Michael Spencer

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Michael A. Spencer
Born (1955-05-30) 30 May 1955 (age 63)
Kuala Lumpur, British Malaya (now Malaysia)
Residence London
Nationality British
Other names Spence,[1] Spens[2]
Occupation Financial broker; investor
Years active 40+
Known for ICAP, ICAP Charity Day, political fundraising
Home town London
Net worth £800m[3]
Political party Conservative Party
Board member of inter alia Alresford Racing Ltd, Nex Group PLC, The Conservative Party Foundation Limited, Ipgl (Holdings) Limited,Sirai House Limited, Bi Wines and Spirits Limited, Sirai Llp, Finsbury Fine Art Llp, ICAP PLC, InterCapital Brokerage Services Limited
Spouse(s) Sarah, Marchioness of Milford Haven (June 2016)
Children One daughter, two sons

Michael Alan Spencer (born 30 May 1955) is a British businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder and chief executive of NEX Group plc, a UK-based business focused on electronic markets and post trade business. NEX Group was formerly known as ICAP plc, until the sale of its voice-broking business to Tullett Prebon in December 2016. Spencer has been described as the richest self-made person in the City of London and as a "...City grandee".[4][5]


The son of an international civil servant, Spencer's early childhood saw him move from his birth country of Malaysia to Sudan and then Ethiopia. At age eight he was sent to England to board at Worth Abbey Benedictine (OSB) School, Sussex. He studied physics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, after which he considered becoming an astrophysicist.[6]

Spencer is an Honorary Fellow of Corpus Christi and an Honorary Doctor of Loughborough University.[7][8]

Early career[edit]

While still a student Spencer made £30,000 dealing in shares.

In 1976 he joined city broker Simon and Coates. There he took a large short position on the price of gold prior to the Russian invasion of Afghanistan; the price of gold quadrupled in response to the invasion and Spencer's position incurred heavy losses, leading to his dismissal.[1] In 1981 he joined Drexel Burnham, rising to Vice President before being fired for trading errors. From 1983 to 1986 he was a Director at futures firm Charles Fulton; when that firm floated, Spencer used £50,000 from his proceeds to co-found his first business, along with three colleagues.[1][9]


Spencer co-founded Intercapital Brokers in 1986.[10] It was the first to launch a real-time screen that displayed live prices.[9] In 1998, it was acquired by Exco plc in a reverse takeover, and the enlarged business was renamed Intercapital plc.[11] In 1999, the company merged with Garban plc to create Garban-Intercapital plc, the largest inter-dealer broker in the world with more than 5000 employees across 63 offices.[12] Garban renamed itself ICAP plc in 2001 (its full name did not fit on trading screens, hence the abbreviation to ICAP) .[12][9] Functioning as an inter-dealer broker, ICAP brought together large financial institutions in search of buyers and sellers for corporate and government bonds, foreign currency, commodities and other financial products. The firm collected commissions and connected clients via its electronic trading platforms. In 2006 Icap entered the FTSE 100, one of a small number of companies to do so with a founder CEO.

Following the sale of its voice broking business to global banking firm Tullett Prebon in December 2016, ICAP plc was renamed NEX Group, while Tullett Prebon became TP ICAP. Spencer sold the majority of his stake in TP ICAP in January 2017. He remains CEO and largest shareholder of Nex Group, as of February 2017.[13]

In February 2010, Spencer made £45m from the sale of ICAP shares weeks before the company issued a profit warning that resulted in a 16% fall in the firm's share price.[14]

In September 2013 ICAP was implicated in the global Libor interest rate scandal and fined $87m (£54m) by the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission and Britain's Financial Conduct Authority.[15][16] In March 2014 British prosecutors filed against three former ICAP employees for their role in the affair. They were among a global group of finance professionals to be investigated, including staff from Barclays, UBS, Citigroup and RP Martin. In January 2016 the three ICAP employees were unanimously acquitted in the UK; the US Department of Justice dropped charges against them in July 2016.[17][18] Spencer was not implicated but issued a public apology on behalf of ICAP.[19]

In March 2018 NEX announced that it had been approached by CME Group further to a proposed acquisition. CME offered £3.8bn in a cash-and-share deal, valuing Spencer's stake at approximately £668m.[20][21]

Other business interests[edit]

In 1997 Spencer purchased a controlling interest in spread betting firm City Index Group, acquiring his stake from the firm's founders. City Index was later sold for $118m to financial services company GAIN Capital, netting Spencer more than $80m.[22]

Spencer has held stakes in numerous public and private companies.[10] He is a director and majority shareholder in IPGL Limited, a private holding company making investments on behalf of Spencer and other family trusts. He is also an early-stage investor in Temple Grange Partners, a consultancy that finds compliance specialists for financial markets, and an investor in mobile gaming software company Probability.[23] He is a co-owner of Exotix, a frontier markets investment banking boutique.[24] He also owns a stake in Cluff Natural Resources, a global energy resources investor. He has led an investment round in Veridium, a biometric authentication startup, and is an investor in Elvie, a female health tech startup.[25][26][27] In 2018 he became Chairman and majority shareholder of investment firm FCFM.[28] He is an investor in Viewforth Investment Partners, a London-based hedge fund focusing on mid-cap European securities.[29]

Spencer is a former chairman of stockbroker Numis Securities.

