The highlight this week was in fact one of the highlights of the year, our annual Banquet to the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress in Mansion House. It is the custom for the Lord Mayor to dine as a guest in his own home with most of the Livery Companies during his year. Those Livery companies with their own halls entertain him there. Those without halls act as hosts in the Mansion House. Not every Livery company is successful in its application to have the dinner, or even if it is, to receive the Lord Mayor. However, perhaps because it is held in such high esteem, the Marketors have hosted the Lord Mayor every year except one for over thirty years in succession.
Mansion House is the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London. It is used for some of the City of London’s official functions, including an annual dinner, hosted by the Lord Mayor, at which the Chancellor of the Exchequer customarily gives a speech – his “Mansion House Speech” – about the state of the British economy. It is a Grade 1 listed building. It was at the Lord Mayor’s Luncheon at Mansion House in November 1943 that Winston Churchill said after the Battle of El Alamein, “Now is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
Mansion House was built between 1739 and 1752, in the then fashionable Palladian style by the architect George Dance the Elder. The construction was prompted by a wish to put an end to the inconvenient practice of lodging the Lord Mayor in one of the Livery Halls. It was paid for in an unusual way. In 1748 the City of London Corporation passed a by-law levying a heavy fine on any man who refused to stand for election as Sheriff, or who once elected to office, refused to serve.in order to serve as a Sheriff of the City of London, the individual had to have “taken the sacrament according to the Anglican rite” within the past year. This was exactly what English Dissenters could not, in conscience, do. These Liverymen at Common Hall elected wealthy Dissenters to the office of Sheriff in order that they should be objected to and fined, and in this manner some £15,000 was raised. One of those whom they selected was bedridden and another blind. Eventually this practice was overturned in the House of Lords and from then on Dissenters were known to take Communion in their parish church once a year, in the phraseology of the time, “occasional conformity”, to avoid the risk.
The present Lord Mayor is Jeffrey Evans, the Lord Mountevans. His grandfather Edward “Teddy” Evans was a British naval officer and Antarctic explorer. He was seconded from the Navy to the Discovery expedition of the Antarctic in 1901-04. He was second-in-command on Robert Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the South Pole in 1910-1913, as captain of the expedition ship Terra Nova. He accompanied Scott to within 150 miles of the Pole, but later became seriously ill with scurvy and only narrowly survived the return journey. Ironically, since the entire team that continued towards the Pole died, the life-threatening scurvy indirectly saved Evans’ life.
He spent the First World War as a destroyer captain, becoming famous as “Evans of the Broke” after the Battle of Dover Strait. He rose to high office in the peace time Navy and was appointed Civil Defence Commissioner for London during the preparations for the Second World War. He was raised to the Peerage as 1st Baron Mountevans in 1945.
The Rt Hon The Lord Mayor the Lord Mountevans was born and spent his early years in Gothenburg, Sweden, and was later educated at the Nautical College Pangbourne. His City career started in 1972 with the international shipbroker Clarksons. He was appointed to the Board in 1989 and served as Managing Director of the Gas Division for 13 years. The Company is the world’s leading shipping services provider with 48 offices in 20 countries.
In 2007 Jeffrey was elected Alderman for the Ward of Cheap, serving as Sheriff of the City of London 2012-13. He was Prime Warden of the Shipwrights 2006-7. He is a Liveryman of the Goldsmiths and of the World Traders and is an Honorary Liveryman and Court Assistant of the Wheelwrights and an Honorary Liveryman of the Security Professionals.
Jeffrey succeeded his brother in 2014, to become Lord Mountevans. In 2015 he was elected to sit as a Hereditary Crossbench Peer in the House of Lords. Jeffrey met Juliet at Cambridge. They have been married for 43 years. A Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners, Juliet is a former solicitor specializing in maritime litigation and more recently Adviser at Chelsea Citizens’ Advice Bureau.
In my speech before proposing the civic toast I said:
“Lord Mayor, you have chosen as your theme ‘Innovate here, succeed everywhere’. I have chosen as my theme ‘Marketing for Good is Good Marketing’. The greatest of all business thinkers Peter Drucker said “the two most important functions of a business are Innovation and Marketing as they are the only two functions that contribute to profit while all others are costs”. So, my Lord Mayor, between us we’ve got it covered.
On Friday 24rd June it was announced that the UK had voted to leave the European Union. It seems to me that business lost its voice and authority in the debate.
It is important for business to regain its licence to operate. People are angry because they see that those at the bottom are being made to pay for the crisis. They contrast this with what they see as the greed of bankers and hedge fund managers and rewards for failure for those at the top. This is also exacerbated by the sense that major businesses are evading their obligation to pay a fair share of taxes. This may explain why the considered views and warnings of reputable companies intervening in the debate were dismissed as somehow not legitimate. The overall licence of business to operate is poor.
This makes it more important than ever that individually, and collectively, our companies work to fill the leadership vacuum from which we are suffering. The best companies connect with their employees and their other stakeholders, and work with their competitors and neighbours to act as a force for good in society. There are huge financial and reputational benefits to companies who get this right and steal a march on their competitors.
Whatever the short term uncertainty, and whatever differing views on Brexit, there is a deeper reality on which we can all agree and work. Our economy is only as good as the health of our companies. Our companies are only as good as the long term health of their relationships. The health of those relationships is only as good as the clarity of message and the integrity of behaviour manifested by their leaders. There is a common interest among employees, shareholders, and taxpayers that we create a climate in which businesses do invest, and do take the longer view and thereby earn more dividends to pay out to savers and investors.
There has never been a better time for businesses, especially larger businesses, to show by example that they are worthy of trust, that their leaders do care, and are in touch; that they are a force for good. To do so effectively, those in charge need to avoid the impression that they are aloof, distant, and living in a bubble of their own. They need to connect with real feelings of their people and other stakeholders.”
The Lord Mayor responded in similar fashion and thought that marketing was a key part of regaining the trust of the public in business. We exchanged gifts. He gave me a pewter bowl and I gave him a pair of Chilean Navy cufflinks and the badge of a Chilean Naval Attaché. In my concluding remarks I read the following:
A SEA SHANTY
(OR THE RYME OF THE MIDDLE-AGED MARINER)
Lord Mountevans, our most noble Lord Mayor
Said Innovate here, succeed everywhere.
As Marketors, we completely agree.
Without Innovation, we’re all at sea.
But for Jeffrey, the sea has been his life,
and I think that’s true as well for his wife,
But Marketors also believe in trade,
selling goods and giving overseas aid.
Drucker said, there are two things that count-
Innovation and Marketing amount
to success in business. The rest are cost.
Without these two heroes, well all is lost.
So please remember, if all of you could,
Good marketing is marketing for good.