2018 Aldermanic Campaign Begins

It is customary for Aldermen to give an undertaking to surrender their office at least every six years.  Elected in July 2013, I have taken the opportunity, in advance of running for Sheriff next year, to submit my resignation of office to the Court of Aldermen on 9 November.  At the same time, I also indicated my intention to seek re-election.  I submitted my nomination papers to the City of London Corporation on 16 November.  If the election is contested, it shall be held on 13 December.

My campaign brochure is below, and I shall be working hard here on the site, and on the streets, for re-election.

I would like to thank profusely for their support of my nomination:

  • Proposer – Mr Nicholas Westgarth, Worshipful Company of International Bankers, Austin Friars
  • Seconder – Mr Karl Craig, Canaccord Genuity, Lothbury
  • Subscriber – Ms Mei Sim Lai OBE, Lai Peters, New Broad Street
  • Subscriber – Mr Roger Sanders OBE, Lighthouse Group, Throgmorton Street
  • Subscriber – Ms Elizabeth Corrin, China Construction Bank, Old Broad Street
  • Election Agent – Ms Ruby Sayed (Barrister), Temple

Divine Service Prior To The Election Of The Lord Mayor

1 October 2018 at 10:45 – This service is held at St Lawrence Jewry, the official church of the Corporation of London.  It precedes the election of the Lord Mayor and is attended by the Masters of the livery companies.

I’ve always been politely amused by the touching adaption of a well-known hymn for the City:

O Praise ye the Lord, fraternities all,
With each patron saint, with Lawrence and Paul,
Praise God in this City, in his name we strive,
And pray for our liveries, long may they survive.

O Masters of guilds,in livery adorned,
Your mysteries keep and strive to be formed
In charity, service, and care for the poor,
Bring God his due honour, and praise Him the more.

Prepare ye to serve, all Aldermen too,
In each of your tasks be faithful and true;
With eye to the Father, and ear on your ward
With all this City, O praise ye the Lord!

This year’s Lesson and Sermon were taken from Luke 16:1-9:

The Unjust Steward

1And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5So he called every one of his lord’s debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. 

For some of us, it seemed too a propos a lesson on ‘client monies’.

City Giving Day Role Of Honour

Congratulations to all those organisations in the Ward who participated!

City Giving Day Role Of Honour

  • Ambac
  • Blackrock Investment Management (UK) Limited
  • Broad Street Ward Club
  • Canaccord Genuity Wealth
  • China Construction Bank London
  • Deutsche Bank
  • Fireclad Ltd
  • Gianni, Origoni, Grippo, Cappelli & Partners
  • Guild of Freemen
  • ING Bank
  • IoD City of London
  • The Brokerage Citylink
  • The Worshipful Company of Carpenters
  • The Worshipful Company of Drapers
  • Union Bank UK plc
  • Z/Yen Group Limited

Register for 24 September 2019!

BROAD STREET WARD – CITY OF LONDON – VOTER UPDATE

To the Ward of Broad Street,

As Alderman for your Ward, I thought I would write and bring you up-to-date with news.

First, you should be receiving our Broad Street Ward Newsletter every six months.  If not, or you would like to receive it electronically, please do contact me.

Second, I enclose a few items which might be of interest:

Third, we have made great progress in Broad Street Ward in three major areas:

  • Refurbishment and all-but-pedestrianisation of Austin Friars.  This project was completed, on budget, and on time.  We have plans for more social and community activities in this area.  Please do look out for a Ward Might later in the year, basically an open house in the centre of the Ward one lunchtime.  Also look out next year for a street market.
  • On-site shredder vans. An outright ban seems a ways off, but we have reduced these vehicles to almost the minimum.  If you spot a particular offender, i.e., idling or unattended in a restricted parking area, please do feel free to photograph them and send to me.
  • We are proud of the website, now in its fifth year.  We also have a twitter account @broadstreetward.  We are trying to ‘follow’ all businesses and people in the Ward, so please do ‘follow’ us by return!

Two further opportunities that might interest you:

  • City & Ward Overview. Your members are always ready to come to offices in the Ward to explain the City of London, the history, livery companies, wards, philanthropy, and local services.  We have a presentation, “What Could The ‘City of London’ Ever Do For Me? Or How Can I Drive Sheep Across London Bridge?” we’d be delighted to give to you and your colleagues if you wish.  The presentation also covers how to apply for the Freedom of the City of London, again, something where your members, Deputy John Bennett, John Scott CC, Chris Hayward CC, and I, would be delighted to sponsor voters.  Equally, for a large party, we would be happy to host you at the Guildhall for such a presentation, along with a short tour.  To request a City & Ward Overview, just email me at michael_mainelli@zyen.com.
  • City Giving Day is taking place on 25 September 2018.  It’s one day in the year when businesses can unite to celebrate and showcase their charitable and volunteering efforts with employees, clients, suppliers and the public.  It is about celebrating what you already do – not asking you for money.  To register, just go to thelordmayorsappeal.org/a-fair-city/city-giving-day.

