Michael Mainelli

Michael Mainelli

Michael Mainelli is Chairman of Z/Yen,[1] a commercial think-tank, which he co-founded in 1994. He is Emeritus Gresham Professor of Commerce and Fellow at Gresham College in London,[2] as well as a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.[3]

Michael Raymond Mainelli
Born 1958
Alma mater Harvard College
Trinity College Dublin
London School of Economics
Employer Z/Yen Group
Home town London


Gresham College Lecture Series

Professor Mainelli delivered and published a series of 28 free one-hour lectures on commerce at Gresham College in the City of London while serving as Mercers School Memorial Professor of Commerce from 2005 to 2009. The theme of his programme was “Society’s Commercial Choice - Risks and Rewards of Markets”. The lectures emphasised the proper functioning of markets in realising societal goals, and the obligation on society to try to use market forces wherever suitable, as opposed to unnecessary regulation, hidden subsidy or inappropriate taxation. During the public lectures he presented research on valuing sustainable certification and corporate social responsibility using risk/reward options,[4] applying measurement ranges to audit (Confidence Accounting),[5] developing standards markets,[6] liquidity estimation through supply-demand curve prediction,[7] and discerning the role of 'feedforward' in creating leptokurtic market outcomes.[8] During the series he made observations about sustainability,[9] market solutions to social problems,[10] risk,[11] the role of government,[12] the rising paradox of money as a positional good,[13] taxation,[14] long term discount rates,[15] intellectual property managed as an option,[16] corruption,[17] and lotteries as misery indicators.[18] The lecture series concluded by outlining a more general theory of commerce.[19] Professor Mainelli and the saxophonist John Harle interwove a collage from the lecture series with Benjamin Britten's music, "Metamorphoses: The Terrible Beauty of Change",[20] for the City of London Festival's June 2009 Sustain! programme.[21]

Michael continues to lecture and host symposia widely, including continuing lectures at Gresham College, where he has been introducing new concepts of money and the role of government, e.g. index linked carbon bonds.[22]

Wider Initiatives

In 2007 Michael, Z/Yen, Gresham College, the City of London Corporation and forty financial institutions launched the London Accord, the world's largest investment research cooperative into environmental, social and governance issues, publishing over 200 reports.[23] In 2007 Michael, Gresham College, Z/Yen and a group of interested and motivated individuals launched the Long Finance initiative. The aim is to promote discussion, research and education about finance and starts with the question: "When would we know our financial system is working?"[24] Long Finance holds numerous, mostly no cost, events for the public. Professor Mainelli delivered the AEA Technology Wolfson College Lecture at Oxford, "Financing Technology", in February 2010.[25] Professor Mainelli was a keynote speaker at Robert J. Rubinstein's TBLI Conference Europe in November 2010.[26]


Educated at Harvard College, Trinity College Dublin and the London School of Economics and Political Science, Professor Mainelli’s early scientific research in aerospace and computer graphics led to him starting Swiss companies in seismology, cartography and energy information from 1979 to 1984. After a post at Arthur Andersen from 1985 to 1987, Professor Mainelli spent seven years as a partner and board member of the accountancy firm BDO Binder Hamlyn from 1987 to 1994, now BDO International, directing global consulting projects. While co-founding Z/Yen Professor Mainelli served as Corporate Development Director of Europe's largest R&D organization (then the UK Ministry of Defence's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency, DERA, now largely QinetiQ and DSTL, the Defence Science & Technology Laboratory) leading to two privatisations. At Z/Yen Professor Mainelli created the Global Financial Centres Index, The London Accord, Long Finance, the Global Intellectual Property Index, the Farsight Award and other financial services initiatives. He conceived and produced the first complete digital map of the world in 1983, Mundocart, the 'Google Earth' equivalent of the 1980s, as well as the $20 million Geodat cartography project from 1980 to 1984.

Professor Mainelli won a 1996 Foresight Challenge award for visualising risk in the Financial Laboratory, a 2003 UK Smart Award for prediction software, and was 2004/2005 British Computer Society “Director of the Year”.[27] He is a qualified accountant (FCCA), computer specialist (MBCS, CITP), investment researcher (FSI) and management consultant (FIMC, CMC). Professor Mainelli is a non-executive Director of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service[28] (the UK’s national body for standards and laboratories) where he is a proponent for competitive standards markets, and Sirius Minerals plc (AIM-listed mining company). He is a Fellow and Trustee of Gresham College, the founding home of the Royal Society, which he terms "a Tudor Open University",[29] and a trustee of the International Fund for Animal Welfare[30] and Ocean Alliance. Michael was designated a Gentiluomo ("Don") in the Associazione Cavalieri di San Silvestro, in Rome in 2011. He has also held numerous advisory posts, for example Hitachi UK and HM Treasury.[31]


Professor Mainelli has published over 35 journal articles, over 100 commercial articles[32] and three books including the humorous risk/reward management novel, Clean Business Cuisine: Now and Z/Yen,[33] written with Ian Harris; a Sunday Times Book of the Week in 2000; Accountancy Age described it as “surprisingly funny considering it is written by a couple of accountants”.[34] Professor Mainelli's latest work has been a response to the credit crunch, The Road To Long Finance,[35] written with Bob Giffords and published by the Centre for the Study of Financial Innovation.

