Almost two and a half years since the last City A.M. gala dinner, the brightest lights in the London business community gathered in person once again to toast the Square Mile’s success in what was an extraordinary year.
Held for the first time in the Guildhall, the awards recognise those who made the City great in 2021.
In what was a challenging year, our winners all went above and beyond.
Some 450 guests joined City A.M. journalists in the ancient Guildhall, at the heart of the City of London. Guest of honour Sir Martyn Lewis, the former newscaster turned successful businessman, regaled grandees with tales from the frontline of the media whilst City A.M. editor Andy Silvester hailed the City’s “resilience” in the face of unprecedented challenges.
“The banks who became conduits for emergency loans to the small-scale booze producers who began to make hand sanitiser. The entrepreneurs who solved problems who didn’t know existed. The insurers and law firms who gave businesses the confidence to invest again. When it mattered – and it did – British business and the Square Mile stood up,” he said at the beginning of the event.
Winning the biggest prize of the night was Anne Boden, the founder and chief exec at Starling Bank. As a leading light of the fintech scene, City A.M.’s expert team of judges felt it was right to recognise the growing importance of the sector – and one of its most vocal figures.
Meanwhile, AstraZeneca took home the Business of the Year award – a recognition of the decision to sell their life-saving Covid-19 vaccine at cost price.
Winners show business and the City continued to shine in tough year
Amid all the headwinds of 2021, businesses continued to shine – none more so than our winners.
Our entrepreneur of the year, Euan Blair, has seen his ‘Multiverse’ business deliver thousands of corporate apprentices, disrupting the usual path into professional services and making the City more diverse.
HopIn, our innovative firm of the year, kept the events business going when the pandemic locked us all inside.
Amongst the professional service businesses, Aviva stood as iInsurer of the year, with CEO Amanda Blanc delivering a promised return to shareholders and turning the household name into a leaner, fitter business despite activist pressure.
PwC shone out as the accountancy firm of the year, and Pinsent Masons – which still represents more FTSE 100 firms than any other – once again claiming the crown as the City’s law firm of the year.
Elsewhere, Nicholas Shott from Lazard took home dealmaker of the year for his work on the deal to take the Daily Mail private, with many of his team on hand to accept the award.
The “no nonsense” Terry Smith won investor of the year, not just for delivering superb returns to investors but for his acerbic wit; who can forget his broadside against Hellmann’s mayonnaise?
Analyst of the year went to Jefferies’ Martin Deboo for his work on Unilever, and our ‘ESG’ company of the year was Legal and General Investment Management for putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to ‘green’ investments.
And the prestigious business of the year award went to life sciences champion AstraZeneca.
But the big winner on the night was Starling Bank, which took home bank of the year as well as seeing its CEO Anne Boden win the coveted personality of the year award.
In a shortlist of City legends Sir Nigel Wilson, Sir Nigel Knowles, David Buik and UK Hospitality chief Kate Nicholls judges felt it was high time to recognise the growing importance of fintech to the City and the country’s wider economy. Well done to all our nominees and winners.