May I take this opportunity to thank you for your support.  Your members are always open to ideas for change and improvement.  It’s our honour to serve you.  We want to continue trying to deliver more by Working for the City, Working for the Ward, Working for You.

Sincerely yours,

Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, Executive Chairman, Z/Yen Group

It’s Not All About Winning, Unless You Win

I had a wonderful time at the City Debate last night, Tuesday, 6 March.  Here’s a photo of all of us at the start:

CSFI & CISI City Debate:

  • Antony Jenkins (10x)
  • Nikhil Rathi (London Stock Exchange)
  • Michael Mainelli (Z/Yen)
  • Ruth Wandhöfer (Citi)

You can spot Ruth on the left, with Angela Knight in the centre who chaired proceedings, and Alderman Alan Yarrow both as Chairman of CISI and as Lord Mayor Locum Tenens.  The pre-debate vote was neck-and-neck, 51% “no” (Antony and my side) and 49% “yes” (Ruth and Nikhil’s side).

From the questions it appeared a hostile audience to Antony and me.  I had that queasy feeling you don’t like when you’ve volunteered for a competition just for the fun of it, then suddenly realise you could lose in front of all your friends.  How can one’s self-esteem ever recover?

Now you can see me in full ‘must win’ mode, or as my friend George Littlejohn would have it – “Michael could be up for playing Churchill come the next biopic.”

City Debate 2018

Thus it was a genuine surprise, and relief, to find that we moved the audience significantly to our side, 73% to 27%.  Whew.

In case my position had anything to do with swaying opinion, I set out the case against, below:

“This House Believes That Fintech Will Save The City” (NOT)

Lord Mayor Locum Tenens, Your Excellencies, Fellow Aldermen, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.

You heard Antony’s compelling words.  My argument balances his.  If Fintech doesn’t destroy you, then … Fintech will remain, a small comfortable parasite on the technology and trade centre that is our global City.  So what is the City, what is Fintech, what needs saving?

Yesterday, the Inspector of Ancient Monuments assured me that London’s archaeological evidence proves over 100,000 years of trading.  I ask you, many of you too also ancient monuments before me, to join together and take a long-term perspective.  Bloomberg across the road sits above two millennia of Londinium.  We convene over a millennium old stocks market.  Gresham’s Royal Exchange opposite is over 450 years old.

With the tragic exception of Edward I’s expulsion of the Jews in 1290, what distinguishes London is that, by comparison, it has treated all comers from outside the walls fairly, so long as they adhere to “meum fidem, meum pactum”.  Lombards, Huguenots, Rothschilds, Warburgs … Mainellis.

We are an SME City.  24,000 businesses provide 483,000 jobs in the square mile, with 1,200 more each year.  Yes, 250 firms provide 50% of the jobs, but they work with 23,750 deal-making SMEs.  Large and small produce 3% of UK GVA from less than 1.5% of the workforce, three quarters of the UK’s services trade surplus, some £68bn.

Urban legends mislead us.  The City was a deal centre before and after WWI, but was a feeble financial centre from 1939.  The finance legend was kept alive by Italians and Americans, Autostrade in 1963 creating Eurobond markets on neutral territory.  When Thatcher lifted exchange controls in 1979 and Big Bang broke cartels, financial services boomed.  Most of today’s behemoths were SMEs 30 years ago.  Bloomberg dates to just 1981.

You’ve heard of a Baker’s Dozen, 13?  I recently learned that a Banker’s Dozen is 11.  Just seven banks, not even 11, gets you to over 95% UK market share.  Cartels remain.  Domestic banks pursue a decades old, yet rational, strategy of hampering account switching.  If you want to be a success in retail Fintech, go to a country with over a thousand banks, Germany, or over six thousand banks, America.  Make some marketing director’s career rather than annoy a UK bank strategist.

Our retail fintech story is government lies for children, baubles with no Christmas tree:

  • M-Pesa in Kenya dates to 2007, eight years before the UK notices Fintech.
  • Retail Fintech kids unable to afford desks sit in Level 39 beside the compliance & admin battery hens of Canary Wharf, while Berlin, a quarter our size and not a global financial centre, raises more Fintech finance than we do.
  • China has 13 Fintech unicorns to our four. Even that requires forward-dating things like WorldPay, 1995, just to  fake our numbers up.

