LFN’s award-winning chief has realised his personal ambition.
It’s five o’clock on Sunday afternoon and Clive Wolman is on my phone.
The editor-in-chief of London Financial News, the new title for City
types, sounds a little surprised to have survived through the weekend.
It wasn’t an easy labour, he confides. Friday night was a bit of a
nightmare and there was not much sleep to be had. Still, the pain was
endured and a title was born. The issue of an idea conceived while
Wolman was working on the Financial Times during the Big Bang of 1986,
the London Financial News made its debut this week.
Described as ‘a Campaign for the City’ or ‘a cross between Hello! and
the Investors Chronicle’, LFN (cover price pounds 2, target circulation
20,000) is dedicated to the personalities and the firms that make up the
financial heart of the country.
The weekly title is designed to sit between the more generalist
Financial Times (which was interested in launching LFN itself, but was
told to pull back from the investment by its parent, Pearson) and niche
publications such as Institutional Investor. The readers, Wolman hopes,
will be ambitious professionals with a comfortable level of disposable
When I meet Mr Wolman, five days before the paper is due to hit the
streets, it is after a delightfully wet lunch at Associated Newspapers -
Wolman’s home until last year, when he gave up his post as City editor
on the Mail on Sunday. The contrast in settings could not have been
From Associated’s wood-panelled boardroom (transported from Fleet Street
to Kensington and rebuilt down to the smallest detail) - air heavy with
cigar smoke and money - to the back-alley make-do of LFN’s bolthole, all
sweat and stale coffee.
Mr Wolman, too, is not what I expected. He doesn’t look much like a
media magnate in the making. Crumpled and bemused, there’s no swagger
and bluster, just a quiet confidence and a hint of nerves. Those testy
terrier qualities which have earned the 39-year-old Wolman a reputation
as an award-winning journalist are in check.
For Wolman, LFN is the realisation of a personal ambition, an ambition
he credits his friend, Chris Anderson, for nurturing. Anderson, a pal
from university days, was the man who founded Future Publishing - ‘the
greatest magazine-launch machine in the UK’ - selling it nine years
later to Pearson for pounds 53 million. With friends like that, well,
why not set up your own publishing venture and ask them to invest? Which
is exactly what Wolman has done.
He says that he and Anderson share similar personality traits. ‘I
empathise with him and I could see that he was enjoying life more than
me. He was getting a real kick out of launching these magazines and I
thought I’d like to try that, too.’
But is Wolman also trying to keep up with the Andersons? ‘I don’t have
any ambitions to keep a yacht in the Caribbean, if that’s what you
mean,’ Wolman insists. ‘It’s not just about wanting to make money.’ It’s
just a buzz thing, he adds. ‘I’ve enjoyed myself more in these past few
months than I think I ever have before.’
As testament, he says that he hasn’t really lost his temper for ‘ages’.
Which is probably just as well, if ex-colleagues’ tales of warring
Wolman are anything to go by. ‘Clive’s not particularly pleasant to work
with,’ one former fellow journalist warns. ‘He’s obsessive and
Wolman confesses that ‘it drives me mad, submitting to authority’, while
others say his authority drives them mad. ‘I liked him, but I’m glad I’m
not working for him any more,’ Keith Woolcock, a former journalist on
the Mail on Sunday and now an analyst at Merrill Lynch, admits. ‘He’s
got a ferocious temper and as a journalist he always went for the
Others bemoan Wolman’s abstemiousness and his inability to loosen up and
share a joke. Yet most retain a respect for the man. Wolman, it seems,
is a perfectionist, high standards and all that. People admire him. He
is also, some say, classic entrepreneur material - bright, hard working,
a bastard for the cause.
Wolman admits, however, to a sense of insecurity, which he says could
well be traced back to the death of his father when Wolman was a boy. ‘I
guess I’m always striving for more.’
The ‘more’, once LFN is up and running, could well be other new titles,
or the export of LFN to other financial centres abroad. Wolman may have
a way to go before he’s nipping at Chris Anderson’s heels, but then
everyone’s got to start somewhere.
The Wolman file
1978 Thomson Regional Newspapers, reporter
1980 Jerusalem Post, economic reporter
1982 Financial Times, company commentator
1983 FT, personal finance editor
1986 FT, securities industry correspondent
1989 Mail On Sunday, City editor
1996 London Financial News, editor-in-chief