Matthew Tack, an Australian accountant from PwC, was balancing books and tying-up deals at Anglo Pacific, a mine-financing firm in London that owns coal royalties in Australia.
He had taken a pay-cut to join the company, but as prices rocketed, Tack found himself finance director of a FTSE 250 company. He was working gangbusters, getting up most days to start work at two in the morning. To wind down at the end of the week he'd head to a French bistro near Oval cricket ground for a steak frites and a bottle of Chateauneuf de Pape. Still in his early thirties, Tack was one of the youngest finance directors in the industry.
Then in 2011, at the top of the market, Tack resigned and disappeared off the scene. Now, at the age of 40, he can be found picking apples in an orchard in Tasmania, a few miles north of Eggs and Bacon Bay. What happened? What was he thinking? And how does he view the
breakneck growth of the royalty market in the years since he left?
Tack has nothing but positive words for the mining industry. “I enjoyed it because I was learning something all of the time,” he says, taking a few minutes off from building fences to keep out wallabies. “Some of the more exotic cool stuff, like structured finance transactions, I used to enjoy that as well.”
But Tack couldn't switch off. “There was always something you couldn't get out of your head, whether it was the deal we were working on, or a company we'd invested in, or you're at year-end, you're in the middle of trying to reconcile your accounts, or doing a consolidation that's not balancing. It was pretty, I don't know, that side of things wasn't pleasant.”
He and his wife had a car accident in 2010 and decided to make a “a tree change.” They
moved to Australia and were “looking to maybe get some land”, but after gardening leave, Tack took a finance post and within a week was waking-up again at two am. “I just thought, you know what, I need to disconnect from that.”
They took a year-off to go travelling and scuba-diving. “One thing led to another and the next thing you know, we've got 32 hectares of ground and a full-time farm,” Tack says laughing. “We were off.”
Working outdoors every day for three years, he has gradually upgraded a derelict orchard into a working farm, rearing pigs, cattle and sheep. He sells apples to an organic cider business and sells pies and fresh-pressed juice at a local farmer's market. He has built a house in the orchard using trees that he has felled and milled onsite. His wife's polytunnel is pumping out tomatoes and the fridge is packed with sausages, eggs and cuts of lamb. Ducks...