He believes in a long-term role for cryptocurrencies. He opposes MiFID II.[30]

In 2011 Spencer was made Chairman of Bordeaux Index, the online wine trading exchange in which he is an investor.[31] He also holds a stake in English wine maker Chapel Down.[32]

He is the owner of Sirai House, a commercial lodge in Kenya.[33]


Spencer served as Treasurer of the Conservative Party from 2006 to 2010, during which time the party's finances moved from a deficit of £8m into a surplus of £75m.[34][35] He is the Chairman of the Conservative Party Foundation, a charity established to strengthen the financial future of the Conservative Party.[36]

Spencer is a noted donor to the Conservative Party, taking dinner with then-Prime Minister David Cameron.[37] ICAP and Spencer have made £4.6m in donations to the party.[38] Spencer was nominated for a peerage in Cameron's resignation honours list, for charity fundraising and service to the Conservative party while Treasurer, but reportedly his nomination was blocked by the Cabinet Office.[39]

Spencer has been reported to favour positive discrimination employment policies for women but is against gender-based employment quotas, believing them to wrongly presuppose prejudice among all male employers. He has criticised the UK Government's pay gap review as a distraction from Brexit.[1][40] Spencer was among the first to employ female brokers in the City.[9]

He voted for the UK to remain in the EU. He later said that he had long been undecided on the issue, and that his Remain vote was cast without "...great angelical zeal."[2][30] He has spoken of becoming a cheerleader for enterprise after the sale of NEX.[9]

Awards and recognition[edit]

  • Named to Risk magazine's Hall of Fame (2003)[1]
  • Entrepreneur of the Year at CNBC's European Business Leader Awards (2007)[41]
  • Judges Special Award, Beacon Fellowship Prize (2007)[42]
  • Ernst & Young World Entrepreneur Of The Year. Spencer was picked from over 50 country finalists, each one an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year in their home country (2010)[43][44]
  • Queen's Award for International Trade (2005 and 2011)[45]
  • Institutional Investor's World's Top 50 Financial Technologists (#13) (2016)[46]
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Futures & Options World (2016)[47]


In 1993, Spencer founded the ICAP Charity Day, an annual event in which royalty and celebrities man the trading desks at ICAP and the broking firm donates the day's revenue to charities.[48] As of February 2017, the event has raised over £140 million and backed 2,200 charitable projects. He has said that the Charity Day is his proudest achievement in business, alongside breaking into the FTSE100 with ICAP.[9][49][50]

Royalty and celebrities who have manned ICAP phones include: Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, Prince Harry, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Sir Mo Farrah, Sir Stirling Moss, Gillian Anderson, Halle Berry, George W. Bush, Samantha Cameron, Cheryl Cole, Kelsey Grammar, Tom Hardy, Goldie Hawn, Chris Hemsworth, Sir Chris Hoy, Bill Nighy, Julie Walters, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon.

Spencer is a founder and trustee of the Borana Conservation Trust, a charity which supports critically endangered species in Kenya's Borana and Laikipia regions.[51]

Personal life[edit]

In June 2016 Spencer married Sarah, Marchioness of Milford Haven in London.

Spencer has homes in Chelsea, West London and Kenya.[52] Who's Who lists his hobbies as running, riding, shooting, wine and art; he is also reported to be an aviation enthusiast.[19][53] Spencer runs a horse-breeding programme and plans to build a stable in Laikipia. His horse Freewheeler—a South African-bred filly— won the 2018 Kenya Derby at Ngong.[33]

He collects twentieth century and contemporary art, including the work of Picasso, Lucian Freud and Scottish artist Jack Vettriano.[9] Spencer is a former shareholder and an associate director of Ipswich Town Football Club.[54] He cites Michael Bloomberg as a business influence, and reportedly is friends with Sir Elton John, Chris Eubank, Keren Woodward and Andrew Ridgeley. He is a Christian and churchgoer.[33][1]

