The 54-year-old wants more diversity in the fund. This means, among other things, a higher proportion of women. The job is urgent, he thinks.
– Must go fast
– If I do not completely fool myself, I will hopefully be able to continue for five years. I plan my life in five-year plans, it’s a perfect length. It is good not to have too long, then you can tell people that you have a little bad time. It has to go fast, and that’s good, says Tangen.
He says the proportion of women is 33 percent in the management group, 21 percent in the entire fund.
– In Europe, there is a 10 percent share of women among portfolio managers. Here we must work much more actively with recruitment and talent development. It is not just about women, but to increase diversity in general, says Tangen.
He has recently been appointed head of the Petroleum Fund, but several media storms and his large fortune have received most of the attention. A crash on electric scooter is also part of the story, but Nicolai Tangen does not regret taking the job as oil fund manager.
– It depends on what is important to you in life. I do not measure my life in money, but a bunch of other things, says Nicolai Tangen.
He is head of the Petroleum Fund, and receives more than NOK 6 million in annual salary for it. But for Nicolai Tangen, becoming a government employee meant a big loss. Now he will manage all Norwegians’ savings.
– I have no problem understanding that people are skeptical. But one of the important things when looking after oil money is that you know how to make money, says Tangen.
Superyacht and seminar
Kristiansanderen owns, among other things, a superyacht, the sailboat Nikata which is over 100 feet.
– I have a boat that got a little too big then. But I enjoy it a lot, or had much, before this job. Because now I do not have much time anymore, says Tangen.
Although he is known for spectacular seminars, it was Norges Bank’s cabin and not a superyacht when he gathered his new management team in the Oil Fund this week.
They are in the Norwegian high mountains, in stark contrast to the lavish and controversial the dream seminar. The revelation to VG was the start of a public debate and hearing in the Storting that almost cost him his job before he had started.
– Yes, Sting is not coming. But you know what? This is a kind of dream seminar part two. Quite different, but being allowed to be on the Norwegian mountains in Rondane with the group of people who I think are the best in the industry, is a kind of dream situation there too, says Tangen.
At the seminar at Venastul, they make the food themselves. NRK is in the kitchen when the Oljefond manager, who also has a cooking education, shows us how he roasts beef.
– Generally with roast, you should do as little as possible. In any case, do not turn it over more than once. Stir as little as possible. Just let it sit until it caramelizes properly before turning it over, he says.
Tangen eats pizza once a week and has already been to several of the capital’s pizza restaurants.
Chef, art and capital
The 54-year-old’s fortune is not due to his culinary skills or interest in art, but a talent for asset management. Precisely for this reason, he got the job of increasing the return on the fund that is now approaching eleven thousand billion.
Tangen is more concerned that he has worked hard and always been interested in learning, than that he has talent.
– I was quite introverted at first and was pretty lousy in sports. Then you compensate by working harder at school.
– You are described as good at school?
– Yes, but it was quite a lot of work as well. And then I did a lot of school politics and was a party general in Russia. I’ve had a little fun too, says Tangen.
His interest in art came after he was reluctantly “dragged around all the museums in Europe” by his mother.
– It is unbearable. But you know how it is with upbringing. When you pound enough, it goes into the cardboard in the end, says Tangen.
He is one of the world‘s largest art collectors, with what is referred to as the largest single collection in the world of Nordic modernism. But when he gave his hometown Kristiansand around 3,000 works to be exhibited in a new art silo, there was uproar. Critics believe Tangen secured an exceptional showroom, without sitting with the obligations.
When he was to become head of the Oil Fund, there was trouble again.
– I had never thought there would be so much noise, but I learned a bit from that noise at the time. You get a little immune and learn to stand in that storm a little, so it was actually pretty good training actually, says Tangen.
The children inherit nothing
He has master’s degrees in social psychology, economics and art history, but he is always looking to learn even more.
– One of the most important things in my life is learning. That’s how you keep your head going. Personally, I would rather have three or four master’s degrees than one doctorate. The more you can, the more exciting you have it as a human being. And then it is these synergies between subjects that are fascinating, says Tangen.
As the newly appointed top manager, Tangen stated at a press conference in March that he wanted a 100 percent inheritance tax. Even then there was a commotion.
– There was a commotion, and then I learned a lot. It came the first day, and I realized that I should not comment on something that can be interpreted politically, Tangen says.
He says the plan really only applied to his own children.
– Inheriting a lot of money I think is problematic. If you get something then and have a lot of money then it is not your profit. Then it’s just because you inherited a lot of money. And if you do not make it happen, well then you have really scratched it, says Tangen.
– Have you discussed this with your children?
– Yes, if they buy it one hundred percent I’m not sure. But they are smart kids and they understand what I mean. They get a good education, and shoes and that kind of thing, says Tangen.
Passers-by helped after the fall
He would rather give the money to “other great initiatives”, but Tangen admits that the Oil Fund job almost ended up being too expensive.
– If someone had said that I had to give away my company and redeem all the money or all the fund units and put them in the bank, I would not have applied for that job. Now I’m sitting here, and it’s a bit backwards into the bird box, says Tangen.
– Are you a bit of a peasant prisoner by central bank governor Øystein Olsen?
– No, I actually have not been. But I have become more keen on the job after I got to know the employees and learned more about what it was. I simply became more and more interested, and that was why I made the choice.
On the way to work on day number three, things went very wrong on the scooter.
– I have used these scooters every day. I think it’s an absolutely ingenious invention. It takes nine minutes from where I live and costs 37 kroner to rent. Then you should preferably not crash.
He slipped on a wet tram rail and slammed straight into the asphalt. Then it went to the emergency room.
– It feels a little small of course. But there were some nice passers-by who helped me up. Maybe not my proudest moment, says Tangen.
He says he will get up “on the horse again” again as soon as the shoulder is better.