Shaper: Nicola Horlick

Show aired on 4th October 2014

Transcript of the show

Elliot Moss
That was California Soul from Marlena Shaw here on Jazz Shapers on Jazz FM with me, Elliot Moss. Thank you very much for joining me. Another edition of Jazz Shapers the place where you can hear the very best of the people who are shaping the world of jazz, soul and blues alongside their equivalents in the world of business; a business shaper. My business shaper today is the very well known Nicola Horlick of City fame, Super Woman fame and now the CEO of Money & Co a new crowd funding business as well as a few other chairmanships with other businesses which we will talk about. Lots coming up from Nicola very shortly. In addition to hearing from her, you will also be hearing from our programme partners at Mischon De Reya some words of advice for your business and as well as all of that that some brilliant music from the shapers of jazz, soul and blues, including Trombone Shorty, James Brown and this from Kairos 4tet and Omar.

That was Song for the Open Road from Kairos 4tet and Omar. Nicola Horlick is my business shaper today. She is as I said earlier the CEO of Money & Co, a new crowd funding platform. She is also very famous for being one of the most high profile women through the 80’s and the 90’s in the mean and evil world of the City. Nicola thank you very much for joining me.

Nicola Horlick
Thank you.

Elliot Moss
Tell me about how you managed to get into the City in the first place and why you wanted to?

Nicola Horlick
Well actually from the age of sort of five through to seventeen I was going to be an actress and I did huge amounts of drama and went to festivals and had lots of cups and trophies and stuff and when I was seventeen I had an audition at RADA but I also had a place at Oxford University and the principal of RADA said to me ‘I think you should take up your place at Oxford, do lots of acting and then come back’. So I went to Oxford, did lots of acting and somehow ended up in the City and I am really not sure to this day how that happened. I think it was partly that you know, we were Mrs Thatcher’s children, it was that generation. I went to Oxford in 1979 and everybody was walking around wearing you know, the boys were wearing corduroys and jackets and you know brown brogues and I was walking around wearing a tweed skirt and a cardigan and some pearls.

Elliot Moss
It was all very serious.

Nicola Horlick
Yes it was all very serious. Very different to the 60’s and the early 70’s I think and the City suddenly became a big thing and I just – I don’t normally get swept along on waves of enthusiasm created by other people but I did and so I decided to apply to some banks and I was very fortunate and got a job at what was regarded as the best merchant bank, Wahlberg’s at that time.

Elliot Moss
That is back in 1983?

Nicola Horlick
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Now just to stay on the acting for a minute because that is quite a move. Were you good? I mean you must have been pretty good if RADA were wanting you and if you were good, do you still – do you think that being good at acting has helped you through your career and everything else that you have had to manage in your life?

Nicola Horlick
Yes. I was told I was good and I think it did help me enormously because a lot of what I have to do is communicate and so because I was doing so much acting – I didn’t have pushy parents who made me do it, it was me who made me do it and I was able therefore to learn how to communicate in a way that didn’t necessarily mean that I needed lots of notes or power point presentations so you know I can stand up in front of two and a half thousand people at the NEC in Birmingham and speak without notes because I did so much drama when I was young and so I think it was extremely useful and it is something I look for actually on CV’s is to see if people have done drama, debating, things like that because a lot of what we do these days is about communication.

Elliot Moss
What would you say is the craft skill that has enabled you to do so well in your career and different elements of your career whether it is writing the book, which I want to talk about later, or whether it is the banking job or now running your own business?

Nicola Horlick
Well I think it is not so much a skill, I think enthusiasm is very important and I am very enthusiastic and I am also very much a glass half full rather than glass half empty person and I can always see the positive even in dire terrible situations and I think that has really helped me in life generally because I have had to deal with some pretty terrible situations and also in business but also I think you know, I think I have become better as a manager of people and managing my business since I became a mother. I became a mother pretty early on, I was only twenty five when I had my first child but you know managing people is very much like being a mother. It is about setting parameters and making things clear to people and helping them with their hopes and aspirations and giving them guidance and so I found that those twin roles worked really well together. That being a mother and managing lots of people worked really well together.

