Nigel Wilson is becoming a hero of mine. The CEO of Legal &General was on Wake up to Money this morning (24th Feb) and I’m about to download the podcast to listen to him again.
I like the man’s common sense approach to money and I like his forthright approach to the capital markets. When you’ve grown the amount of money you manage ten times in as many years, you have to be doing something right. Nigel’s advocacy of equity finance (as opposed to debt) is fundamentally at odds with the way pension schemes have been forced or chosen to invest.
Like another hero of mine, John Kay, he understands the responsibility of those who manage market to make improvements to people’s lives. I’m in Manchester this morning and will be travelling out to Salford in a few minutes. When I go to Salford, I see what he calls “improving the now” all around me- it is Legal & General’s money (partly my money) that is making these improvements happen.
Wilson is a man of the north, Newcastle shirts adorn the walls of his office in London, He is building a flat-pack housing factory outside of Leeds, a badly kept secret. But whether it’s Plymouth or Blackburn he sees the chance to demolish and rebuild on our brownfield sites. What I like about his approach, is that he is making these things happen now, We cannot wait ten years to sort out today’s housing crisis.
And he’s not fighting the corner for the vested interests of fund managers. I have written about the impact of changes to the way we are incentivised to save that Osborne’s looking to make in the budget. Wilson seems sanguine about change, recognising that our current system that redistributes public wealth so inequitably, must be altered.
It is absolutely critical to Britain that we have men and women like Wilson on a mission, with a vision. It’s not just the good they do in their own companies, but it’s the good they do in other companies, that makes them matter.
Terry Smith, Ann Richards, Martin Gilbey, John Kay, Otto Thoresen, Daniel Godfrey, Con Keating. This is my pantheon of people who I read , talk to and listen to , to better understand what makes for good. Without these clear-headed people it would be hard for us to do our job, so much of what we see around us being self-serving and short-termist.
I was with a couple of these heroes yesterday afternoon, they made me promise not to mention their names, but in having the privilege of spending time with these people, I learn.
This week, I wrote my 200th blog, this is the 2004th. I started writing because I wanted to find my voice, I think I’ve found my voice now. But I want to carry on writing – so that I can amplify what these heroes of mine are saying. Please keep reading! And listen to the Podcast here