Three cheers for the stars of the Square Mile

 
Allister Heath
LAST night was truly an exciting and exceptional occasion: City A.M.’s inaugural awards celebrating the best and brightest of London’s business, financial and investment communities. Our inaugural awards ceremony saw more than 450 guests in their finery roll up at the Grange Hotel at St Pauls.

Our winners, unique in that each was initially chosen based on feedback and responses from people working in the City before being judged by an expert panel of judges made up of the most influential people in the UK financial business community, were announced to a packed room at an awards presentation led by TV presenter Katie Derham.

We examined a broad range of sectors spanning the financial world in all its forms, including banking, law, accounting, fund management and trading, among others, with the aim of singling out the highest achieving businesses, teams and individuals as well as the most promising new kids on the block.

For one thing has always been clear to us: the City of London is a dynamic place full of enterprising, professional, creative people and companies.

London’s economy is a complex ecosystem, in which everybody from investment bankers to corporate lawyers to small start-ups to giant companies plays an essential role in creating wealth, jobs and tax receipts.

The City is truly a global village and those who have helped to position it at the centre of the world’s financial markets deserve recognition for the crucial role they have played in making it a better place.

Our winners are at the forefront of developing new and better business models that are helping to pull Britain out of recession and towards renewed prosperity.

It was a wonderful evening – and proof that there is more to the economic life than just doom and gloom.
allister.heath@cityam.com

PERSONALITY | OF THE YEAR

WINNER
BORIS JOHNSON,
MAYOR OF LONDON

OUR panel was unanimous in its vote for Boris, who was described as a “wild personality, larger than life, and an excellent speaker”. They praised the Mayor for repeatedly speaking out as a lone advocate for London’s financial services community, at a particularly tough time for the industry.

Since he entered City Hall in May 2008, he has faced an increasingly hard time in convincing fellow politicians and the public alike that financial services will play an essential part in returning the UK economy to prosperity.

Yet he has continued to persevere with the arguement – and from chancellor George Osborne’s admission last week that banks would be “driven abroad” if they are taxed to the point of being uncompetitive, it appears that others are finally starting to listen.

Johnson has proved himself unafraid to confront the industry over issues on which reform is needed, most notably on pay. But from the time he travelled to Brussels last autumn to lobby against the EU’s new alternative investment directive, to his impassioned campaign to save Crossrail and upgrades to the Tube network from the worst of the austerity cuts, to his vehement warnings to government that it is “nuts” to bash the industry without recognising its contribution to the public finances and wider economy, Boris Johnson is the self-styled “champion of the City” – and a worthy winner of City A.M.’s first ever personality of the year award.

SHORTLISTED:

BOB DIAMOND,
PRESIDENT OF BARCLAYS

PAUL PINDAR,
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF CAPITA


WILLIE WALSH,
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF BRITISH
AIRWAYS

ANGELA KNIGHT,
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF THE BRITISH BANKERS’ ASSOCIATION

COMPANY | OF THE YEAR

WINNER
BURBERRY

OUR judges were also unanimous in voting Burberry as the company of the year, under the impressive leadership of chief executive Angela Ahrendts.

Ahrendts, a veteran of Liz Claiborne, Henri Bendel and Donna Karan, took up the leader’s mantle at the design house in July 2006, having been an executive director for the six months prior to that.

Since then, she has put the company on a remarkable growth trajectory, continuing to revive the brand which languished not so long ago under the “chav banner” associated with its trademark check.

By this year, when the company reported results in May, Ahrendts had delivered a staggering 23 per cent year-on-year rise in profits to £215m, and is targeting the opening of up to 30 more stores for the current financial year.

In the period since she took the helm, the company's share price on the London Stock Exchange has more than doubled to 1,018p as investors rush to buy into Burberry's success.

Ahrendts’ magic touch has focused largely on injecting Burberry with a dose of freshness and vitality, shaking up the previously traditional, fusty designs to cater to a younger audience and bringing on new faces – notably Harry Potter star Emma Watson – to model for the brand.

Burberry, under her stewardship, is a truly well-deserved winner of City A.M.’s inaugural company of the year award.

SHORTLISTED:

BARCLAYS
UNDER CHIEF
EXECUTIVE
JOHN VARLEY

HSBC
UNDER CHIEF
EXECUTIVE MICHAEL
GEOGHEGAN

BSKYB
UNDER CHIEF
EXECUTIVE
JEREMY DARROCH

TESCO
UNDER CHIEF
EXECUTIVE SIR TERRY LEAHY

RISING STAR | OF THE YEAR

IVAN GAZIDIS, ARSENAL
Gazidis was voted by the panel as the year’s rising star due to his innovative approach to running Arsenal, showing spending your way to the top is not the only way to achieve success. He has brought to the club record profits but has also shown an awareness of the club’s fans by focusing on improving match day atmosphere.