Then we put our regulator in charge of a sandbox, letting government bottlenecks choose our winners.  Any country whose regulator is in charge of innovation has deep problems.  The wider City is lawyers, accountants, maritime, insurers, not a fintech pimple.

Google Trends awards the term ‘Fintech’ around 100 points.  In January 2015 it was an insignificant six points.  Our government claims creation of a sector it didn’t even notice four years ago, putting some mobile app lipstick on the antiquated systems of some oligopolistic banks.

I came to the City in 1984 to put computer technology into Messels, then Shearson-Lehman-Amex.  We old-timers should celebrate the progress of automating wholesale finance.  We’ve been doing real Fintech long before this insulting term was mashed up.  It’s as facile as saying your heartbeat keeps you from dying.

London is a science & tech city.  From Tudor ‘New Learning’ to Gresham College, Francis Bacon, the Royal Society, Industrial Revolution, Wheatstone telegraph, or DNA (the work was done at Kings, not Cambridge), London has been at least as much about science & tech trade as it has been about finance.  Technology-Media-Telecomms is a significantly larger percentage of firms under 100 employees than finance, insurance, or professional services.  Our centuries of tech drive regtech, instech, arttech, filmtech, songtech, medtech, edtech, traveltech.

Finance moves with technology too, from cuneiform to papyri to tally sticks to spreadsheets to databases and now databases-plus, smart or distributed ledgers, blockchains.  But smart ledgers are ‘wide tech’ for identity, documentation, and agreement exchanges, not just payments.  Tech is for all sectors and the City of London is the most intense place on the planet to do tech deals.

So does the City need saving from Brexit, the wider UK, perhaps AI?  To paraphrase Streisand, “people who need to trade with people, make London the luckiest City in the world”.  As long as we focus on face-to-face, commercial, global deal-making that AI and telecoms can’t replace, deal support will thrive, from financial and professional services to hotels, culture, healthcare, or entertainment.

With or without Brexit, we need quality education and training, health, infrastructure, broadband; airports (plural); an in-visa-ble as possible access to people; a functioning housing market; a simple tax system.  If Britain is open for business, try opening a bank account.  What always needs saving is the rule of law, innovation, and open deal-making.  We are deficient, but not desperate; in danger of having our Emperor’s clothes disrobed, but with time to knit some new garments.

In conclusion, profound changes would be needed to even start to be a standalone Fintech centre.  Silicon Valley, in total, is still only half the size of London.  Fintech propaganda hides three decades of wholesale finance automation.  Our real strength is over 500 years of wider technology and open trade.  Sell Trade in Tech not Fintech.

So, do you vote for deep tech or mobile gimmicks, do you vote for City deals or for Canary Wharf turkeys, do you vote for people or machines?  Our centuries of success are built on growing SMEs in open, global trade, not some three year old government mashup.  Please vote for yourselves, the deal-makers of London, not this facile motion.

References

https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/business/economic-research-and-information/research-publications/Documents/research%202016/Clusters-and-connectivity-finalV2.pdf

https://www.cbinsights.com/research-unicorn-exits

Cashing In On Christmas

Over the past two years Elisabeth and I became a bit deranged in our support for the British Red Cross Christmas Market at Guildhall.  We saw Christmas market competition everywhere.  If you look around City streets you too will see some cheeky red signs for a chain of Christmas convenience stores.  Their name?  Pret a Manger!

So what were the results?  Well, here’s a photo of HRH Princess Alexandra opening the event with the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor Charles Bowman:

You can see two co-Chairmen, Elisabeth and me, in the background starting to become more relieved.  Overall, how could we not be delighted with the event?  The Monday night ‘production’ was superb.  The stalls, livery and commercial, were stunning and fun.  HRH Princess Alexandra shopped as never before – over two hours.  There were some hiccups, errant and elusive stall tablecloths on Sunday come to mind.  Credit card machines worked significantly better than before, and always a few niggles.

Total income was circa £155,000, slightly behind 2015 yet remaining slightly ahead of 2013.  The Monday night had significantly higher ticket sales than ever before, showing staunch City support. A few remarks about Christmas retailing may help place the results in context.  ‘Black Friday’ (US retailers giving sharp price reductions after Thanksgiving) has plopped itself down just before the our Christmas Market over the past decade, while ‘Cyber Monday’ (another severe discount day begun a decade ago to encourage online sales) has plopped itself down on opening day.  And 2017 is the first time since 2006 that Christmas itself falls on a Monday.  This ‘Christmas on Monday’ effect is quite important as major retailers typically find sales lag by approximate three days.  Against the background of increasingly tough competition and price wars, our biennial ‘amateur’ pop-up market amazes many professionals.

