Robert Weil on how it all started: ‘My parents came to Sweden from Germany as immigrants at the end of the 1930s; I think they held a temporary residence permit, backed by some form of economic guarantee that meant they could stay.

The plan was to emigrate to Palestine, and in the mid-1930s, like many other Zionists, they started preparing for this by pursuing an agricultural education in Denmark. However, when Denmark was invaded by the Germans, they ended up in Sweden to work as farmers. Like many other Jewish people, they took refuge in Dalarna, where the Zionist Chalutz movements were based during the war years.

My parents’ families had been broken apart during the 1930s. My paternal grandfather was forced to leave his position as head of Deutsche Bank in Munich as well as a number of board positions for some of Germany’s largest businesses. He emigrated to the USA where a large part of our family already lived. My maternal grandparents, however, remained in Germany and were deported to a concentration camp where they were later murdered. We still do not know when and where this happened.

My parents ended up settling in Sweden. After the war, they moved from Dalarna to Stockholm and started a company that manufactured curtains. They created an income stream that enabled them to set aside money to fund my future university studies out in the world.

In the early 1960s, when I was 14 years old, I developed an interest in assessing large Swedish companies. I compared these assessments with the German businesses on whose boards my grandfather had served, and I found differences that I could not understand at first. The values of the Swedish companies were exceptionally low in relation to the German ones, not more than around 20% of their own capital. The explanation, which took me a while to figure out, was that our politicians, unions and capitalists protected our industrial capital through regulations that made it impossible for any international capital holders to invest in Sweden and gain control of our companies. With that observation, and despite my young age, I convinced my parents to allow me to invest my educational funds in the stock market. This capital made it possible for me to become an investor, with the hope that my observation would eventually bear fruit. Indeed, my evaluation was that the assessments of the Swedish corporations would become more similar to those on the international markets once the regulations ceased, a natural step in an open and growing global capital market.’