Nancy Curtin is the chief investment officer and head of investment at Close Brothers Asset Management, making her one of the highest-ranking women in London’s asset management sector.
Earlier this year she was included in City A.M.’s Power 100 list. Here, she talks about what inspired her - and explains why she backs Donald Trump.
What inspired you as you were growing up?
I’ve always been highly motivated, very focused and very achievement oriented. My mum used to say, “You just came out that way”. I’ve always enjoyed doing well. I think when you do well you continue to want to do well.
My father was quite entrepreneurial and successful in a number of businesses and I looked up to him as a very charismatic figure. He was willing to take a risk and create something out of nothing. I think that’s somewhere in the DNA too.
Trump has a much more clear view about the role of fiscal stimulus and what needs to be done from an economic perspective. That is under appreciated in all of this because... “he hates women"
Did your parents expect big things of you?
Not really. My parents didn’t push me. I pushed myself. I often wonder, as a parent of four children, what the right thing to do is. Should I expect highly of my children?
You can create expectations but that can be negative. The key is to get somebody in a place that they’re confident and they’re fulfilling their strength and potential and they are self-motivated to achieve. If I can achieve one thing as a parent it would be that.
What experience shaped your career?
I think for me it’s that I have done a lot of different things, all in finance, but every job I have had has shaped a broader, different perspective than if I had done the same thing. I am always searching for new things to learn.
Are we in danger of getting too hung up on the concept of work-life balance?
You do have to make both work. It does mean I don’t have a lot of hobbies. My children and my family are my outside of work focus. Then there’s some exercise in-between.
You have to make success of your work life and you have to put just as much energy if not more so into your personal life. My children need to know they are not second to my work life, they need to know they are unconditionally loved and I am there for them.
I am less worried about his views on women because he has a lot of powerful women working for him
Let’s discuss the US election. Do you think the world is becoming a more politically volatile place?
Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton bring violent emotional reactions and have polarised voters. We’ve come up with two very different candidates in this election. We’ve moved away from what people might have viewed as the obvious status quo. Trump is completely anti-establishment in that sense.
Personally, I am a Trump supporter. I say that - yet I recognise his remarks on minorities are abominable.
Whereas Obama represented hope, I think [Trump is] the most interesting candidate - he represents the anger people feel from the fallout of the financial crisis. The populist movement we’re seeing, not just in the United States but with Jeremy Corbyn, shows there’s an embedded anger. There are some people who are getting a lot more out of this recovery and a lot of people that are not.
The part of Trump that is interesting is that he has a much more clear view about the role of fiscal stimulus and what needs to be done from an economic perspective. That is under appreciated in all of this because... “he hates women, he hates Muslims, and he hates Mexicans.”
I also think he is a brilliant negotiator. I was very encouraged by Trump’s meeting with Paul Ryan. Ryan came out and said, “I can work with this man. I can see [his] point”.
I’m not of the school that Trump is a disaster, I think that could be the surprise. I also look at his Orlando remarks and think, “you have got to keep your mouth shut.” You have to recognise when outlandish stuff is appropriate and when it’s not.
What about Trump’s comments on women?
I am less worried about his views on women because he has a lot of powerful women working for him. His own daughter is very smart and is quite powerful running his little empire there. So I don’t think he has a thing about women.
The problem with Trump is that he makes a lot of brash comments – that’s his style. Is he going to build a wall between Mexico? I don’t think so. [But] he is tapping into something. He’s saying if the formula is working I’m going to keep the formula going.