What made the whole event so special for both of us was our entire City community coming together for charity and comradeship in such a convivial and generous way.  It is impossible to imagine a more wonderful way to celebrate Christmas than doing something for the common good with dear friends.  We shall always treasure that memory.  And that welcome text in full:

Your Royal Highness, My Lord Mayor, My Lords, Your Excellencies, Aldermen, Sheriffs, Masters, Fellow Liverymen, Ladies & Gentlemen.  Welcome to the Wonderful 2017 British Red Cross Christmas Market at Guildhall.  Yet again we have our traditional festive market and innovations sucha as a German Weihnachtsmarkt and a Foodiefest.

We cannot thank so many supporters enough.  We extend our sincere thanks for the long-standing royal support, and dedicated shopping, of British Red Cross Deputy President HRH Princess Alexandra.  We thank the entire Red Cross team, represented here by Lady Lamport, and project managers Laura Deacon and Kerry Thomas who led the work programme these past 24 months.

There is a very special relationship between the British Red Cross and the City of London, starting with the City’s stalwart support of emergency appeals.  The Rt Honourable the Lord Mayor Charles Bowman and Lady Mayoress Samantha Bowman are Patron and Chairman respectively of the City of London Sector of the British Red Cross.  The late Lord Mayor, Dr Andrew Parmley, and his wife Wendy, conducted several appeals to help us raise funds for these two days. 

Over the past two years Elisabeth and I became a bit deranged in our support.  We saw Christmas market competition everywhere.  If you look around City streets you too will see some cheeky red signs for a chain of Christmas convenience stores.  Their name?  Pret a Manger.

The Corporation donates this magnificent and valued venue and our Civic Team turns up in force with our Sheriffs Tim Hailes and Neil Redcliffe.  Of course, Neil and his wife Emma were the former Chairmen and handed on this Market in wonderful shape back in 2015. Our Chief Commoner, Wendy Meade, is resplendent here tonight, yesterday in mufti along with numerous members of the Civic Team, Aldermen, Commoners, and Guildhall staff.

Our wider City community includes the Pikemen & Musketeers, The Light Cavalry, Colin Sayer of Seasoned Events, Livery Companies, Ward Clubs, the City Livery Club, Guild of Freemen, and City Guides – who have supported the Market these many years.  City stalls donate 100% of their takings to the Red Cross.

As Master World Trader this year, what distinguishes this event is that the Steering Committee and Main Committee, run a genuine market, and we thank the numerous Patrons who gave their support, their time, their goods, and their cash.

We also thank the stallholders, accountants, runners, lifters, drivers, and musicians.  A wonderful addition has been the numerous Embassies participating, while celebrities such as Loyd Grossman and Cyrus Todiwala give glamour to the Foodiefest and Aleppo Supper Club.  The BBC Antiques Roadshow Team are here in force, as is artist Jeremy Houghton.

Jean-Henri Dunant witnessed 40,000 dead or wounded at the Battle of Solferino, that led to him forming the Red Cross in 1863.  Just seven years later the British Red Cross began.  The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are, as part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters, and emergencies.  Today the British Red Cross has 32,500 volunteers and 3,500 staff disbursing a quarter of a billion pounds annually.

But none of this would be possible without support from the public and you here tonight, all of us.  Our Christmas Market helps to make a difference. May the British Red Cross flourish until we do have Peace on Earth and Goodwill Toward Men.

So join me in wishing everyone here for these two days Merry Shopping and Happy Christmas.

Thank you.

From Archives To Modern Lives – Deep In The King’s College Scientific Archives

From Archives to Modern Lives: Frontiers of Trade and Technology
A survey of past and present innovation in association with King’s College London Archives, Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Surprisingly for some, London is, and almost always has been, a science city.  From the Gresham College days of the Tudor ‘New Learning’, Francis Bacon, the foundation of the Royal Society and on to the Industrial Revolution, genetics and even ‘fintech’, London has been at least as much about science & technology as it has been about trade & finance.

The World Traders had a wonderful day indeed.  Our main event, from 15:00 to 17:30, consisted of fully-illustrated presentations by six distinguished speakers, each at the very top of his or her own area of expertise. They referenced key objects of lasting scientific importance from King’s College London.

