian restaurants, but I hear that the restaurant has moved in recent years and I don’t know what its status is now. Birkastans Pizzeria in Stockholm, Sweden! Nothing beats their enormous Swedish-style pizzas that my brother introduced me to many years ago. Ramen Jiro is a terrific ramen chain in Japan with enormous portions of ramen noodles, pork, chopped garlic, cabbage, bean sprouts and tonkotsu broth. Sadly the branch near my home closed down and thus my visits are less frequent.


What’s your favourite museum in the world?
My old home town London is probably the best museum city in the world. My favourites include the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum and the National Gallery. Here in Japan, the Hakone Open-Air Museum is splendid and so is the small Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. I have always liked museums. As a young lad, my grandfather took me to the Maritime Museum in Gothenburg, Sweden, which I loved.


Are you active on social media and what do you actually use it for?
Yes. Shameless self-promotion of my business projects on LinkedIn and some other social media for more private things such as sharing family photos.


Do you have any secret guilty pleasure that you are prepared to reveal here?
Blue cheese.


What kind of battle dress do you normally put on for work?
Occasionally I have to put on a suit and a tie for a meeting, but quite often my work uniform consists of chinos or shorts and a well-chosen rock band t-shirt. Sometimes combined with an Okinawan kariyushi shirt.


Do you celebrate your wins? If so, how?
Yes, I do. Mostly in small, personal and subtle ways. But if there are other people involved in the achievement, I try to celebrate more publicly and give recognition to the relevant team members.


What makes you happy?
Leading a good life. I no longer have any interest in trying to impress people in order to get ahead in a career and such. I am me and I can only be me because everyone else is already taken.