Elliot Moss
Stay with me to hear more from Nicola Horlick, my business shaper. You will be getting lots of insight from her over the course of the programme. Time for some music this is Dave Brubeck and Unsquare Dance.

That was Dave Brubeck with Unsquare Dance. Nicola Horlick is my business shaper City guru I suppose they call you now and famed for being called the superwoman of the City, the person, the mum as you were talking about in terms of management and also being incredibly successful in what you do. You talk and I don’t know if it is being humble or whether you are deciding to choose not to, you talk about enthusiasm as a craft skill. To be in the City in that environment one must be pretty tough I imagine and tenacious and indeed in your own career, you took on management of, I think it was more than Grand Filas at management many years ago and you kind of stood up to them. As you talk to other women now rather than just generally people that you manage anywhere else. Do you tell them to be tough? Do you say ‘come one, toughen up young woman or’ or is it not like that?

Nicola Horlick
I think that that is a personality thing. Some people are tough and some people aren’t and maybe that’s why a lot of woman don’t like working in the City. One thing that has actually really disappointed me is that over the thirty one years that I have been in the City I haven’t noticed that many more women there. There are at the lower levels but often by the time they get into their you know, late thirties, they’ve left and you know, had babies and not returned or gone off to do something else. A lot of them leave during trainee programmes, you know, I used to recruit equal numbers of men and women at graduate level and often most of the women had left after three years and gone off to do things like journalism and PR and things where they felt more comfortable, where there were more women and so that is actually something that is really sad. But I agree, I mean, you know, it is quite a difficult environment, it’s quite aggressive and you do need to be tenacious in order to survive but I think that is something that you are either born…

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Nicola Horlick
…to be like that or not.

Elliot Moss
And the book that you wrote ‘Can You Have It All?’ and that was in around ‘97/’98 after you had finished working at Morgan Grenfell. That book still people talk about that book and that is either a good thing because it was so memorable or a bad thing because as you said, things haven’t really moved on and in fact they’ve regressed a little bit. Can, I mean is the question still apt. It seems to be and it seems to be the answer seems to be ‘well it is pretty bloomin’ difficult’. Can you have it all, do you have it all?

Nicola Horlick
Well the reason that I entitled it ‘Can You Have It All?’ was because people used to refer to me in newspapers as the girl who had it all.

Elliot Moss
Yeah and you said ‘no, no, no’.

Nicola Horlick
Well no and they looked at me as being somebody who got to the top of my profession at a very early age, I became a director of a major bank when I was twenty eight and that was obviously very young and then I was running a major business for another bank at the age of thirty. You know and people looked at me and saw material possessions and wealth and cars that came from being so successful so young and thought I had it all and the reason I wrote that book and the reason that was the title was because that made me feel really angry because I had a child at that time who had Leukaemia and I didn’t know whether she was going to live or die and ultimately she died and I kept thinking why do people think I am the girl who has it all because I don’t have Georgie’s health and that’s the thing I want most in life and however successful I am and however much money I have, I am never going to be able to get that back and you know, so that made me really cross and irritated and really that book, I mean it does go into you know, the ins and outs of how I got to where I got in my career but in many ways it is the story of the little girl fighting for her life and at that stage she was still alive but a year later she was dead and you know, it just makes me cross when people focus on the brilliant career stuff because really is that relevant to anything?

Elliot Moss
Yeah and that’s interesting and I want to talk to you about that in the context of you becoming an entrepreneur or even if you are entrepreneurial then becoming an entrepreneur later on because I think it is absolutely the core of what is going on. We have got the latest travel coming up in a couple of minutes and before that, some words of wisdom from our program partners at Mishcon De Reya for your business.

You are listening to Jazz Shapers with me, Elliot Moss every Saturday morning 9.00am sharp here on Jazz FM, make sure you book your appointment early, you will get to hear me talking to some brilliant people who are shaping the world of business and have been doing so for a number of years and will do so hopefully in the years to come. My business shaper today is Nicola Horlick, aptly named or however you want to call it, a superwoman of the day but someone who quite rightly put the record straight and said ‘hold on a minute, I can have certain things but I haven’t got everything’ and I have been talking to her about that as well as how she has not just survived the City but has lived to tell the tale quite well. Tell me now, you know, you moved away from – you wrote your book, you kind of got it out in a way, you said that stuff, you’ve had personal tragedies, you talked about with your daughter and then many things happened through the early 2000 but I want to jump to now. You’ve really – you’ve created your own business for the first time, this is properly yours. What encouraged you to do that? Why was it – why was the time right?