We handled numerous artefacts ranging from the original Wheatstone Telegraph of 1837 to the original DNA photo, “Photo 51”, to Barbara Cartland and Ted Hughes and Alan Ginsburg materials. Dr Brian May (yes, of Queen!) is an enormous fan of stereoscopy, heading up The London Stereoscopic Company http://www.londonstereo.com/, and created a 3D film for us. It feels like serious Livery one-up-person-ship that we can brag, “as we wore our 3D glasses Dr May leaped out from the screen to ‘Greet the Worshipful Company of World Traders’”.

The reception and dinner were on the eighth floor of Bush House in Aldwych (a building recently taken over by KCL, previously occupied by the BBC) with dramatic views from the City to Wesminster.

Wheatstone’s Cryptographs and Cipher

The full programme:

15:00 for 15:15      Reception, 1st Floor, Bush House, 101 (Auditorium)

15:15 – 15:30          Welcome
Deborah Bull, Assistant Principal King’s College London

                               Introduction
Dr Jessica Borge & Dr Geoff Browell

15:30 – 16:15         Computer Code
Artefact:                  Wheatstone’s Cryptographs and Cipher Post/ Telegraph TBC
Dr Jamie Barras
Professor Mischa Dohler

16:15 – 17:00          Life Code
Artefact:                   Photograph 51 TBC
Professor David Edgerton
Professor Karen Steel

17:00 – 17:45          Visual Code
Artefact:                   Wheatstone’s Stereoscope TBC
Denis Pellerin
Professor Reza Razavi

17:45 – 18:00          Concluding Remarks
Dr Geoff Browell

18:00 – 19:00          Drinks, 8th Floor, Bush House (South)

19:00 – 21:30          Dinner, 8th Floor, Bush House (North)
Guest Speaker: Dr Carina Fearnley

Master Of The World! … Traders…

What an honour, and a delight!  I was so pleased to be installed as Master of the World Traders on Wednesday, 25 October.

The Installation Dinner was a significant event for Elisabeth, my daughters Maxine and Xenia, our friends, and me.  The Company assembled a glittering array of guests, expertly marshalled by our Clerk and Beadles into a warm combination of ceremony and celebration.  At the ceremonial court we thanked Robert and Barbara for their hard work and most successful year, admitted 11 freemen and 5 liverymen, taking the Company over 300 members.  We awarded our first Honorary Liveryman of the Company to the Secretary General of the Commonwealth, Baroness Scotland, who was our Tacitus Lecturer in 2015.  We dined, basking  in wonderful music by CLS Close Harmony, later hearing Baroness Scotland’s thoughts on trade and the Commonwealth.  As the Germans might say, “sehr gemütlich”!

My dear friend, Immediate Past Master, Robert Woodthorpe Browne, performing the installation ceremony.

The text of my Toast To The Guests:

Master, Wardens, High Commissioner, My Lords, Aldermen, Ladies and Gentlemen.  This wonderful evening in Sir David Lewis’ and my Aldermanic Ward of Broad Street, next to Austin Friars and the Dutch Church, means so very much to Elisabeth and me, for it encompasses past, present, and future, friends and family.  Our feelings tonight are the subject of so many songs, from Karen Carpenter to one of my daughter’s favourites, Imagine Dragons, “We’re on top of the world”.

In 2006 past Master Jack Wigglesworth asked me to fill the spot Baroness Scotland had tonight with her insightful comments on the Commonwealth and Trade.  It was in this very Drapers’ Hall that he and Carlotta turned up the volume on their own CD and press-ganged me into the Company.  We’ve all had the honour of watching our Company grow under the stewardship of ten masters since, till this year we surpassed 300 members today under the direction of Michael Shapiro.  Our immediate immediate past Master, Wendy Hyde, invigorated our City connections.  The immediate past Master, Robert Woodthorpe Browne and his wife Barbara connected us with the varied and fascinating markets of London.

Baroness Partricia Scotland QC, Secretary General of the Commonwealth, receiving her Honorary Freedom of the Livery

For me, the present is coming to grips with being Master.  This City is full of Ironmongers, Fishmongers, Costermongers, Cheesemongers, and even Fearmongers.  What is Master of the World Traders?  Perhaps we should be the WorldMongers or GlobeMongers.  Around the same year that I was doing that talk for Jack, one of my daughters had to speak at school about her parents’ professions.  Did she want to talk about Daddy the scientist, the accountant, securities professional, or computer expert?  Certainly not Daddy the management consultant.  Who could ever explain that?  No, she chose the easy option and belted out to the entire class at full volume, “My Daddy is a World Trader”.

