The business on Katherine Garrett-Cox, Chief executive, Alliance Trust
Tuesday 28 September 2010
Katherine the Great?
Inevitably, Ms Garrett-Cox has been given this sobriquet from time to time. She does, after all, share a Christian name with another woman who enjoyed a successful career in an industry dominated by men. You can't expect headline writers to pass up a chance like that.
So how great is she?
She's certainly enjoyed a stellar career (though she claims she always wanted to be an actress). Appointed head of US equities at merchant bank Hill Samuel at 26, she moved on for a directorship at Aberdeen Asset Management and then to chief investment officer of Morley, Aviva's fund management arm. Three years ago, she moved to Alliance Trust.
A good move?
The switch surprised some people – the Dundee-based investment trust, worth £2.2bn, is Britain's biggest, but this is a relatively sleepy industry that doesn't attract a great deal of attention. Ms Garrett-Cox may be one of only a handful of female chief executives in the FTSE 100, but she no longer gets the publicity she once did – the pay is lower too.
So what happened?
Well, Dundee is a lovely place to make your home, and maybe she was fed up with the Katherine the Great nonsense. One problem with being a woman at the top of business is that everyone focuses on your gender rather than the job. That Ms Garrett-Cox has four kids prompted comparisons with Nicola Horlick, with the pair of them dubbed superwomen. None of the City's many male fund managers gets the same treatment, however prodigiously they've reproduced.
And how is life in Dundee?
Alliance Trust seems to be performing well, despite the volatility of world markets. At the half-year yesterday, it revealed a 3.8 per cent rise in the value of assets over the first six months of 2010. The trust has underperformed some rivals, but Ms Garrett-Cox points out that it has a commitment to generating income as well as capital growth, handy at a time of low interest rates. Alliance is promising to increase its dividend this year for the 44th year in a row.
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