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The Kids of Business Icons: Joshua Fink


"Dad" may be one Wall Street's most powerful financiers, but that meant next to nothing when Fink Jr. launched his own fund.

Larry Fink, the president and CEO of asset-management juggernaut BlackRock (BLK), is often described in the halls of Wall Street and government as possibly the most powerful man in finance. His firm has become the backstop and manager for Washington's bailout of Wall Street, from the toxic assets of Bear Stearns (JPM) and AIG (AIG) to the balance sheets of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

Larry Fink's son, Josh, 32, has a long way to go, but so far he's followed in his father's footsteps. The eldest of three, Josh is the head of the hedge fund Enso Capital, which he started in 2002 with $50 million. As of 2008, the hedge fund was reported to be worth $700 million, though updated figures haven't been released.

A recent Vanity Fair profile of Larry Fink described the banker as "cautious and veiled" -- a natural position, it seems, for someone of his influence -- and, according to one friend, "obsessive" and almost "paranoid" about maintaining control. It appears his son is similarly guarded and secretive. Josh has never appeared in the press and, unlike other young financiers and despite his pedigree, he has remained exclusively out of the spotlight.

"I know his father and I'm friends with him, but with all due respect, Josh is someone who has really succeeded on his own," Dwight Anderson, head of hedge fund Ospraie Management and the younger Fink's boss from his days at Tiger investment Management told the New York Post in 2008. The article, with the headline "Chip Off the BlackRock," is the only time the younger Fink has been mentioned publicly.

"If you've never heard of the younger Fink before," the Post's Kaja Whitehouse wrote, "it's partly because he tries hard to stay under the radar, according to friends and associates."

These friends said Fink wants to build an independent reputation for his fledgling Madison Avenue hedge fund. They reported that, as of 2008, Enso Capital had been a steady performer over time, earning low double-digit returns. According to the firm's website, Enso invests primarily in the natural-resources industry, in particular, metals and mining, energy, and agriculture.

Before founding Enso in July 2002, Fink was a managing director at Argonaut Capital Management, where he served as both a portfolio manager and an analyst. Before that he worked at Tiger Investment Management and Morgan Stanley Asset Management (MS). He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

According to the Post, Fink jumped on the opportunity to raise money for a hedge fund after being approached by Goldman Sachs (GS). He brought in several friends and colleagues to work with him and rented an office. But he was in his early twenties and was turned away more often than not.

That kind of ambition is also part of Larry Fink's success story. A graduate of UCLA who grew up in Van Nuys, California, Larry was 23 when he first went to work on Wall Street in 1976. Unlike his son, Fink Sr. didn't have the pedigree for finance -- his father owned a shoe store and his mother was an English professor.

For Josh, however, his youth at first detracted from his pitch, and "despite several finance jobs under his belt he raised just $5 million -- far short of his $50 million goal," the Post said.

Even the elder Fink had doubts, apparently, and tried to dissuade his son. Larry eventually gave Josh seed money, though he stipulated he wanted to be paid back or the sum would come out of his son's inheritance, a source told the newspaper.

Although friends and associates have said that Josh is intent on crafting his own reputation, his father's shadow is bound to linger for a long time. After all, BlackRock directly manages $3.3 trillion in assets and supports another $9 trillion, including $1 trillion in pension and retirement funds for millions of Americans. It also oversees billions in university endowment funds and investments for philanthropic organizations. Without knowing it, many people in this country depend on the decisions of Larry Fink.
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