Nicola Horlick
Well it was a long time ago now that I actually set up my original business; it was in 2004 so ten years ago.

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Nicola Horlick
And I had set up for a French Bank, SocGen a firm management business in London, they didn’t have anything strangely at the time and we, the management team, owned a big slug of that and I had sold it back to them and then they started interfering in what I was doing and I found that a bit irritating so I was actually going to go to Australia and run part of AMP’s business, the largest insurance company in Australia and I was going to take – the whole family was going to go for three to four years and I had given up my job at SocGen and I had taken the children out of their schools and we were about to exchange contracts on a house and then I found myself in an unexpected divorce situation so I couldn’t really, I didn’t think it was right to take my children that far away from their father so I had to do a bit of a U-turn on the whole thing which was really embarrassing and difficult and really hard to unravel and I then thought, well what I am going to do now is set up my own business because I had sort of done everything, I had got to the top of my profession so quickly I was really fortunate that I sort of felt that that was the right next move and there were people who were prepared to back me and so it was actually really very easy so I just said, right this is what I am going to do, some people said here’s some money, I put some money in myself, we got an office in Knightsbridge which was rather nicer than being in the City and we then set up in business and started and Sir Derek Higgs who had been one of my sort of City mentors through my career said he would be the chairman so Derek and I then set the business up together and got on with it.

Elliot Moss
And over those years, the first few years that it ran, had you encountered things that you never thought you’d encounter?

Nicola Horlick
Yeah I mean it is much more difficult running your own business especially in financial services.

Elliot Moss
And why is that?

Nicola Horlick
Well first of all you have all these regulatory controls and you know, you have to have certain amounts of regulatory capital and all that sort of thing so that makes it quite stressful. Also I think anyone who runs their own business and I am sure there are lots of people listening who do, knows that you can never forget about it. If you are working for a large organisation…

Elliot Moss
It’s not your problem.

Nicola Horlick
… you can go home on a Friday, have a lovely weekend and go back on a Monday and switch on again. But with your own business you literally never stop thinking about it so for the last ten years since I have been running my own businesses I never have any down time really and it is made worse by the fact that I have got a film business now which is in Los Angeles where they are eight hours behind us.

Elliot Moss
Perfect, you don’t have any time to do anything except work. We are going to hear lots more about how you are not managing that twenty four hour job or jobs that you now have. Time for some music. This is Vieux Carre from Trombone Shorty.

That was Trombone Short with Vieux Carre. I have been talking to Nicola Horlick about how there just aren’t enough hours in the day by the sounds of it and how you can’t leave your troubles or your thoughts behind. Ten years in the seasoned entrepreneur in you must know how to deal with that right? Must be, I mean you must somehow or other learn to switch off or are you actually quite happy not switching off?

Nicola Horlick
I think again it’s to do with character. I mean I am just – I am actually a naturally a very laid back person who can absorb probably more stress than the average person so it is really stressful doing what I am doing but I can cope with it and I am not naturally someone who needs, I mean I need sleep, I do actually – I do need to sleep between midnight and 6.00/6.30 in the morning.

Elliot Moss
So you need some.

Nicola Horlick
I need six to six and a half hours sleep.

Elliot Moss
Okay.

Nicola Horlick
I am not a three hour a night person.

Elliot Moss
No.

Nicola Horlick
But as long as I get that sleep and because I know I have got lots of people around me who are really supportive I can, I can deal with the stress. Also I have got three whippets who I stroke a lot and that makes me feel happy.

Elliot Moss
The whippets aren’t involved in the business too much though I am sure.

Nicola Horlick
No they are not although actually we were moving offices recently and something went slightly wrong because the new office wasn’t ready on time and so we ended up in my house with a whole bank of desks. I had to move everything out of the front of the house and we were there for quite a few weeks and the whippets loved it. Because they are very sociable.

