The power of an international perspective

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The City of London is part of a global community, and while its societal function is primarily focused on fiscal responsibility and betterment, the impact of doing that well is wide reaching. In the pursuit of a better world, the City has a profound role to play. Here are my thoughts.

The newly elected Lord Mayor, Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli, is championing his initiative, ‘Connect to Prosper’, emphasising the City's unique role as a global knowledge connector and talent cluster, as well as showcasing its capacity to address global challenges and foster inventiveness through its communities.

He says, eloquently: “My Connect to Prosper theme will bring together thought leaders from the business, scientific, and academic worlds to demonstrate the City’s strengths in solving global challenges. Together we will showcase the Square Mile’s unique leadership role as the world’s coffeehouse, where connections between firms, institutions, and people, lead to new ideas and solutions that benefit the world.”

It’s a sentiment I strongly connect with, offering a modern take on the heritage of our great trading nation. That heritage was famously founded on the Stock Exchange, which started life in The City’s coffee shops, while the likes of Lloyd's began at a coffee house on Tower Street in 1686. It's the connectivity that the City brings, both within the Square Mile itself and as part of the global community, that gives it a unique ability to bring people together and forge prosperous relationships.

Our collective strength

London's reputation as the world's coffee house is something that I have always felt very deeply connected to. My personal and professional lives have always been inextricably international, having been born in Brazil, spent time in Latin America, enjoyed my childhood in South Africa, and having lived and worked in Canada and Germany as well as the UK. A passion for exploring, understanding and being part of the wider world is something that my children also share - one of my sons graduated in Chinese Studies, spending time in China, where my wife's family have links as well - clearly, it's in the genes.

While we perhaps don't think about it as often as we might, the UK has its strength in being a nation of immigrants. The Celts, the Romans, the Angles, Saxons, Jutes - across the centuries so many have come and continue to come to our little island, adding to the culture, the ideas, the talent and the collective perspective - a strength that only becomes more relevant in an ever more intertwined global community. Professionally, I have always found an international perspective to be beneficial - as global investor I have spent 30 years looking at opportunities around the world and facilitating the City's role within them. Personally, I think having the understanding of different viewpoints adds nothing but value to any circumstance – we are, after all, in this together.

Making an impact

There is no doubt that right now there is a huge amount of turbulence in the world. We have seen the devastating events in Ukraine over the past couple of years, for which I organised the Pray for Ukraine event at Holy Sepulchre Church, Holborn Viaduct as part of last year’s Global Day of Prayer, the City of London Prayer Breakfast in association with the Square Mile Churches. There have also been environmental disasters, and of course, more recently, the violence in Israel and Gaza. Having been to Israel and Palestine earlier this year, it seems unfathomable.

Naturally, these events not only have a human impact but an impact on our financial stability as a global community as well. I have written before about how I think trade is the first line of defence, but equally economic stability is a fundamental humanitarian provision as well. Herein, the City, which has a profound impact on the economy in London, the UK and the world around us, has a role to play.

I recently spent some time at The Alliance for Responsible Citizenship (ARC) conference with Baroness Helena Morrissey and Sir Paul Marshall. While my views are more centrist than some of those articulated, their overarching goal is one I fundamentally agree with – we must strive to be an international community with a vision for a better world, and we must look to both business and politics to lead that discussion.

I hope this is something I contribute to in my position as Alderman of the Ward of Cheap. It’s a role that gives me a deeply felt opportunity to bring together my personal and professional experience in a way that contributes to the wellbeing of those within the City of London and all those connected to it, in the constant pursuit of a better future.