Friday, 30 April 2010

Master Actuary risks his reputation

On Monday the Worshipful Company of Actuaries received their Royal Charter from the Earl of Wessex in a splendid event at Mansion House. You can see the list of toasts to the left. The Marketors were "non-objectors" (the quaint name for supporters in Charter matters) to their petition.

I encountered for the first time the concept of Lord Mayor Locum Tenens - this happens when the Lord Mayor is absent (in Romania, less than 24 hours after running in the London Marathon) and asks one of his predecessors (in this instance Alderman Sir John Stuttard) to stand in for him.

The Master, Adrian Waddingham, had just been elected Pensions Personality of the Year. As he said (from memory),
"I am slightly embarrassed that this has come to light in the presence of our professional institute who are guests this evening. They uphold the highest standards of integrity in the profession partly by eliminating all personality from actuarial calculations. So I am at risk of bringing the profession into disrepute!"

Interestingly, the Actuaries have just produced a list of values for their profession. (Reminder: Marketors' values are printed on the inside cover of our Members' Directory.)

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Please get me out of jail!

On 21st May I shall take part in a City fundraising event which is becoming a tradition. Organised by the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress, it is a chance for Livery Company Masters to raise money for the British Red Cross. We are 'arrested and jailed' in the Tower of London until our respective Livery Companies have paid a minimum 'bail' of £1000 (before Gift Aid) all of which goes to the British Red Cross.

Many Marketors have probably donated to one of their special appeals, such as recently for Haiti. This is about raising funds in advance, so that they know they can react instantly to the next call for help. I'd be grateful for any donation that you would be willing to give to support this excellent charity. The link below is the easiest way to do it.

Why Livery Companies support excellence in education 22nd April 2010

Immediate Past Master, Peter Goudge, and I were fortunate enough to be invited to the dinner given by the Lord Mayor as Chancellor of City University. The Marketors' Trust has recently made a substantial donation to Cass Business School (part of City University) to fund a new scholarship for an MBA student.

Why do Livery Companies support education through prizes and scholarships and the like?
"We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise....We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities."

You only have to look at the league tables of international financial centres to see that one of the top drivers of success is having a diverse population of skilled and experienced professionals from a wide range of service industries in one place. Such a population needs to be constantly supplied with new talent, qualified from the best professional institutions and universities. City University is one of those, focussing on business, law, engineering and mathematical sciences, journalism, informatics, music and social, community and health sciences. It has strong links with industry, an enviable record of placing graduates in good careers and an international culture.

In our small way, we are enablers of one of the critical success factors of the City of London.

Stories and a serious point from a former Lord Mayor 21st April 2010

This is Sir John Stuttard in his Lord Mayor's parade in November 2006. Last week he gave a talk at the City Livery Club ( where Liveryman Valerie Boakes is Senior Vice-President. It wasn't an occasion when I was formally representing the Marketors but I wanted to learn something new and thought you would enjoy some of his stories.
The Lord Mayor's coach lurches vigorously as the horses which draw it stop and start. Sir John ended the parade with three holes in his head from the pointy bit of wood that you can see in the picture at the top of the window out of which he is leaning. One of the other prices of being Lord Mayor is time - he reckons to have given about 5 full years of voluntary work through serving as an Alderman and member of Common Council (before and after being Lord Mayor) and a Sheriff.
In 1189 when Richard I returned from the crusades - he, and the country, were broke. England had paid 1.5 times its annual income as a ransome (perhaps we have got off lightly with the international financial crisis!) To raise money he sold a stretch of the Thames to the Corporation of London who thereafter earned fees from charges to people who crossed or lived on the bridges. This was the foundation of the City Bridges Trust, still in existence today, which not only maintains the bridges but also donates substantial sums to charity.
And the serious point....there is much political talk at present about immigration. We need to understand the importance to the success of the City of London of having a diverse pool of skilled and experienced people working there. The people who come to the City from abroad are typically studying or working for a defined period; they then return to their home countries. They are not permanent immigrants, they bring tremendous energy and talent to our economy and they return home as ambassadors for "UK Inc." Sir John was keen that we, as liverymen, should do our best to make our overseas visitors warmly welcome.
PS He has written a book about the mayoralty and the business of the City of London, "From Whittington to World Financial Centre", which is a good read.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Mercers' Magical Musical evening Tuesday 20th April

Last night my husband and I were guests of the Mercers (No.1 in the order of precedence) for a Livery Concert. The music was organised by an organisation called Musical Rendezvous, who encourage young musicians in their professional development.

