Horlick was born into a Cheshire family and spent most of her youth in the Wirral Peninsula. Her father, Michael Gayford, was a businessman and Liberal candidate in the 1970s for the Wirral constituency. Her grandmother was a Jewish refugee from Poland.
Horlick attended the independent Kingsmead School in Hoylake, Wirral between the ages of six and twelve. She was one of four girls amongst 300 boys initially. She then boarded at the independent Cheltenham Ladies' College in 1973. She stayed for two years then went to Birkenhead High School GDST. She also spent some time at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, US, on an English-Speaking Union exchange scholarship. She gained nine O levels, four A levels and an S level. She gained a place at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1979 to study law, and graduated in 1982. She was president of the Oxford Law Society and counted William Hague, later leader of the Tories, as a friend.
Between 1982 and 1983, Horlick worked for her father in the family business. She joined S. G. Warburg & Co. as a graduate trainee in 1983, starting in the investment management business, which later became Mercury Asset Management. She was appointed a director in 1989. She joined Morgan Grenfell Asset Management in 1991 and was appointed Managing Director of the UK investment business in 1992. During five years that she was in charge, the amount of assets managed by the firm grew from £4 billion to £18 billion. She was suspended from the job on 14 January 1997 and resigned two days later, after it was claimed she was moving to a rival and trying to get colleagues to join her. Accompanied by a large contingent of reporters, Horlick flew to the company's headquarters in Frankfurt to demand that her job be reinstated. As her future husband later described it, "Amid rumours that she was going to defect to a rival, Horlick had been suspended from a senior job ... She took the trip to Germany accompanied by a piranha shoal of story-hungry hacks."
She set up SG Asset Management in 1997 and Bramdean Asset Management LLP in 2005. She founded and is the CEO of Money&Co., a marketplace lending business focusing on business loans. She also has a film business called Derby Street Films. Nicola Horlick is the Chairman of film finance fund Glentham Capital, which raised funds on equity crowdfunding platform Seedrs in 2013. She was a founding partner of Rockpool in 2011, which has its offices in Victoria, London. The other businesses are based in nearby Mayfair.
Horlick has been called "Superwoman" in the media for balancing her high-flying finance career with bringing up six children, Georgina, Alice, Serena, Antonia, Rupert, and Benjie. Her eldest daughter, Georgina, died of leukaemia in 1998 when she was 12. Journalists writing about the role of mothers in the workplace refer to her as an exemplar of "having it all", although Horlick acknowledges her reliance on paid help. According to Horlick, "It's ridiculous that I am known as 'superwoman' ... Look at someone who has no help at home and holds down a job. Or look at me with my nanny and my secretary. Who would you call 'superwoman'?" This nickname came from Shirley Conran's book Superwoman, and apparently pre-dates Horlick's media fame. Her media appearance made her - inevitably - the subject of an Alex cartoon on 25 January 1997.
She married Timothy Piers Horlick, whom she had met while at Oxford, in June 1984, when she was 23. He was also a City investment banker. They separated in December 2003 and divorced in 2005. Her second marriage is to Martin Baker, a financial journalist, on 8 September 2006. They had met in March 2005, when he interviewed her for the Sunday Telegraph. She acted as technical editor to his thriller novel set in the world of high finance.
In the wake of the EU referendum, she wrote of her strong opposition to Brexit and cautious support of the Liberal Democrats.. On 3 October 2019 it was announced that she was to be the Liberal Democrat candidate in Chelsea and Fulham for any forthcoming General Election.
- "What's so 'super' about me?". The Guardian. 24 September 2005. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016.
- Richard Halstead (19 January 1997). "'I learnt I could beat the boys'". The Independent.
- "Passed/failed: Nicola Horlick". The Independent. 13 November 1997. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- Dylan Lobo (16 June 2015). "Nicola Horlick wins inaugural 'Champion of Change' award". Citywire.
- Jill Treanor; Peter Rodgers (15 January 1997). "Now Morgan Grenfell suspends pensions chief". The Independent.
- Stanley Reed (2 February 1997). "Deutsche Bank Vs. The `Superwoman'". Business Week.
- Martin Baker (13 March 2005). "Business profile: The mother of all fund managers". The Daily Telegraph.
- "Fifty lessons: teamwork takes all kinds". The Telegraph. 30 June 2005. Retrieved 5 August 2013.
- "New Nicola Horlick venture raises questions". London Evening Standard. 30 January 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Tansley, Janet (1 May 2013). "Superwoman Nicola Horlick puts family first at last". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Laura Collins (10 September 2006). "City superwoman reveals marriage joy". Daily Mail.
- Clinton, Jane (30 November 2008). "'There is more to life than being successful'". Express. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Williams, Zoe (17 September 2011). "Come back 'Superwoman': the lost ideal of combining motherhood and work". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Emma Clark (19 December 2002). "The human face of Nicola Horlick". BBC News.
- "Now Morgan Grenfell suspends pensions chief". The Independent. 15 January 1997. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
- "'Alex' 25-01-1997".
- "Nicola Horlick now profile". Financial Times. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- Hoyle, Antonia (19 January 2008). "I'm Superwoman's Blubber Monster". Daily Mail. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Rumsey, Lulu (August 2013). "Horlicks goes to Hollywood". Residents' Journal (4).
- Horlick, Nicola (26 September 2016). "We Must Prevent Brexit To Protect Our Children's Future". HuffPost. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Cecil, Nicholas (19 September 2016). "City 'superwoman' Nicola Horlick backs Lib Dems to battle against Brexit". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 May 2017.
- Sleigh, Sophia (3 Oct 2019). "Nicola Horlick: City 'superwoman' unveiled as latest high-profile candidate standing for Lib Dems in London". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 3 Oct 2019.
- "The Interview: Nicola Horlick". Motherland. 11 April 2005. Retrieved 3 May 2017.