As the host of FOX Business Network's Varney & Company, longtime North Jersey resident Stuart Varney has a certain aptitude for helping his audience understand business, finance, and economic news through a comprehensive worldview.
Each day, Stu analyzes leading headlines to discuss how market swings and political or economic policy changes will impact viewers. Complicated topics, for sure, but Stu's warm and approachable manner infused with an engaging sense of humor makes serious issues interesting and understandable for all audiences—even those with little expertise in the subject matter.
Born and raised in England, Stu enrolled in Britain's Peace Corps when he was 18 and taught in Nairobi at a home for boys in need. "After I finished my year, I went to college in London," says Stu. "Upon finishing college, I wanted to travel. In order to raise the money I needed, I got a job as a bus conductor." Stu's acumen for numbers was put to the test one day when the British monetary system switched over to a decimal-based currency, requiring split-second fare transactional calculations to adhere to the new currency structure. "The day we transferred from the old money to the new money, it was absolute chaos. I'll never forget it."
Stu traveled around the world, ending up as a radio reporter in Hong Kong. He later moved to San Francisco in 1975 to pursue a career in television news. He was subsequently signed by Ted Turner in 1980, becoming the first person to broadcast from CNN's studios in New York City when the network launched. In 2007, Stu helped to create FOX Business Network.
Aside from hosting a daily show, Stu's life is not all stocks and tickers. He has six children and 10 grandchildren who are scattered worldwide, including a son in Australia, and one in New Zealand. "I have ten grandchildren--and I do hope for more," says Stu.
In contrast to the Wall Street persona, Stu has quite a bit of the American pioneer spirit flowing through his veins. Twenty years ago, he invested in a piece of land near Deposit, New York. "I was born and raised in England; it's a very small place—very crowded," says Stu. "America is vast—not crowded. I found that within 100 miles of home, I could buy a big chunk of forest…and that's what I did. Within a two-hour drive from northern New Jersey, there were 1,000 acres of forest for sale, so I bought it. Soon afterward, people approached me to log it. That was new to me; I just bought it as a nice place to go on the weekends."
Stu's business sense perked up when he realized his country retreat could also serve as a thriving business. He hired a forester to manage the land and has a tree farm that produces hardwoods for flooring and furniture. "We’ve converted a very nice country retreat into a money-making proposition. I kind of like that!”
Stu has three houses on the property, along with an assortment of John Deere Gators that seat four people for off-roading adventures. “There are 15 miles of trails that run through the forest,” he says, “and we have a terrific sled run in the winter. We sled down the hill and use the Gators to pull us back up to the top!
Stu appreciates the traditional values of bringing the family together to enjoy time at the farm. “For so many people, entertainment these days is screen-based. At the farm, it’s reality-based. You experience driving through the woods or use a chain saw to take down a real tree. It’s touchable, physical. Quite a revolution compared to what kids do today,” he says. Since a world-class collie breeder lives minutes away from the farm, Stu has added two dogs to his family “pack” as well.
As the 4th of July rolls around, Stu’s family commemorates Independence Day at their home in Cape Cod with a celebration that extends through his birthday on July 7. “We have a wonderful parade in town, and my grandchildren make drinks and cookies to sell on the side of the road as people go to the parade. All of the funds are donated to a local charity. We usually raise about $1,000!” says Stu.
The holiday brings out the special admiration and appreciation he has for his adoptive country. “I became an American citizen in 2015. It was deliberate. I wanted to join the ‘club.’ I’m one of those immigrants who really appreciates America,” says Stu. “Americans aren’t used to hearing immigrants describe them positively. We often hear negative comments, yet, America offers an opportunity for everyone in the most profound way. For example, the UK is a class-based society, and everyone knows you by your class. In America, it’s different. We don’t base things on class; people don’t care where you came from. All that matters is that you have the brains, drive, talent, and ability to do the job. That’s what counts in America.”
“I have my piece of the American dream—my tree farm. That’s where I go for rest, relaxation, and my spiritual life too. When you’re walking through the woods in the morning, you’re not thinking about money, Wall Street, or your job—and that’s what I love about it!”