Former fund manager Nicola Horlick stopped investing in shares just before the credit crunch hit in 2007 and has not put a penny into the stock market since.
Horlick, 58, currently standing for Parliament as the Liberal Democrat candidate for Chelsea and Fulham in London, credits her entrepreneurial father with giving her the drive and self belief to succeed in life.
She lives in London with second husband Martin and has five children. As well as running her own money-lending business, Money&Co, she is a big supporter of cancer charities and Great Ormond Street Hospital in memory of her daughter Georgina, who died of leukaemia aged just 12.
Campaign trail: Nicola Horlick is now standing to be an MP for the Lib Dems
What did your parents teach you about money?
To be a saver even though I am not very cautious. I’m a risk-taker like my father. He was entrepreneurial. He took over the family import company when he was relatively young and grew it significantly from where it had been when my grandfather had been running it.
He diversified the business into building products – my mother was a qualified architect so she helped him a bit.
We were a well-off family but one has to remember that taxes were high in those days and my father was educating me and my brother privately. But I would say we were fortunate. My father used to say that his ambition in life was to maintain his standard of living – and that has always been my ambition too.
Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?
Luckily, I haven’t. Even while I was at Oxford University I ran my own business selling gas fires. I was born with entrepreneurial drive. I think I inherited it from my father.
When did you achieve your first big success in business?
When I was 21. I went to work for my father for a year after university. My job was to import a product from Canada.
It was a sugary substance – a by-product of paper-making – that I then had to sell to animal feed producers as a binder for animal feed pellets. I had to find containers to store the product in and firms to buy it. And I had to break into a market where there were already two big companies.
My salary was £6,000. During the course of that year, our turnover for that product went from nothing to £1million. So my father got pretty good value out of me for that £6,000 salary. He was extremely pleased as I recall.
The job also taught me a huge amount. I remember having my first meeting with two men from a shipping container company in Canada. I told them I had zero sales, but I would need lots of containers over the next year. And I remember they just looked at each other and rolled their eyes. But I became their favourite client.
Unlike those men, my father did not underestimate me. He always believed in me. That’s probably why I succeeded in life as a woman because he always told me I could do anything I wanted.
Money mistake: Horlick tried to build a house on a floodplain in Barnes, South West London
Have you ever been paid silly money?
Yes. I have had bonuses of £1million – many times my basic pay of £250,000. In the City you can earn large amounts of money when you are relatively young and when I was 28 I became a director for a major bank. I remember thinking I cannot believe I am being paid this much: half a million pounds – the equivalent of earning £1.2million today. I found that both amazing and frightening. I went on to earn well over £1million a year working for banks.
What was the best year of your financial life?
It was 2001. Four years previously, I had set up a fund management business for a French bank and in 2001 I sold my stake back to them. The business was worth £100million and so my stake was worth several million pounds.
What is the most expensive thing you bought for fun?
It was a necklace with a large topaz stone that I then had made into a pendant and hung on a string of pearls. It was not particularly expensive at £10,000, but it is beautiful.
What is your biggest money mistake?
I tried to build a house on a floodplain in Barnes, South West London. The year we were constructing the home it rained constantly and we had to buy huge pumps to get rid of the water in the basement. It was a nightmare and it took years to sort out. It was also a disaster financially. We sold it in 2014 when there was a lot of fear about the introduction of a mansion tax. Property prices dipped and I lost a lot of money: perhaps £1million.
The best money decision you have made?
Setting up Money&Co. I have personally invested large amounts of money in it and it is doing well. It allows individuals to lend money to good quality British companies, offering a better yield than cash to individuals and enabling companies that need money to grow and employ more people.
On average, since we started lending in 2013, investors have received an annual income of 7.3 per cent – tax-free if wrapped in an Isa. We’ve got a low bad debt rate and I expect it will be the most successful business I have ever built. I think it will be worth several hundred million pounds one day.
Horlick set up Money&Co, which allows individuals to lend money to good quality British firms
Do you save into a pension?
In the past yes, but due to the £1,055,000 cap they have placed on how much you can save into your pension pot, I cannot put more into it – which I find ridiculous. I started saving into a pension when I was 22. I was lucky because I always worked for companies in the City that had pension schemes. I would encourage everyone to make sure they have a pension. I am concerned about all the people who are going to be relying solely on the insufficient State pension in old age.
Do you invest directly in the stock market?
Not since 2007. I sold all of my shares and I have never invested in listed stocks since. I invest in private companies I am well informed about – or in my loans for Money& Co.
As it happened, 2007 was a good moment to sell. But that was coincidental. I just didn’t want to invest in listed stock any more where I didn’t know what was going on in the companies.
Do you own any property?
Yes, my family home in Barnes. It has five bedrooms and has 5,000 square feet of space. We built it and moved in six years ago. I would prefer not to say how much it is worth, but I know it is a lot.
What little luxury do you treat yourself to?
It’s a physical copy of a newspaper every day so I can do the Sudoku they print.
If you were Chancellor what would you do?
Abolish capital gains tax. I think it’s a terrible tax that prevents the free movement of capital. There are lots of older people who have portfolios of stocks that they cannot sell because they have got so much capital gain. I think that stops them from making good investment decisions.
Do you donate money to charity?
Yes. I donate my time and money to the University College London Cancer Institute and Great Ormond Street Hospital. My daughter died of leukaemia when she was 12 at Great Ormond Street so those charities mean a lot to me.
What is your number one financial priority?
Financial security. I think all women should have financial independence and that means they should work and have their own financial resources. As a woman, I would never ever want to be reliant on anybody else.
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