The Charismatic Queen Bee

The buxom and beautiful Nicola Horlick has long been regarded as the City of London’s Queen Bee. She has worked in the fund management industry for over two decades and has participated in the growth of some of the UK’s premier asset management businesses, including Mercury Asset Management (now BlackRock), Morgan Grenfell Asset Management (now Aberdeen Asset Management) and helped establish Société Generale Asset Management (UK) as their CEO.

Horlick has certainly never been afraid of the limelight or the gossip columns for that matter. In 1997 she was head of Morgan Grenfell Asset Management when they were acquired by Deutsche Bank. She was suspended by her Frankfurt-based bosses out of fear that she would defect with her London team to a rival. Horlick flew to Germany with a clutch of journalists in tow to demand her job back. She failed. But became the business pages media darling when they realized that she was a mother of five and dubbed her “Superwoman” or “Supermum”.

She garnered headlines again at SG when veteran City financier Sir Mark Weinberg, questioned some of her funds performance. Horlick didn’t apologize and in the end it was Weinberg expressing regret. But if you live by the pen you also die by the pen and Horlick has suffered at the hands of journalists who turned her 2004 backtrack on moving to Australia to head AMP and the subsequent dissolution of her 19-year marriage into fodder for the gossip pages.

Last night I met her for a one-to-one chat at her Knightsbridge offices of Bramden Asset Management literally across the street from Harrods – where else? The office is modern with pale green and pink décor and a fish tank. The pink wall, I’m told by the charming receptionist was chosen by Horlick herself and is meant to be FT pink – promoting the ‘girl about the City’ image right down to the paint chips.

So what’s she like? Well my 6:30pm meeting was her 10th of the day as she is currently running a roadshow to promote her Bramden Alternatives Limited fund which is a hybrid fund of funds investing in hedge funds private equity and speciality investments including art etc. She talked a lot but mostly in the soundbites that we are all familiar with so I had to interrupt often to get below the plastic veneer that comes with spending far too much time with journalists.

She genuinely seemed surprised that I was interested in her fund and not her life story and applauded my brave questions with a slight lift of the left eyebrow. In the end I left with a slightly disappointed feeling because it wasn’t so much what she said but the way she said it. And that is something that is very difficult to translate into copy.
 
She is ultra confident and charismatic, a true leader that could convince you to follow her into battle or invest your life savings into her fund – whatever. That’s if you can stop staring at her perfect pink shade of lipstick for long enough to sign the paperwork.

For the full interview with Nicola Horlick check out the July/August of EVCJ out 1 July on www.evcj.com