Spear's friends, old and new, joined the Spear's editorial team and founder William Cash for an evening of champagne, chocolates and (dare we say) chic.
Just a few hundred yards from the St James's Street HQ of HSBC Private Bank where we celebrated our launch back in May 2006, Spear's celebrated our 10th Anniversary with a party over three floors of British art at the Philip Mould Gallery in Pall Mall.
Sponsored by Chatila jewellers, Charbonnel et Walker chocolates, Copperhead Gin and Laurent-Perrier champagne, the event brought together Spear's friends, old and new, including many previous winners of Spear's awards, the elite of London's wealth management world, along with HNW readers and contributors – many going back not just to our first issue, which featured on its cover a diving 100 euro note folded up into a paper aeroplane, but even earlier to our ‘pilot’ issue which was sent out to the 15,000 international members of Annabel's clubs along with the Annabel's magazine that I published for Robin Birley over a decade ago.
The guests who came on Tuesday night certainly reflected the social, cultural and financial mix that has always made Spear's unique. These included Philip Mould himself (a long-standing contributor); David Poole of Citi Private Bank; fashion mogul Leon Max (owner of Easton Neston and Max Studios); the Earl of Carnarvon (owner of Highclere Castle, aka Downton Abbey); The Earl of Dartmouth; Sir Rocco Forte; Mishcon de Reya family lawyer Sandra Davis (a former winner of a Spear's outstanding achievement award for legal services), Adam Wethered (formerly of JP Morgan and Lord North Street, now at Sandaire), Mayfair estate agency owner Peter Wetherell, Chris Boon from Close Brothers, Ian Barnard from Capital Generation Partners, Nicholas Hornby from Cerno Capital, and Amber Melville-Brown, head of reputation litigation at Withers.
And that doesn’t include our illustrious contributors (from John Arlidge to Rupert Allason) and illustrators over the years. Our cover artist Adam Dant, of course, was there, having recently delivered his 46th cover for the magazine. After completing his iconic ‘The Art Bank’ cover for our issue in May 2006 (an art world supplement) we experimented with another few illustrators for the next two issues. But nobody could could come close to the wit, brilliance and skill of Adam Dant's cover drawings whose latest cover is a witty play on the ‘wood-cut’ cover of Thomas More’s Utopia, published 500 years ago.
Unusual for a cover artist working today, Dant also does 18th-century style pamphlet drawings, one reason he was appointed the official general election artist for 2015 and has been dubbed ‘the Hogarth of our times’ by the Guardian. It has been a great honour to have such a distinguished fine artist as our official ‘house artist’ for the last ten years.
Chris Boon from Close Brothers Asset Management, Greg Hutchings, Philip Mould and Spear's 'Discriminator' columnist, Alessandro Tomé
What is it about 10th anniversary company milestones and recalling the late night food that you and your fledgling team ate together in some cheap nocturnal dive to celebrate the launch? On the tenth anniversary of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg recalled ‘getting pizza with friends’ in Harvard shortly after opening Facebook, and telling his founding team that he was ‘excited to help connect our school community, but one day someone needed to connect the whole world’.
Entrepreneurs may evangelise to the media (or scriptwriters) after the birth, but to those present the memory was actually quite different. This was certainly true of Spear’s. The original team – which included various key member of today’s team, including co-founder Wendy Coumantaros, Christopher Silvester and Rupert Phelps –was in no mood for such ‘holistic’ grand platitudes. We were exhausted, and even the all-night kebab shop below our offices in Notting Hill gate was closed.
Celebrating with a pizza was the last thing on our minds, as I had come up with the novel idea of sending out around 2,000 advance copies to our VIP readership list – from the Duke of Westminster at Eaton Hall in Cheshire to the Chancellor at 11 Downing Street. This required us to stick the postage stamps on ourselves.
As I recalled on Tuesday night, this 'stamp licking' exercise took forever – until 3am – and it made us feel sick as we had used old fashioned adhesive A4 envelopes. Worse, I had no idea that you couldn't simply stick 2,000 copies of the first edition' of Spear's through the local post box.
So my clearest memory of the launch night of Spear’s back in 2006 was of ordering my team (led by publisher Matt Crofton, who went on to found the luxury property journal primeresi.com) to drive around West London at dawn in a series of taxis squeezing as many copies as they could through every post box they could find. That took three hours and the taxi bills nearly broke us. Then the Notting Hill Post Office refused to send out the rest saying they had to go bulk mail.
It was hard work. Our second issue got Spear’s talked about with our first ‘Wealth Management Power Index’ which was billed in rather Tom Wolfe-esque baroque prose as ‘Introducing the Top 50 most talented, trusted, and dynamic asset managers, private bankers, and family offices looking after ultra-high-net-worth wealth today’.
Within 24 hours of the first issue being sent out to the 25,000 members of what I called Spear’s Rich List, I found myself in a greasy spoon cafe in Notting Hill with a Scottish financial media mogul who made overtures to buy the magazine. So I knew we had a winning formula. I soon found myself being interviewed by magazines, from Newsweek (we were featured in a special report in May 2006 on the ‘New Jet Set: Rootless Travellers – or Citizens of the World’) to Der Spiegel (ironically whose Notting Hill offices we ended up renting after moving on from above the kebab shop). A year later, FT Wealth launched. Well, you know what they say about imitation.
Perhaps it takes a certain appetite for risk – combined with blind faith – to have launched at all. We launched before the age of 'interactive' digital magazines. Our first website was just a holding page. The cash-burn rate of our first few years - with a 30,000 print run – before the advertising stabilised and we were bought by private equity firm Nectar Capital – was truly scary. I recall one cold February morning walking across Hyde Park at 7.30am in my overcoat on my way to an ‘investor breakfast’ in the board room of Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair. I walked. Taxis were out, as I had recently imposed a ‘no expenses’ policy.
Last week, as I was thinking of what to say at the 10th Anniversary party, and was leafing through our old press cuttings from 2006 and came across a profile of Spear's in German from Der Spiegel shortly after our first issue ('Hilfe, ich bin Milliardär: In London. Wealth Management Survey, das Fachmagazin für Super-Reiche'). I don't read German but I did ask a German friend to translate it. The gist of it was that to launch Spear’s, Cash was either ‘crazy or inspired’ (‘übergeschnappt, vielleicht genial’). Only time would tell. Over the last ten years, I have sometimes wondered which it was.