Monday, December 15, 2008

Has the Media Made a Sexist Horlicks?

Nicola Horlick is not a happy woman. Remember her, the woman who said women could have it all? She is upset with the media for highlighting her losses in the Madoff scandal. She thinks it is sexist that she has been singled out and believes it is because she is female. She points out that her fund lost "only" £13 million, which is admittedly a trifling sum compared to others.

I suspect the truth may be different. If I edited a newspaper I too would have highlighted her losses. Not because she is a woman, but because she is one of the few people in finance that most people have ever heard of.

She got this unwelcome publicity because in the past she has made a career out of courting the media. And I'm afraid, as I have sometimes found to my own cost (yes, I'm talking about you, Richard Kay) you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Bleating about sexism may buy you a few more column inches, but it won't win you any sympathy.


Unknown said...

The Blessed Nicola has spent her career knocking up column inches - like she's the only woman who's ever held down a job. Some even manage it without a nanny.

However only she could turn a round a headline from saying 'Nicola Horlicks Blows Ten Percent of her Clients' Assets' into 'Nicola Horlicks Pans Us Regulator'.

Of course, lazy journalism has a lot to answer for as well.

Chris Paul said...

Lazy journalism yes, sexism yes absolutely, she had it coming yes maybe, but there is something completely off about naming people who are not outriders or exemplars but way back in the pack - actually doing better than most - and pretending they've cocked up to a notable extent. She hasn't. She's right about this.

Desperate Dan said...

While we're on the subject of sexism.... what are you doing advertising Russian mail order brides?

................................. said...

£13 million is a lot to lose out of the housekeeping kitty.

Shaun said...

One of her principle errors has been to set herself up as leading financial light and font of fiscal wisdom and then fall for a Ponzi (pyramid) scheme losing, well, ah, other people's money. Boo f*cking Hoo,

Alex said...

For an investment manager to lose anything to a Ponzi scheme shows them to be a bad investor.

To only have £130 million under management shows Horilick to be less well regarded than many of her contemporaries. Compare that with the zillions managed by Crispin Odey.

To lose 10% of the funds under management should be enough to kill of her career.

Horlick ran a fund of funds, being paid fees simply for picking other people to manage money and not really getting their hands dirty understanding the underlying investments (if they did that there would be no need to let the lower tier fund manager earn any fees. The fact that Horlick gave even a penny to Madoff without understanding his business (i.e. that there wasn't one) shows that she deserves any criticism that comes her way.

Madoff sounds like Michael Brown. I bet Horlick votes LibDem.

Unsworth said...

Horlick - "not a very happy woman"?

Was she ever?

Anonymous said...

I think Nicola Horlick is making a valid point.

"She said that the £13million lost by Bramdean Alternatives equated to just 0.13 per cent of the money managed by Bramdean Asset Management.

And she revealed she had received emails and phone calls from major City figures voicing their disgust at the way she had been singled out.

Ms Horlick said: "Between us we have made a lot of good decisions. Any suggestion that Bramdean is mortally wounded is way off. The fact that this man ran off with the money is hardly my fault."

She's right - it's hardly her fault.

Lola said...

Alex - quite. Funds of funds are a scheme for 'managers' to earn fees for doing what, exactly? Simple asset allocation strategies will achieve the same returns at a lower cost / risk ratio.

What really hacks me off is that the strategies we manage have not 'lost' (as in invested in ponzi schemes) any money at all. But what do we know eh? Small provincial investment business working on the simple basis that anything that looks too good to be true always is and keeping the costs down is No 1 priority.

Horlick is a brilliant self publicist (rather like Madoff in fact) and wins enviable mandates but as an investment manager she'd make a good camel jockey.

McSweeney said...

I think if you read the comments in the Standard you can see that she is pretty annoyed at the nature of the coverage. I don't think the sexist point is a particularly good one - she's been singled out because she's well known (albeit for being a mother...), unlike some faceless RBS boss - but the point about the poor reporting of the impact on her business is perfectly valid.

If you heard her on the Today programme you couldn't deny she had a good point about journalists not appreciating the full nature of the story.