Wider Interests and Public Service

Michael Mainelli and his wife Elisabeth are heavily involved in the restoration of the Thames Sailing Barge S B Lady Daphne.[36] Aside from being the odd bagpiper at Burns Night dinners, current positions include:

  • Editorial Board, Journal of Strategic Change, John Wiley & Sons – London, England; 1990–present.
  • Trustee, Ocean Alliance/Whale Conservation Institute – Lincoln, Massachusetts; 1994–present.
  • Trustee, Thames Match (traditional sailing race since 1863) – Gravesend, England; 1999–present.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Business Strategy, Emerald Group – Bradford, England; 2004–present.
  • non-executive Director, United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UK’s sole accreditation body for certification, testing, inspection and calibration services) – Middlesex, England; 2005–present.
  • Principal Advisor, The London Accord – London, England; 2005–present.
  • Commissioner, London Waterways Commission of the Greater London Authority – London, England; 2006–present.
  • Trustee, IFAW – International Fund for Animal Welfare – Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts; 2007–present.
  • Principal Advisor, Long Finance - London, England; 2007–present.
  • Visiting Professor, London School of Economics – Department of Management Information Systems & Innovation Group – London, England; 2008–present.
  • Trustee, Gresham Council – London, England; 2008–present.
  • ACCA, Corporate Governance & Risk Management Committee – London, England; 2009–present.
  • President’s Committee, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics – London, England; 2009–present.
  • Almoner, Christ's Hospital - London, England; 2010–present.

Significant former positions include:

  • Member, Professional Services Global Competitiveness Group, HM Treasury – London, England, 2008-2009.
  • Advisory Board, City University, School of Informatics – London, England; 1999-2003.
  • Chief Scientist, The Financial £aboratory Club (LLP with Barclays, RoyalSunAlliance, London Stock Exchange, Silicon Graphics, City University, Ministry of Defence) – London, England; 1995-1998.




Gresham Lectures


  1. ^ zyen.com
  2. ^ Gresham College - Professor Michael Mainelli
  3. ^ LSE
  4. ^ "Take My Profits Please! Volatility Reduction And Ethics"
  5. ^ "Reforming Auditing - Radical Change Or Incremental Action?"
  6. ^ "Standards Markets: The Free Market Response To Regulation"
  7. ^ "Liquidity: Finance In Motion Or Evaporation?"
  8. ^ "Perceptions Rather The Rules: The (Mis)Behaviour of Markets"
  9. ^ "Is The Party Over? Sustainable Hopes"
  10. ^ "Save the World: A Commercial Break"
  11. ^ "Does Society Risk My Life Through Safety? The Perils Of Too Much Risk Aversion"
  12. ^ "Goldilocks Government And The Market: Not Too Little, Not Too Much, But Just Right"
  13. ^ "Fads And Fashions: If They Are So Bad, Why Are They So Rapidly Rich?
  14. ^ "Corporation Tax Or Income Tax: Which Is The Greatest Con?
  15. ^ "Stealing The Silver: How We Take From The Dispossessed, The Poor And Our Own Children"
  16. ^ "Enclosures Of The Mind: Governing The Intellectual Commons"
  17. ^ "What I Like About This Country Is That It Has A Nice Level Of Corruption!"
  18. ^ "Why Do People Play The Lottery? Make Up Your Mind"
  19. ^ "Commercial Philosophy: Science Or Religion?"
  20. ^ "Metamorphoses: The Terrible Beauty of Change"
  21. ^ Sustain!
  22. ^ Long Commerce: Transactions Across Time
  23. ^ http://www.london-accord.co.uk/
  24. ^ http://www.longfinance.net/
  25. ^ http://www.aeat.com/cms/financing-innovation-viewing-the-uk-from-a-global-perspective-2/
  26. ^ Link to TBLI conference link to Slides Link to biographic profile
  27. ^ http://www.bcs.org/server.php?show=nav.7567
  28. ^ http://www.ukas.com/about-accreditation/about-ukas/structure.asp
  29. ^ "Gresham College - A Short, Personal, Alternative History"
  30. ^ http://www.ifaw.org/Publications/Annual_reports/asset_upload_file759_55605.pdf
  31. ^ http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/press_27_09.htm
  32. ^ http://www.zyen.com/index.php/knowledge/articles-and-research.html
  33. ^ http://www.zyen.com/index.php/knowledge/books/551.html
  34. ^ http://www.accountancyage.com/accountancyage/takingstock/2039290/covers
  35. ^ http://www.zyen.com/index.php/knowledge/books/26.html
  36. ^ http://www.lady-daphne.co.uk/

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