Now that I’m Master, I hope to explain our Company to everyone.  Wouldn’t it be nice to fulfil David Bowie’s lyrics – “You’re face to face, With the man who sold the world”.  I think my catchphrase might be “Psssst.  Hey Buddy, want to buy a planet?”

But the future is a tough sell these days.  We have creaking constitutions, Brexit, America First, WTO problems, let alone North Korean missiles, nuclear proliferation, hurricanes, and pandemic bugs.  Strangely, there are people who try to put a value on Earth.  $3,000 trillion is one number.  $5 quadrillion another.  Could we find some other species to sell it to and get thrown into the vacuum of space with huge wads of cash?  Could we use the proceeds to buy a slightly more upmarket planet with even nicer fjords in a better neighbourhood?  No, we need to succeed with what we have.  Ian Harris and I wrote a book, The Price of Fish: A New Approach to Wicked Economics and Better Decisions, pointing out that our core challenge as a species is “To live successfully with each other in a shrinking planet”.  Technology is essential to that hopeful success and thus our theme this year is “Trade & Technology”.

Mankind uses tools to control our environment, our planet, and our aspirations for our universe.  Technology is our distinguishing feature.  But it’s not all progress.  Douglas Adams notes: “Technology is a word that describes something that doesn’t work yet.”  “We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.  How do you recognize something that is still technology?  A good clue is if it comes with a manual.”  As Tears & Fears sang, “Nothing ever lasts forever, Everybody wants to rule the world”.

Before you should be a small gift from Elisabeth and me – technology that should help you get “a detailed grip on the big picture”, or perhaps a “big picture grip on the details”.  It’s a lens cloth or ‘screen wiper’ to help you see technology more clearly.  Hopefully it’s still held together by a humble clothes-pin.  In so many ways, technology is about taking back control from the environment, for clothes-pins that’s control of the wind.  Jérémie Victor Opdebec sneakily took out a patent for the dolly peg in 1809.  Two guys from Vermont blew that old tech apart.  In 1853 David M Smith’s “new and useful or improved…spring clamp for clothes lines” became the modern articulated peg, somewhat anthropomorphic and erotic according to the Economist, in harmonious opposition “the two longer legs may be moved toward each other and at the same time move the shorter ones apart”.

As a Professor, tonight I have to ask you an examination question about installations – How many World Traders does it take to install a light bulb?  The Answer: None, Adam Smith’s invisible hand will do it all.  Unfortunately the joke’s wrong, free markets need help.  If ever a year cried out for World Traders, it might be this.  Just the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) next April and our Brexit uncertainties place trade & technology in the forefront of the nation’s future.

All liveries are committed to civic commerce, community, and charity based around fellowship.  So what are World Traders going to do in 2017 and 2018?

Our theme is “Motivate, Create, Celebrate”.  On commerce, we respond to members who asked for more intellectual content about trade, going right back to our founding by Peter Drew in St Katharine’s Dock.

  • Trade has been as much science as finance. You must book 15 November– “From Archives to Modern Lives: Frontiers of Trade and Technology”.  You’ll have a chance to hold Photo 51, the original DNA image, and celebrate London technology from Thomas Gresham’s New Learning to the Royal Society and the modern era at Kings College.
  • On 21 March we debate “Technology & Trade In The Commonwealth”, with the post-graduates at Eric Tracey’s Goodenough College, co-hosted by the Commonwealth Enterprise & Investment Council.
  • On 22 February Dr Nathan Myhrvold delivers our Tacitus Lecture for Nick Mayhew, Jan Dawson, and the team. The renowned and controversial scientist, founder of Microsoft Research, and now founder and CEO of Intellectual Ventures with over 95,000 patents and strong views on patent trolling and geo-engineering is also an extreme cuisine scientific foodie colleague of Heston Blumenthal.
  • We are commissioning a research publication on the value of smart ledgers to world trade, are working with an ISO group on a qualification for World Trade, and will have number of other events looking in on the natural, life, formal, and applied sciences & technologies of our City.

On community, our Learned Clerk, Gaye Duffy, will nimbly execute a complex series of traditional events, but we want to be an even more tech savvy Company.  Our Communications Committee, led by Zoë Buckingham, has already developed a member-led website, will soon implement a new membership system, and also deploy charity and events systems inclusive of non-members.  We shall experiment more with social media and online meeting technology and produce a short World Traders’ video.  Our overseas trip this year will be to Dublin where the Irish government and the Industrial Development Authority are hosting us at Iveagh House, we’ll stay at Trinity College Dublin, one of my alma maters, and we’ll participate in Bloomsday, the annual celebration of Joyce’s Ulysses.  Our Education Committee under Sue Algeo is educating us at Gresham College events.

