The City View: As we close the door on the CBI – it’s time to ask what’s next
An inordinate amount of ink has been employed discussing the future of the CBI. At the heart of it is a question; if not them, whom?
There is no question that medium to large businesses wish for a collective voice; regrettable though it may be, too many CEOs are wary to put their head above the parapet, perhaps wounded by the experience of the European Union referendum in 2016.
With that in mind, either the CBI needs to reinvent itself sharpish, or another body needs to replace it.
The first horse out of the stable on the latter front is BizUK, which promises to be a leaner, focussed outfit which would inform the drawing up of Conservative and Labour manifestos, given heft by corporate bigwigs.
The team behind it, Nick Faith and Sean Worth, have demonstrated they can manage such a model in the form of the Covid Recovery Commission.
Their idea, embryonic though it is, is perhaps the best form for a ‘big business’ group going forward. Culture aside, the CBI’s mistake was becoming at once too large and too vague.
Their helpful corralling of trade bodies got lost amid conferences that ranged within a single day from ESG concerns to Solvency II regulations.
Far better for corporate Britain to focus on two or three deliverable policy changes to the benefit of all than get lost in special pleading and generalities alike.
The ideal scenario, of course, would be our finest City and business leaders to speak for themselves more often. Amanda Blanc at Aviva, L&G’s Sir Nigel Wilson and the Lord Mayor Nicholas Lyons (taking time out from Phoenix) are fine examples.
In lieu of more from leaders outside the insurance industry, a collective voice will still be required. Consider the starting gun fired.