Elliot Moss
Is your, is your management style and this is just, it is just purely going on instinct. Is it pretty, once people know you, they really see the real you. Are you quite guarded at first and then you, you know, you relax or are you much more what you see if what you get from day one?

Nicola Horlick
Yeah what you see is what you get. I am not guarded at all.

Elliot Moss
So it is just the straight read?

Nicola Horlick
No but I do get, everybody who meets me says ‘oh my goodness you are so different to how I imagined’ because they have an idea of what someone should be like if they work in the City I suppose, I don’t know.

Elliot Moss
And so how would they describe you? As a manager? You described yourself as quite maternal; you said that being a mother helped?

Nicola Horlick
Yeah.

Elliot Moss
Is that how they say or would they say ‘oh yeah right’.

Nicola Horlick
I am very caligat and I am very maternal.

Elliot Moss
Yeah.

Nicola Horlick
I am very team orientated, it’s a team approach. I am just the first amongst equals as far as I am concerned. Someone has to take overall decisions.

Elliot Moss
So eventually if Nicola says its got to be like that, its going to be like that.

Nicola Horlick
Yeah. If, if we can’t find a way through then someone has to make a decision and there are certain things yeah, it is very unusual though for me to have to impose something on my colleagues. We generally come to a decision and then it is implemented and I will say ‘right well here are all the pros and here are all the cons’ and then we decide and all through my career I have always been very keen on making sure that we look at both sides of any argument, whether it is looking at an investment because you know, a lot of people when they are looking at investments if they really want to do it, will say ‘these are all the reasons why you should buy it’ and I then say ‘and what are the reasons why we shouldn’t’ and you know, a lot of people will come to you with a very angled argument and I am very good at saying ‘let’s look at the pros and the cons’ and also I don’t – if I have a view and someone comes and puts a coherent argument as to why I might be wrong or I should change my mind.

Elliot Moss
You are malleable.

Nicola Horlick
I will say ‘you’re right; we should change our minds about this and not do it that way’.

Elliot Moss
Fantastic. We will have our final chat with Nicola plus play a track from James Brown; that’s after the latest traffic and travel here on Jazz FM.

That was The Boss, rather aptly from James Brown. Nicola Horlick is my business shaper just for a few more minutes. Your new venture is a crowd funding platform and crowd funding is becoming a little bit more trendy and people are talking about it as another way of raising funds. What interested you? Where did your antennae start to move around crowd funding and what’s the business really about now?

Nicola Horlick
Right so one of my other businesses is a private equity business and it has done really well and one of the things that I was hearing from companies over the last few years was it’s great we can get equity so we can get people to buy shares in our company but we are finding it rather more difficult to borrow money when we need to. The banks are being really difficult and so I thought that maybe it would be a good idea to set up a platform where individuals looking for a better return on their cash could basically lend to companies and cut out the bank because the bank is giving us all very derisory sums of interest on our cash, even if you have got it out there long-term, you know a lot of the time you are getting a half or three quarters of a percent which is nothing and then they are lending it to companies and charging them seven, eight, nine percent so what we are doing is basically cutting out the bank. So if a company borrows a eight percent then we get a fee of one percent and the lender gets seven percent. So not a half a percent or three quarters of a percent but seven percent and we are talking about very safe companies. I am not saying that nothing is ever going to go wrong but we’ve done very thorough due diligence and checks on the companies, they have to have been in business for at least three years, they must be profitable and we also take something called a debenture over the assets of the company which means that if something does go wrong, we are first in line. So this is actually a really good proposition in terms of giving savers a better return on their cash but it is also helping the British economy which is vital at this stage in our recovery.

Elliot Moss
So just before I ask you about your song choice. You wrote the book however long ago it was, fourteen years ago and the answer to the question was ‘well hold on a minute, I don’t have it all’. Are you happier now than you have ever been? Is that – or is it still, is it a work in progress? Are you only ever as happy as the day has gone calmly whether it is at home or in the office?

