At the inaugural dinner of the Phoenix Masters Association on Monday 13th March at Skinners’ Hall, we were privileged to have the Late Aldermanic Sheriff Alderman Charles Bowman as our guest speaker. Subject to election it is likely that Charles will become Lord Mayor later this year and so we were particularly privileged to hear his thoughts on what he would seek to achieve if elected.
He covered three principal subjects: Brexit, his mayoral theme and charity.
On Brexit, he said “whatever the events of the coming days, the City’s responsibility in helping to preserve and enhance economic prosperity within UK financial services will make next year an interesting one. London is globally pre-eminent and our Financial and Related Professional Services (FRPS)industries represent 13% of GDP, employ 2.2m people across the UK and, in Financial Services alone, contribute £71.4billion to our annual tax take.”
But whether the UK electorate had voted to Remain or Leave we would still face the issue of a loss of trust in the City of London and related industries. The global financial crisis and the events that followed shook people’s trust in organisations. There is much to be done to restore trust – creating better businesses that are trusted by society at large. Charles said, “It is this agenda – the Business of Trust – that I intend to put at the heart of my mayoral theme next year.”
Charles referred to the recently published 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer which reports the largest ever decline in trust across the institutions of government, media, NGOs and business. The report concludes:
“Business finds itself on the brink of distrust, ….and, perhaps most concerning is the perceived role the public see business playing in stoking their fears.”
Trust is important because in an era of increasing connectivity and intensifying public scrutiny trust is the critical asset in ensuring any institution’s long-term survival and success. And it is particularly important for the City because post-Brexit, if London is to remain pre-eminent as THE global financial services hub, (1) we must demonstrate internationally that London continues to be the trusted cluster of choice, and (2) at a national level, we have a responsibility to re-earn the trust of society that we are here to serve.
Charles told us that there are numerous examples in the City’s history that have supported the earning of trust. It goes right back over 800 years to the idea of the Lord Mayor Showing himself to the people in his annual parade after installation.
The Lord Mayor’s Appeal has been working hard in developing its strategic thinking. It has concluded, after surveying the Financial City, that a yearly pop-up charity is no longer effective and, further, Companies want to support charities that underpin a Fair, Inclusive, Skilled and Healthy City. A plan is under development to support three charities over three years in consultation with Charles’ two prospective successors.
Charles has selected the Samaritans for his own charity, not least because it was set up by the vicar of St Stephen’s Walbrook, the Lord Mayor’s Church. It was initially funded by the Grocers, his mother Livery.
A proposition is being developed with the Samaritans whereby they will use the funds to provide a programme of mental health training and support for UK-wide financial services.
Charles concluded by thanking the Chairman for the wonderful hospitality and he and Samantha look forward to “many, many more years of fun with you all…the fabulous Phoenix Masters and Firebirds.”
We can all share that view and the Phoenix Masters will, subject to his election, do everything in our power to support Charles Bowman as Lord Mayor.