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The A-team at SG Asset Management goes to work

Despite having left their previous jobs under controversial circumstances and with no performance track record to call their own, Nicola Horlick, Keith Percy and John Richards have turned SocGen Asset Management into a force in UK fund management in just three years. The results to date are impressive, with nearly all targets reached and 71 mandates under management totalling nearly £7 billion of assets. However, despite their protestations to the contrary, marketing the business through the personalities of the individuals, particularly Horlick, has left many with the impression that it is a top-heavy star firm. Horlick and co are striving to shake off this image as they push towards their next target of £20 billion.

Ask SocGen Asset Management's founders about how far they have come in their first three years in business and they all admit to sheer surprise.

In the white-hot competition of financial services it is unusual to see any trace of modesty or humility among players, yet such has been the speed with which SGAM has got into the game that everyone in the industry, both inside and outside the firm, has been taken aback.

"It's phenomenal, I really didn't think they could do it," says one UK investment consultant.

Having set out in early 1998 looking to manage £5 billion within five years the firm hit that mark in its first two and until the markets fell last year was closing in on £7 billion within three. In fact its advertising at the time said, with a little bit of poetic licence, that it was already there.

"Each time we hit another £1 billion we would have a little glass of champagne in the office," says Keith Percy, chief executive. "We obviously had drinks at £1 billion and then two, three, four, five and six but we didn't quite get to seven.

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