Lucy Hyslop | Oct 7, 2013
Leaving the public sector seems to agree with Kevin Falcon, as he transfers his financial acumen and personal connections from politics to private investment.
Being out of the public realm suits Kevin Falcon, a fact that has him rather alarmed. After 12 years as MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale, the former minister in the B.C. Liberal cabinet—with portfolios including transportation and infrastructure—feels he has shed the stress of public service. He just didn’t realize how noticeable it would be.
“It’s amazing the number of people who say how much better I look,” he says, adding with a smile, “It’s frightening because I’m wondering just how bad I really looked in government.”
Falcon swapped Victoria for the mainland in May, when he took on his new role as executive vice-president of Anthem Capital Corp. The investment company, best known for its subsidiary, Anthem Properties, has interests in real estate, oil and gas, mining and consumer products. Since making the move, Falcon says, his wife, Jessica, says he’s “less distracted, more ‘around’” mentally when he’s at home in South Surrey.
As we lunch over tuna aburi at Vancouver’s Miku Restaurant, Falcon’s spritely manner belies his half-century. “That’s what having a young family does to you,” he says, bringing out his iPhone to show a video of giggling daughters: baby Jacqueline Rose and three-year-old Josephine. (At the time of his transition, Falcon made no secret of the fact that the girls, whom he calls “my Js,” were the reason he left politics.) Besides, he adds, now there’s more time for exercise—even if he’s more likely to be spotted cycling on a family trail these days than sporting his biking armour while shredding the North Shore mountains where he grew up. “I’m dialing back my extreme side now,” he says, laughing.
Falcon admits that his calling card as the B.C. government’s former deputy premier and finance minister, in a province with a Triple A credit rating, “doesn’t hurt” with his new responsibilities. He’s now tasked with raising new equity from individual investors for Anthem Properties real estate projects. “The objective is to scale up our real estate platform by expanding our development and income-property portfolio alongside our partner investors,” he says. Luckily, Falcon quips, “People know who I am so my phone calls get returned.”
Slipping into sound-bite mode, Falcon says he is optimistic about his new portfolio: he sees “light at the end of the tunnel” in the tough commodities market, and “a bit of a pulse” in Europe. As for investing, he notes another uptick, commenting that investors have overcome their post-recession caution: “Now it’s moved towards people being okay with their preservation of capital and now wanting a return.”
It’s well known that Falcon tipped his hat at Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher; in business he hails Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for their philanthropic efforts. “I do think at the end of the day, it’s not what you get, it’s what you give that really establishes the mark that you leave in the world,” he says.
Which undoubtedly includes public service, an arena Falcon is always likely to be linked with. Premier Christy Clark is, after all, a friend since their days in the late ’80s at SFU, where he was enrolled in political science. (He later studied at UBC Sauder School of Business’s executive program.) “I think I got the best possible scenario,” he says of stepping aside into private life and still seeing former colleagues being re-elected. “The business community was planning for an
NDP government so there’s still a giddiness that it didn’t happen. It’s kind of a nice, win-win situation.”
Kevin Falcon’s Favourites
1. “I spend a lot of time in coffee meetings and I like Caffè Artigiano (1101 West Pender St., Vancouver; caffeartigiano.com). I’m pretty plain Jane when it comes to ordering: latte or just black coffee with heated one-per-cent milk.”
2. “I think I’m representative of a growing number of people who try to eat healthily and look for places that give me options such as salads and salmon, like the Cactus Club (locations around B.C.; cactusclubcafe.com). Although I must admit, the owner, Richard Jaffray, is a friend of mine.”
3. “For entertaining, Gotham Steakhouse (615 Seymour St., Vancouver; gothamsteakhouse.com) just has amazing steaks and the wine selection is pretty good, too. That’s the kind of steak shop clients from London or New York generally love and enjoy being taken to.”