Nicola Horlick
I am naturally a happy person; I am not a sad person. I am really lucky in that respect but you know, as I said earlier, my daughter died and she was two when she got leukaemia and she died when she was twelve and that now is sixteen years ago so she is sort of frozen in time forever as a twelve year old and that is desperately tragic and something that you can never recovery from. Now it is not that I am breaking down every five minutes and sobbing. But in my heart I am you know, and there is this rawness and sadness and upset that will never go away and I know that Georgie would not want me to be moping around and whinging about it. She would want me to be getting on with it which is why I do. It is one of the reasons that I am strong is because I know she would want me to be and also I had to be there for my other five children, one of whom was born rather strangely I got pregnant a month after she died and so ten months after she died I had another baby. So I had to be strong. So you know the thing is am I happy? Yes I am happy. I am incredibly lucky; I have five wonderful children, a wonderful husband.

Elliot Moss
But there is a strain that’s never going…

Nicola Horlick
There’s a sadness.

Elliot Moss
Of course, absolutely. Just before I let you go Nicola, what is your song choice and why have you chosen it?

Nicola Horlick
Yeah well you know, I am talking here to lots of experts on Jazz and I am not an expert on Jazz and they are all going to throw up their hands in horror and say what a cliché but I am going to ask for Summertime with Ella Fitzgerald singing it because it’s beautiful.

Elliot Moss
Nicola, thank you very much for being my business shaper. This is your choice; it is Summertime from Ella Fitzgerald.

That was Summertime from Ella Fitzgerald, the song choice of my business shaper, Nicola Horlick. Super successful, one of the most successful people in business over the last thirty years. Perspective that ensured she never got too het up about what was going on in the business world and someone who is absolutely tenacious about what they want to achieve. Do join me again, same time, same place; that’s 9.00am next Saturday for another edition of Jazz Shapers. In the meantime stay with us coming up next here on Jazz FM, it’s Nigel Williams.

Nicola Horlick is the CEO Money & Co, Chairman Rockpool Investments LLP

Nicola read Jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford.  In 1983, she joined S.G. Warburg as a graduate trainee.  She worked with Leonard Licht, one of the leading fund managers in the City during the 1980s, and together, they built up the Specialist Equity team of what became Mercury Asset Management.  Nicola was appointed a director of Mercury in 1989.

In 1991, Nicola moved to Morgan Grenfell Asset Management and she was appointed Managing Director of the UK business in 1992.  Over the following five years, funds under management increased from £4 billion to £22 billion and Morgan Grenfell became recognised as one of the leading managers of UK pension funds.

In 1997, Nicola left Morgan Grenfell and set up SG Asset Management for the French bank, Société Générale.  The initial target for funds under management was £5 billion in five years.  This target was reached after two years and within three years, funds under management had reached £7 billion.

In 2004, Nicola set up Bramdean Asset Management LLP with Sir Derek Higgs and the business was launched at the beginning of 2005.  Bramdean ran a number of alternative investment mandates before selling the bulk of its business to Aberdeen Asset Management at the end of 2009.  Bramdean continued to create and structure innovative new investment vehicles, primarily for the film industry through Derby Street Films.  Nicola is also the Chairman of Rockpool Investments LLP, which raises private equity for companies, primarily using the Enterprise Investment Scheme.  The launch of Money & Co is a further attempt by Nicola to help small and medium enterprises in the UK access capital in order to grow.

Follow Nicola Horlick on Twitter @NicolaHorlick

“Managing people is very much like being a mother. It is about setting parameters and making things clear to people and helping them with their hopes and aspirations and giving them guidance…”

“One thing that has actually really disappointed me is that over the 31 years that I have been in the City, I haven’t noticed many more women there.”

“It is quite a difficult environment, it’s quite aggressive and you do need to be tenacious in order to survive…”

“People used to refer to me in newspapers as the girl who had it all. That made me really angry because I had a child at the time who had Leukaemia…”

“With your own business, you literally never stop thinking about it.”

“I have got three whippets who I stroke a lot and that makes me feel happy.”

“We were moving offices recently and something went slightly wrong because the new office wasn’t ready on time and so we ended up in my house with a whole bank of desks.”

“There is probably a four billion pound gap between what is being lent to small and medium sized enterprises in this country and what is needed.”

“Everyone who meets me says ‘oh my goodness you are so different to how I imagined’, because they have an idea of what someone should be like if they work in the City”