Gifford named as the new lord of the Mansion

IT was all change in the City yesterday as Alderman Roger Gifford was elected as the 685th Lord Mayor of the City of London. Gifford got his shout out, quite literally, as tradition dictates eligible Sheriffs are paraded in front of the liverymen at the Guildhall before being voted in by the archaic tradition of shouting out.

The process, by this stage, is largely an exercise in pomp and ceremony, with the Court of Alderman already having let its preference in candidate be known. Gifford was in contention for the position two years ago but lost out to Michael Bear. He will replace current Lord Mayor David Wootton – who was also thwarted in that same election – on 9 November.

The patience he’s shown so far is a virtue that could come in handy for Gifford, the first banker to take on the position for quite some time.

The Oxford alumnus mused on this after the election, keen to pick up the baton from bank chiefs who have recently been keen to commit to a change of culture in the sector.

“Next month will mark exactly 30 years since I joined SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Bank),” he said. “The focus of my year in office will be to underline that service is, and must be, at the heart of the financial services industry of the UK ... the City must serve society – and be seen to do so.”

Aiding the Lord Mayor elect are two new Sheriffs of London, Alderman Jeffrey Evans and Nigel Pullman, who took office last Friday.

Both are highly qualified counsel – Evans is an economist and Cambridge graduate, while Pullman, after retiring from the armed forces, spent 20 years in management at the Financial Times, downstream from City A.M’s own hallowed halls.

■ CITY firms feeling the squeeze have been offered a new way to save millions of pounds by extra-marital affairs website IllicitEncounters.com. After some no-doubt thorough statistical research the website has revealed that 28 per cent of workers it surveyed have slept with a superior – a transgression it says can lead to harassment complaints, not to mention “countless headaches for human resources”. And with the financial sector apparently one of the most rampant industries for interoffice relationships, perhaps it would be better dubbed the not-so-Square Mile. But while The Capitalist is in no doubt there are savings to be made in productivity by moving office-based affairs to the internet, now might not be the best time to add online philandering to the list of things threatening the City’s reputation.

■ WITH its widely advertised Stoptober campaign, the NHS has made it clear it wants us to all stop smoking for October. Obviously they haven't been inhaling the tobacco cocktails tucked away at Barts in Chelsea Cloisters quite as fast as The Capitalist, but I digress. To celebrate, broker Investec has responded by going long on UK tobaccos; upgrading British American Tobacco (BATS) to Buy (from Hold) and renewing its Buy stance on rival Imperial Tobacco. With BATS currently anchored to the bottom of its two-year trend trading band, The Capitalist smells a whiff of bullish Chartism among the tobacco smoke.