Spencer is a member of White's, as well as 5 Hertford Street and 67 Pall Mall.[55] He once left a £5000 tip for restaurant staff at Scotts after winning a bet with Richard Caring about the outcome of the 2015 UK General Election.[56]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The rare beast who became the world's top money broker". This is Money. Retrieved 2018-03-14. 
  2. ^ a b "Michael Spencer: The City's top Tory on why Theresa May is not doing enough to defend business on Brexit". 
  3. ^ "Profiles: 100-196=". The Sunday Times. 2017-05-07. Retrieved 2018-03-15. 
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  5. ^ Blackhurst, Chris (2008-10-09). "City Interview: ICAP's Michael Spencer". This is Money. Retrieved 2018-03-19. 
  6. ^ Wachman, Richard (May 13, 2006). "Big beast of the City hooked on the buzz of the markets". theguardian.com. 
  7. ^ "Emeritus, Honorary, Claymond and Foundation Fellows". Corpus Christi College Oxford. Retrieved 2018-03-19. 
  8. ^ "Winter Ceremonies celebrate honorary graduates". Loughborough University - A top ten university and 1st in the UK for Student Experience. 2012-12-14. Retrieved 2018-03-19. 
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Marlow, Ben (2018-06-02). "Icap founder Michael Spencer on Corbyn the economic juvenile and not wanting to end his career on a losing battle". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-06-04. 
  10. ^ a b Wachman, Richard (May 13, 2006). "Big beast of the City hooked on the buzz of the markets". theguardian.com. 
  11. ^ "Numis Corporation Board Changes" (PDF). numiscorp.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  12. ^ a b "Who we are". www.icap.com. Retrieved 29 March 2018. 
  13. ^ Dakers, Marion (January 10, 2017). "Michael Spencer sells most of his TP Icap shares". telegraph.co.uk. 
  14. ^ "Tory treasurer Michael Spencer attacked over £45m share sale". Daily Telegraph. 5 February 2010. If someone's attempting to try to start a political debate, it's not supportable by the real facts. There's a proper procedure to follow here. The proper procedure was followed. It's ridiculous for someone to suggest that I have behaved improperly. I haven't. 
  15. ^ "Ex-brokers celebrate as sixth Libor defendant walks free". reuters.com. January 28, 2016. Retrieved February 13, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Libor: ICAP fined $87m and three traders charged with fraud". BBC News. 
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  18. ^ "Libor brokers 'were scapegoats'". BBC News. 2016-01-28. Retrieved 2018-03-19. 
  19. ^ a b Armitage, Jim (10 March 2017). "Michael Spencer: The City's top Tory on why Theresa May is not doing enough to defend business on Brexit". Standard.co.uk. Retrieved 15 March 2018. He clearly feels angry at his traders and hard done by at Icap's punishment. "It is undoubtedly the low point of my career and the history of Icap. But I believe the firm's reputation for honesty and ethics with our clients has stood the test of time. It was a pity the conduct of three individuals caused not only financial damage but reputational damage well beyond the proportionality of their misconduct." 
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  25. ^ "Small-cap spotlight: Michael Spencer ups his stake in Cluff Resources". Evening Standard. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  26. ^ Nicolle, Emily (2018-06-29). "City veteran Michael Spencer invests millions into fintech startup". Retrieved 2018-07-09. 
  27. ^ "Elvie pulls in $6M Series A to build a global female health tech brand". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
  28. ^ Burton, Lucy (2018-08-05). "Michael Spencer takes lead role at FCFM". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
  29. ^ "Subscribe to read". Financial Times. Retrieved 2018-08-16. 
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  31. ^ Kevany, Sophie (December 7, 2011). "ICAP chief joins Bordeaux Index". decanter.com. 
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  33. ^ a b c Biko, Jackson (4 May 2018). "Laidback billionaire". BusinesDailyAfrica.com. 
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  37. ^ "David Cameron publishes list of all donors dining at No 10". BBC News. 26 March 2012. 
  38. ^ Bennett, Asa (26 September 2013). "Cameron Urged To Give Back The £4.6m From Libor Donor". Huffington Post. 
  39. ^ Hope, Christopher (22 July 2016). "David Cameron's recommendation of a peerage for Michael Spencer 'holding up resignation honours list'". telegraph.co.uk. 
  40. ^ "Brexit Britain Wasting Time on Pay Gap, Billionaire Spencer Says". Bloomberg.com. 2018-05-15. Retrieved 2018-05-17. 
  41. ^ "CNBC Europe Names the Top European Business Leaders For 2007". theguardian.com. May 1, 2007. 
  42. ^ "Beacon Fellows". beaconawards.org. February 9, 2017. 
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  46. ^ "Institutional Investor Top 50 2016". institutionalinvestor.com. July 18, 2016. 
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  49. ^ "An overview". icapcharityday.com. February 9, 2017. 
  50. ^ May, Christian (2018-05-25). "Editor's Notes: Anti-Brexit party can't quite get its act together". Retrieved 2018-06-04. 
  51. ^ "Decade of Excellence Award: Michael Spencer, Group CEO, Icap". fnlondon.com. October 12, 2016. 
  52. ^ Duke, Simon (November 27, 2016). "Yes, I'm a bit of barrow boy, says Cameron's broker buddy". thetimes.co.uk. 
  53. ^ "Who's Who". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-4000213. 
  54. ^ Goodway, Nick (November 6, 2015). "Michael Spencer profile: The £700 million dealmaker close to David Cameron". standard.co.uk. 
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  56. ^ "BIG SHOT OF THE WEEK: Multi-millionaire Nex founder Michael Spencer". This is Money. Retrieved 2018-04-16. 

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