SHORTLIST
Edward Allen, Thurleigh
Daniel Burton Morgan, BoA Merrill Lynch
Ben Loomes, Greenhill
Jan Sramek, Goldman Sachs

INVESTMENT BANK | OF THE YEAR

JP MORGAN CAZENOVE
Despite losing staff through the integration, the panel felt JP Morgan Cazenove continues to perform very strongly, with its influence felt across most major deals of the year. Commended bank Ondra, though very young, was praised for financial success, coupled with trust, reputation and a client-focused business model.

COMMENDED
Ondra
SHORTLIST
Goldman Sachs
Credit Suisse
Numis

TRADER | OF THE YEAR

CRISPIN ODEY, ODEY ASSET MANAGEMENT

Crispin Odey received a unanimous vote from the panel, who described the fund manager as “incredibly astute and always on the money”. Just this month, Odey launched a new wealth management arm aimed at countering the “expensive, opaque and sub-optimal” deal investors receive from fund of funds firms.

COMMENDED
Alan Howard, Brevan Howard
SHORTLIST
Philippe Jabre, Jabre Capital Partners
Mike Platt, Bluecrest
James Berger, GLG

MARKETING CAMPAIGN | OF THE YEAR

AVIVA
Aviva was the panel’s unanimous choice in this category due to the high visibility of its yellow-branded campaign to change its name from Norwich Union to Aviva. The firm has invested record amounts on marketing over the past few years to highlight the rebrand – a spend which it maintained through 2010.

SHORTLIST
Artemis
RSA
iShares
Thomson Reuters

FUND MANAGER | OF THE YEAR

NEPTUNE
As a story of the past year, the panel agreed that both Neptune and Aberdeen stood out as transformational when compared to the other contenders in the category. Neptune pipped Aberdeen to the post because of its “extraordinarily impressive” growth over the past few years.

COMMENDED
Aberdeen Asset Management
SHORTLIST
Fidelity
Jupiter
Schroders

LAWYER | OF THE YEAR

EDWARD BRAHAM, FRESHFIELDS BRUCKHAUS DERINGER
Edward Braham of Freshfields was judged by our panel of judges to be an “extremely prolific, pragmatic and capable lawyer”, while his Slaughter and May rival Nilufer von Bismarck also received high praise for her work in an exceptionally hard-fought category.

COMMENDED
Nilufer von Bismarck, Slaughter and May
SHORTLIST
Margaret Cole, FSA
David Harris, Hogan Lovells
Clare Maurice, Maurice Turnor Gardner

RETAIL BANK | OF THE YEAR
FIRST DIRECT
First Direct emerged as the winner of this category, with a reputation which remains intact despite the sector’s battering at the hands of the financial turmoil. The panel also commended Metro Bank as a “creative new entrant doing something truly different in the sector”.

COMMENDED
Metro Bank
SHORTLIST
Lloyds Banking Group
Santander
HSBC

DEALMAKER | OF THE YEAR
ROGER CARR, CHAIRMAN OF CENTRICA
Ex-Cadbury chairman Roger Carr won this category for his astute handling of Kraft’s hostile bid earlier this year, when he managed to extract a final price of 850p a share. The panel agreed Carr had “taken real heat” over the affair but had seen it through to a very successful end.

COMMENDED
António Horta-Osório, Santander
SHORTLIST
Karen Cook, Goldman Sachs
Andrew Osborne, BoA Merrill Lynch
Clive Cowdery, Resolution

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES FIRM | OF THE YEAR
DELOITTE
In one of the closest categories of the awards, our judges singled out Deloitte for its rapid improvement over the past 12 months. They said the firm had caught up with others which were previously very much ahead of it – in particular in the restructuring arena, where it has a strong presence.

COMMENDED
Mckinsey
KPMG
SHORTLIST
PwC
Ernst & Young

INSURANCE COMPANY | OF THE YEAR
ADMIRAL
Admiral, the largest Welsh headquartered firm, stood out from its rivals for our panel, while Standard Life was commended. Admiral says the UK car insurance business continues to drive its success and in the summer, confirmed that the market shifted up another gear in the first half of the current financial year.

COMMENDED
Standard Life
SHORTLIST
JLT
Lancashire Group
Willis

RETAIL BROKER | OF THE YEAR

HARGREAVES LANSDOWN

Hargreaves Lansdown is “in a different league” to the other contenders in the category, our panel said, noting the complementary success of the company’s broking and investment management operations. Killik was commended for having achieved a remarkable amount from a relatively small base.

COMMENDED
Killik
SHORTLIST
Barclays Stockbrokers
Brewin Dolphin
Collins Stewart

PROPERTY FIRM | OF THE YEAR

LAND SECURITIES
Land Securities was judged a worthy winner by our panel for its inspired vision of the City in particular – including one of the year’s most exciting new developments, the One New Change retail complex, which opened yesterday and was described by the judges as “a defining landmark for the Square Mile”.

COMMENDED
Heron
SHORTLIST
British Land
Sellar Property Group
CB Richard Ellis