The City's great comeback kid

Some may feel that there is something curiously out of time about Michael Spencer, who you see on this month's cover being whisked away from his office in a chauffeur-driven limo. Spencer is a classic City rainmaker and master of the universe, and his oft-worn red braces might remind you of the days of Gordon Gekko, when lunch was for wimps and greed was good. But Spencer is more complex than that, more English. How many Oxford-educated astrophysicists do you know who were brought up in Ethiopia and pay themselves £5 million-plus bonuses?

by Matthew Gwyther, MT editor
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The Icap boss is a true City entrepreneur, a modern-day taipan with a brace of failures and some real scrapes under his belt, and he is an inveterate gambler. One early disaster befell him when he went short on gold and was caught dead as the price went up - 'I remember praying and praying it would get better tomorrow', he recollects, 'and then the agony of losing everything'.

On the subject of loss, we're also looking at the art of 'brand whispering' this month - how to revive brands that appear terminally sick. One of my favoured marques is in need of a shout rather than a whisper at the moment - Saab. In nine out of the past 10 years that I've driven one, Saab has lost money. Brands are hugely emotive, involving as much investment of the heart as the wallet from the consumer. The reasons I have a Saab are subtle and would keep me on the therapist's couch for hours. So I was pretty distressed to hear that its owner, GM, was conducting a review that could lead to its axing because nobody can work out exactly what Saab stands for - except that the typical customer is an academic, and 'there aren't enough university professors to make the investment worthwhile'.

Finally, this is the last edition of MT to be art directed by Anne Braybon. Anne has been an integral part of the magazine's team for the past seven years and has seen MT through two redesigns. At their best, magazines are a true marriage of words and pictures, with the two elements working in perfect harmony to communicate more powerfully to you, the reader. Anne has always been a firm believer in this coalescence and was one of the first art directors I worked with who actually read every word of copy that she helped bring to life on the page. She's quite deservedly won loads of awards while with us and is a true pro. We will all miss her.

It is an indication of how seriously we take the MT art director's job that Anne's shoes will be filled by Jan Brown, currently design director for all the Haymarket titles published from our Hammersmith offices. We are pleased to see Jan emerge from her general's tent on to the battlefield once again.

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