WHEB Commentary

George Latham

Hurrah for the Lord Mayor!


Fiona Wolf is London’s 686th Lord Mayor, and only the second woman*, but she is approaching her tenure with an energy, sense of purpose and vision that might make some of her predecessors blanche.  At the launch this week of her Tomorrow’s City programme she spelt out her desire to harness the expertise of the City of London to meet the challenge of a VUCA world (to the uninitiated that stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous) which is becoming ‘the New Normal’.

Speaking on the challenges created by a growing and ageing population, rapid urbanisation, climate change and the depletion of natural capital she encouraged those listening to take advantage of an ‘unparalleled wealth of opportunity’ that exists not just in the distant future, but here and now.  If you are familiar with our investment strategy you would not have been surprised to see WHEB heads nodding in agreement at this point!

A programme of meetings, debates, roundtables and speeches over the coming year is organised by Tomorrow’s Company, focussing on the sustainability and responsibility of finance.  Key topics include widening the talent pool, regulation, infrastructure and energy for long term, sustainable growth and preparing for the ever present VUCA.  Joining Fiona on the platform Eileen Taylor, CEO of DB UK Bank, spoke about the benefits of diversity to driving innovation and reducing group think, and Dick Tyler, Senior Partner of lawyer CMS Cameron McKenna, on both the opportunity and responsibility from taking a lead on social mobility.  Leo Johnson, Partner in PWC’s Sustainability and Climate Change team, provided an inspiring vision of how cities and society can be more resilient through empowering grass roots connectivity.

Clearly much of this is ground that the team at WHEB have been covering and speaking about for many years, alongside other specialists in sustainable and responsible finance, but it is really encouraging to hear these views espoused by people with senior positions within the establishment. Fiona’s leadership is very welcome, and the convening power of the Lord Mayor’s office has the potential to have a real impact.  As Tony Manwaring, CEO of Tomorrow’s Company noted, we need to move beyond the voices of a select few specialists and create a wider acceptance of the ‘New Normal.’

*The first was Mary Donaldson in 1983

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