Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors Installation Dinner
Alderman & Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli, Merchant Taylors’ Hall, City of London, Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Master, Wardens, My Lord, Alderman, Brother Sheriff, Liverymen, Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of us all, may I express our genuine pleasure to be your guests. I thought I might just explain the presence of so many Masters from the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies.
The Financial Services Group of Livery Companies comprises 13 companies of the modern city – World Traders, Marketors, Secretaries, Actuaries, Accountants, Insurers, Arbitrators, Information Technologists, Solicitors, Management Consultants, International Bankers, Tax Advisors, and even the Surveyors.
As a World Trader I had the privilege of travelling along with your Master and the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies through China during a sweltering August. In ten days we visited five cites, Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Nanjing, and Shanghai, to talk trade in temperatures approaching 35 degrees. Our objective, well overachieved, was to develop trade connections.
Your Master, John, was an integral part of this mission. While we shared our love of fishing, shooting, and sailing the Little Britain, as well as the property trade – I chaired a property & construction company for nine years – I asked him why Chartered Surveyors mattered. He pointed out that the new Secretary of State for International Trade was in the property & construction trade too. Her name? Liz, Liz Truss.
During that journey we discovered that there is great appetite for more trade with China than we imagine. The City of London is rising to that challenge, our 25,000 City businesses do that as a matter of course, and the Corporation too, but increasingly the livery companies are supporting international trade, whether it’s the FSG, or companies such as the Clothworkers sponsoring SME stands in Paris, the Salters chemistry, Fanmakers aerospace, or Horners plastics.
Actually, all Masters suffer trying to control Companies of entrepreneurial individualists. One of your former Masters, you know whom, retired to be a stable boy. I went to interview him for tonight’s talk. I asked him, “you were an enormously successful property professional. You were a powerful man, bossing around your fellow liverymen. Now, you feed horses and clean out stables. How do you feel about that?”
He answered, “Greatly relieved. As Master of the Chartered Surveyors, when I addressed my Company all the liverymen ignored me. Here, in the stables, all the horses obey me. It’s refreshingly different to deal with horses rather than people. Here in the stables, “I’m Master of all I serve hay”.
The Corporation is extremely active in promoting the City in all its aspects, creating prosperity, sharing success, and enriching our environment. Our Lord Mayor elect will spend 100 days abroad in 25 countries spreading his message of “Global UK – Trade, Innovation, Culture”. As well as our focus on trade, the Corporation remains one of the largest Corporation remains one of the largest supporters of culture in the country. The Corporation is the fourth largest investor in the arts after the Government, the BBC, and the Heritage Lottery Fund. It invests in the Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra, the Museum of London, Guildhall School of Music & Drama, and Guildhall Art Gallery.
As Sheriffs, Chris and I spend the year promoting the importance of the rule of law. Not just criminal law, though we do reside at the Old Bailey, but commercial law, arbitration, mediation, and expert determination. Interestingly, I recently met an offshore financial centre lawyer. His elevator pitch was that he was a human rights lawyer. He protects people’s privacy and property.
Your profession has a key role in the rule of law. You protect property rights. What is more ‘real property’ than ‘real estate’ and the buildings we erect upon it. Now we all have our surveyor horror stories, currently a party wall is causing one friend untold grief, but there are heart-warming instances where your profession truly helps people, making a profound positive difference to their lives.
I’m reminded of a Scottish couple who lived just north of the Border. A surveyor came round to inform them that a more accurate survey showed they actually lived in England. The surveyor started to apologise for the bad news, but the wife interrupted him. “That’s great news”, she said. “I don’t think I could have taken another freezing cold Scottish winter”.
Well, Master, after tonight’s warm and welcoming dinner, I think we could all withstand one cold night in Scotland, but may I ask everyone to rise and drink a toast to the “Worshipful Company of Chartered Surveyors, may it flourish root & branch”, coupled with the name of the Master.