On charity, perhaps in anticipation of our Dublin Trip, Simon Maddox, the Events Committee, and the Court call on all members to support our attempt to break a Guinness World Record – “The Most Nationalities In A Simultaneous Popular Music Sing-along”.  Our attempt is scheduled for 16:00 on Monday, 27 November 2017 at St Lawrence Jewry Church, Guildhall Yard, just before the grand opening of the British Red Cross Christmas Market at Guildhall.  The challenge song is John Lennon’s “Imagine”, along with a Christmas Carol and a ‘trade song’ (suggestions welcomed). London Business School set the last record in 2016 with 72 nationalities; we need 101 for obvious reasons.  The proceeds go to the Red Cross, St Lawrence, and our charitable trust.

One of my favourite comedians, the surreal Steve Wright, said, “It’s a small world, but I wouldn’t want to have to paint it.”  Robert and Barbara painted a magnificent world in their year.  Elisabeth and I can’t top that, but perhaps we can paint a tech perspective on trade.  One thing I’ve learned about our Company over the years comes from Take That – “If you stay by our sides, we can rule the world.”

Tradereaps economic benefits from specialisation and comparative advantage, creates prosperity, distributes success and wealth, and collectively enriches all of our societies and communities.  Trust underpins all trade and investment, firmly based on the City of London’s motto, “Meum Fidem, Meum Pactum” (“my word is my bond”).

As I said, all liveries are committed to civic community, commerce and charity based around fellowship.  Our fellowship is cemented by having our friends over as guests.

I ask the Company and Guests to rise together and drink the Company’s toast inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s inaugural address of 1801, “COMMERCE AND HONEST FRIENDSHIP WITH ALL.”

11 new freemen and 5 new liverymen take us over 300 members.

May I thank one and all most sincerely for your immense support.  I had some big trepidations, possibly only surpassed at a certain ceremony with Elisabeth some two decades back, but wound up enjoying the evening enormously and being so proud of our Company.

London Forever! Reality Or Rhetoric?

The Financial Services Group of Livery Companies asked me to provide an inaugural FSG Lecture in memory of its Founding Convenor, Jeremy Goford, Past Master Actuary“London Forever! Reality or Rhetoric?”  I was pleased to deliver it on Wednesday, 20 September 2017 at
Mercers’ Hall, London.Though I met him late in life throiugh the livery movement, Jeremy and I enjoyed many conversations and disputations on the auditing, accounting, and actuarial professions, especially their use of numbers. Jeremy’s love of our City was palpable.  I was delighted that the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies chose to honour his memory with this inaugural lecture,  While you can read the full transcript, with slides – Jeremy Goford Memorial Lecture – London Forever – Reality or Rhetoric 2017.09.20 v1.3

a summary was published in Fintech Finance on 25 September, reproduced below:

London Forever! Reality Or Rhetoric?

This month, Z/Yen Group, published the 22nd edition of the Global Financial Centres Index.  GFCI 22 showed almost all major financial centres following the downward lurch of London and New York in GFCI 21.  In the top 20, only Frankfurt rose, quite significantly due to many London bank announcements of headquarter moves.

Finance only exists to support the ‘real economy’ of commerce and trade.  This telling tumble among financial centres is due to fears over trade, not finance.  ‘America First’, isolationist rhetoric damages perceptions of future US trade, while Brexit rhetoric harms perceptions of UK and European trade.

With so much changing, it is right to ask whether London will forever be the premier global centre for professional, business, and financial services.  Financial centres do rise and fall, from Amsterdam to Izmir to Zanzibar.  The 1375 Catalan Atlas of the known world by Abraham Cresques of Mallorca has an inscription: “This lord is Musa Mali .., so abundant is the gold which is found in his country that he is the richest and most noble king in all the land.”  Musa hailed from Timbuktu in today’s Mali.

London’s five centuries of success are due to a sustained confluence of several factors, the ‘accidental’ ones being maritime location, early infrastructure, Continental wars, and the rise of the USA over the past century.  Our index comprises well over 100 ‘intentional’ factors, but I would emphasise the business environment, a trading culture, and the rule of law.   However, people like simple answers, not statistics. So just two things, structural intensity and fair treatment.

