Want to get ahead in fund management? Last night, Nicola Horlick shared the secrets of her success with assorted fund managers and analysts at a bash organised by the CFA Society of the UK. Here’s what she said, in distilled form:
Be assertive: As a trainee at SG Warburg, Horlick was asked to rotate around four different divisions. She wanted to stay in asset management and refused. SG insisted; she threatened to leave; Warburg’s acquiesced.
Make the occasional good call: At Warburg’s, under the patronage of über fund manager Leonard Licht, Horlick was party to two good moves: getting into retail funds and getting out of Japan – “We didn’t have to work for months after that.”
Don’t live in anyone’s shadow: Horlick left Licht and Warburg’s behind to go and work at Morgan Grenfell: “I was always going to be his bag carrier.”
Ask for stock: Before joining SG Asset Management, Horlick was invited to work in the asset management division of a large US investment bank. She turned them down: “They wouldn’t give us any stock. SocGen offered 30%.”
Start your career in a big house: Big players offer training and let you travel the world. Small ones probably don’t.
Work hard: Sadly there are no shortcuts to success: “It’s all about hard work.”
Start in research: Understanding accounts is crucial. By starting in research (and keeping your hand in) you’ll get an all important micro-view of the world.
Be creative: Horlick’s current investments include farm land in Brazil and a company producing music for films (the latter on the grounds that there are more TV stations than ever, each playing films which include music which earns a royalty).
Be passionate: “The very best fund managers have screens in the bedroom.”
Don’t become besotted with your ideas: “A lot of people are good at buying stocks. Not many are good at selling them.”
Academic qualifications aren’t everything: Peter Young, the rogue fund manager who ended up costing Morgan Grenfell 300m, had a first from Oxford. He had also previously passed the famous SG Warburg graphology test.