How fund heads can shine in media

It is often said that the more the media put someone on a pedestal, the more likely they are to turn on that person when their fortunes change. The higher they get built up, the lower they get knocked down.

There are many examples where this is true. But every once in a while comes someone such as the fund manager Nicola Horlick, who is such an exception to the rule that one has to question what allows her to defy the laws of media gravity.

Even her first high-profile stunt more than ten years ago - when she flew with press in tow to Frankfurt to complain to the ultimate bosses about her treatment in the fund management division of Deutsche Bank - did not actually achieve its objective. She still left the group shortly after. But in a faceless City, it gave her a profile, which she has never ever lost.

Very few fund managers become household names. Neil Woodford has had glittering success at Invesco Perpetual, but most people have never heard of him. Katherine Garrett Cox, the chief executive of Alliance Trust, and Helena Morrissey, the chief investment officer at Newton, are respected in the financial media, but have nothing like Horlick's mainstream recognition.

Horlick is not only a phenomenon, but one that has lasted. This is despite the fact that the business she founded, Bramdean, is going through a difficult patch.

These are bad times for fund managers because markets have been both febrile and falling for the better part of 18 months, but she was unlucky in directing a significant slice of her clients into the funds of Bernie Madoff, the now convicted US fraudster. That money is of course lost.

Yet when news of the Madoff scandal broke she went on the attack, soliciting slots on radio to lay the blame for the debacle firmly at the door of US regulators. It did not deflect attention totally from her own role, but it did bring more balance to the coverage.

And maybe that is the answer - to keep fighting, however hopeless the odds, and never to show public signs of self-doubt. Maybe we all just admire the chutzpah of someone who refuses to be beaten.

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