Educated at Harvard University and Trinity College Dublin, Michael gained his PhD at London School of Economics where he was also a Visiting Professor. Originally a research scientist in aerospace (rocket science) and graphics, he created MundoCart, the first commercial, global digital map. He moved into the City in 1984 becoming a senior accountancy firm partner with Binder Hamlyn directing global consulting and worked for six years in the UK Ministry of Defence as Corporate Development Director for the Defence Evaluation & Research Agency. In 1994 he co-founded Z/Yen, the City of London's leading commercial think-tank and venture firm, to promote societal advance through better finance and technology. His clients are numerous financial firms, including virtually all global investment banks, as well as technology firms, governments, and policy-makers. He and Z/Yen created the renowned Global Financial Centres Index, as well as Taylor Wessing's Global Intellectual Property Index. Michael is non-executive director of AIM-listed Wishbone Gold plc, PCG Entertainment plc, and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service overseeing UK laboratories and quality standards.
In 2005 with the City of London Corporation and Gresham College, Michael started Long Finance, a research cooperative addressing the question "when would we know our financial system is working?" Long Finance has numerous publications, thousands of members, and initiated the London Accord, an agreement by investment researchers to work together on environmental, social and governance issues, now numbering over 65 financial firms. Michael's civic work includes serving as Emeritus Professor of Commerce & Trustee at Gresham College – the City's 'Tudor Open University'; Almoner for Christ's Hospital – the City's charitable boarding school; Council Member for City & Guilds; Trustee of Morden College; Advisory Council Member for the City of London Festival; and advisor to several other charities such as Council for Assisting Refugee Academics and Sea-Change Sailing Trust. Since 2013 he has been Alderman for Broad Street Ward in the City of London. Michael was British Computer Society Director of the Year in 2005, has won Farsight, Smart, and Technology Strategy Board awards for risk prediction systems, and was made a Gentiluomo of the Cavalieri di San Silvestro ('Don') in 2011.
Michael is Junior Warden, Worshipful Company of World Traders; Freeman, Watermen & Lightermen; and President of the Broad Street Ward Club (Chairman 2004-2005) and member of Lime Street Ward Club. Michael has written over 50 journal articles, 170 business articles and a few books. His humorous novel, Clean Business Cuisine: Now and Z/Yen, written with Ian Harris, was 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". His latest book, based on his Gresham College lectures from 2005 to 2009, also co-authored with Ian Harris, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, won the 2012 Independent Publisher Book Awards Finance, Investment & Economics Gold Prize. With an international family, Michael speaks English, German, French and Italian poorly, but even worse Chinese. He loves skiing, playing bagpipes and, with his wife Elisabeth, races and restores the Thames Sailing Barge Lady Daphne.