All cities are intense, but structural intensity is special to the City of London.  With only 9,000 residents and 450,000 commuting workers, it’s a 98% chance anyone you meet on the street is working.  And Crossrail’s success will raise that chance to 99%.  A temperate climate, twisting alleyways, and numerous drinking places ensured that from the time of the Tudors financial workers met each other frequently.  From pubs to coffee shops to Americano & Cappucino networking centres, supplemented by air transport and IT.

While the UK’s £61 billion trade surplus from financial services is exported via electronic pipes, deals need face-to-face trust to start, and often to complete.  We need to keep raising that intensity of contact as the City of London Corporation is doing by planning for significantly more pedestrians.  Video-conferencing supplements deals, but we still need to meet, often unplanned.

The belief that all comers will be treated fairly has been a London success factor since the 1290 mistake of expelling the Jews.  London’s subsequent welcoming history needs no recounting, from Lombards of old to welcoming back the Jews in 1655 to today’s Syrians.  All were increasingly treated with the same commercial rights as Englishmen.  Rule of law is crucial, but long before anyone goes near a court, any nation that wishes to prosper must trade from an open and competitive environment.  Competition needs a well-educated populace with a state sector preventing cartels, barriers-to-entry, information asymmetries, and agency problems, while not crowding-out markets.

If we get our own house in order, trade will come.  Brexit doesn’t change the basics.  You can’t be an international centre without international people.  Successful people want to live in successful places.  Successful places are cosmopolitan.  Reputation is vital: 20 years to build and five minutes to ruin.  We have problems certainly.  If Britain is open for business, try opening a bank account.

We have problems certainly.  If Britain is open for business, try opening a bank account.  With or without Brexit, we need to stimulate investment in quality education and training, health, infrastructure, broadband; sort out the airports (plural), make the nation as ‘visa less’ to get to as possible, make financial account-opening a one minute process, create a competitive housing market, simplify the tax system, and so on.  Brexit adds the complexity of ‘transition’ being woefully unclear, ‘trade’ structures breaking down, and welcoming ‘talent’ uncertain.  So we need swift decisions on timing, on terms-of-trade, and talent, for example stop prevaricating on EU nationals’ and students’ status.

Our reality must rise to meet our rhetoric, but it was ever thus.  In the history of London we see the truth of Aldous Huxley’s comment, “The charm of history and its enigmatic lesson consist in the fact that, from age to age, nothing changes and yet everything is completely different.”  Making London a great place to live solves most problems.  We need to be honest about our faults and not let false rhetoric impede fixing them.  We are deficient in some areas, but not desperate; in danger of having our Emperor’s clothes disrobed, but with time to knit some new garments.

We’ve been being told for well over a year what we supposedly voted for in a non-binding referendum.  Whatever, the vote was certainly a vote for change.  Quality guru W Edwards Deming sets a low bar for the lazy: “It is not necessary to change.  Survival is not mandatory.”  I am sceptical about claims that we businesspeople will find fabulous fortunes hitherto overlooked in far-flung foreign lands, but I am very positive the closest opportunity is change for the better at home, toward improved structural intensity and fair competition.  Londoners are certainly not lazy.

Trade reaps economic benefits from specialisation and comparative advantage.  Trade creates prosperity, shares success, and enriches our environment.  Trust holds all trade relationships together.  The clearest sign of trust is that people want to live and work in London and the UK.  If we keep that, we keep everything, including the top spot a century from now in Global Financial Centres Index 222.

Equilex – 22 September 2017

So there you are, waiting for the Christ’s Hospital annual St Matthew’s Day parade through the City of London.   St Matthew’s Day, traditionally 21 September, is held to save the souls of accountants, bankers and tax collectors, i.e. money men (well, to ruin a good theme, perfumers too).  Over the past decade, thie service beforehand and the parade have been great fun, following the students through rain or shine as one of the finest marching bands in the UK leads you forward.  It all ends at Guildhall where the students meet the Lord Mayor and receive their ‘largesse’, a coin fresh from the Royal Mint, before heading to lunch.

As an Almoner, you’ve been inside St Sepulchre-without Newgate, the musicians’ church for the service.  The service is always uplifting.  Surrounded by hundreds of pupils who really know how to sing, you can let loose with total abandon and release both of your notes.

Outside the church just before 12:30, you spy a strange shape on the footpath creeping towards you.  Suddenly you realise it is the shadow of Lady Justice (iustitia) from the Old Bailey on the opposite side of the street.  You swing round 180 degrees and point and shoot.  And you take this snap:

Glorious, eh?  And then you realise it’s the equinox.  Excellent timing and titling.  And many thanks to your mobile phone.  Then you can return to events and marching through the streets:

Who knows, perhaps a small, smelly splinter of my soul was saved.