Stars of the night for me were the Chinese violinist, Analiza Ching, whose virtuoso playing was enhanced by her wonderful engagement with the audience - all sparkling eyes, provocative dancing and commentary, as she played!

And Soprano, Melissa Alder, who has a glorious voice and again seemed to connect with us all.

The musical selection was mainly light opera and famous musical theatre hits, loved by all. At the end they even achieved some audience participation - never heard before in the hallowed portals of the Mercers' Hall!

Their accompanist, Toby Cruse, was also outstanding.

For more details or performing opportunities contact Musical Rendezvous through David Owen at

Analiza has her own website

Why Livery Companies support the military services Monday 19th April 2010

Dinner with the Chartered Surveyors' at Stationers' Hall - full house, packed out and buzzy. Significant presence of their three associated service units, one for each service. Noted that these units' work reflected the core surveying skills e.g. geographical, map makers, aerial photographers etc. This is HMS Echo, one of the Royal Navy's ocean survey vessels, supported by the Chartered Surveyors.
The speakers were both retired naval and military senior officers and they emphasised the importance of the "military covenant" between society and the armed services. This unwritten, "psychological contract" is under strain at the moment, as described in this article in The Times that appeared just days after the dinner.
Support from the Livery Companies helps remind our military service people that they are not forgotten and that there are people who care about them, think about them and do things for them and with them.

Marketing and business should be leaders in sustainability - Tony Juniper 13th April 2010

Tony Juniper, the environmental campaigner, who is standing as a Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Green Party in Cambridge, set a challenge to the Marketors at our Spring Lunch last week.
In brief he said that we could not expect Governments to provide leadership on climate change and other environmental issues; nor was it possible for individuals (despite their best personal efforts) to achieve the scale of change needed. But business had the potential to provide the leadership needed to migrate to an intrinsically lower-carbon economy. And as marketing professionals we should provide the inspiration for such leadership.
Tony's speech was clear, straightforward and passionate - and a call to action for Marketors. (He also refrained from making party political points, which was noted by several of the people who wrote to me after the lunch.) Brilliant!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Welcoming home the troops 9th April 2010

On Friday a small group of Marketors were among the families and friends who welcomed home a group of soldiers from our affiliated TA Regiment, who have been serving in Cyprus. They spent several months patrolling the green line between Greek and Turkish Cyprus and making friends with the Hungarian and Argentinian troops who were also serving under the light blue United Nations badge.

It was a hot sunny afternoon and our party shared the garden at a hotel with a wedding. This created a great photo opportunity when the returning soldiers, all in their desert camouflage uniforms, seized the bride (gently!) and carried her for the cameras.

With their own CO, Lt Col Adrian Lee, currently serving in Afghanistan, the honours were done by Brigadier Sheen. He congratulated and thanked the soldiers and especially their families for their willingness to put the interests of the country and the international community ahead of their own. He also thanked the Marketors, both for sponsoring the tea, but more importantly for their encouragement to the Regiment. At a time when the support of the general public for the armed services cannot be taken for granted, it is important to them to know that we are thinking about them and supporting their work.

Frankly, anything that we provide is as nothing compared with what these people do. I am full of admiration for their professionalism, team spirit and cheerful willingness to serve.

Friday, 9 April 2010

9th April 2010 Modernising Makers of Playing Cards

I dined last night as a guest of the Worshipful Company of Makers of Playing Cards, their red and white striped livery ribbons making a delightful, warm splash of colour against their black evening dress. This is completely reflected in the character of the members, who all seem particularly friendly, informal and charming.

Their current Master, Brian Porritt, seems to strike a good balance between tradition and evolution:

Last night they celebrated the career of a Liveryman of 65 years (standing ovation) and installed a lady, who has been the wife and mother of a dynasty of Past Masters, as a Companion of the Company in her own right.

The Master then spoke of the need for the Company to evolve, drawing comparisons with the Fan Makers (who now support industries such as ventilation) and the Horners (who support the plastics industry). For the Makers of Playing Cards, they want to find an appropriate way to engage with the modern online gaming business. Part of their charitable work is to use playing cards to carry messages about the risks of drug and alcohol addiction to young people who are hard to reach through conventional communications media. Imaginative stuff.