Tonight, Charles Bowman hosts his first Banquet as the 690th lord mayor of the City of London.
The job of representing the City’s interests, at home and overseas, now falls to this engaging PwC veteran.
Bowman has his work cut out for him. While Theresa May and her team have made slow progress in moving the EU towards trade talks, British companies are clamouring for certainty and reassurance.
But politicians are not the only ones who can forge deals. As lord mayor, Bowman will tour the world – to the EU and beyond – and speak directly to our partners overseas about the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. His predecessor, Andrew Parmley, travelled from Kazakhstan to Nepal, talking about trade, tourism, and potential areas for cooperation. It is reassuring to know that Bowman, an experienced operator, will do the same. His first international trip – to Saudi Arabia and the UAE – is already booked for December.
Beyond Brexit, the task of rebuilding trust in business is also known to be one of Bowman’s priorities. At a time when capitalism is in crisis, when the leader of one major party wants to tear it down and the leader of the other does not have the courage to defend it, business is in need of strong advocates. For too many people, commerce is a dirty word. Business is scapegoated for all society’s ills, and the benefits of a market economy remain unsung. Changing the perception (and, where necessary, the behaviour) of big business, especially the financial services sector, has never been more crucial.
Bowman has also said he wants to focus on continuing with the initiatives championed by the last lord mayor on social mobility, diversity, and corporate responsibility. Though they rarely get the credit they deserve, City firms have been making huge strides in these areas, with apprenticeship schemes, charity partnerships, governance reforms, and a range of green initiatives to improve London’s environment. Under his direction, there is further scope for companies to really make a positive difference to London life.
As leadership in Westminster diminishes, it is vital that London has a leader in the Guildhall, an ambassador to represent the City’s interests on the world stage. We wish Bowman a successful and influential year in office, championing this truly global city.