Company Comment - Spring. 2011

Company Comment:
Masters Remarks for the Comment Spring 2011
The Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America
By Commander Michael J. Green CD (Retd) Master

This is the time of the year when we can look forward to the approaching spring and the promise of warmer weather. It is also a time to take stock of what has been accomplished, relative to the goals for the Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America, that we had established for 2010; what still remains to be achieved as we plan for the next Annual General Meeting set for May 4 2011; and the appointment of a new slate of Court Members. We continue to gain new members, both within Canada and in other parts of the continent, a trend we hope to continue to foster, with an eye to continued good communication with our new members and wherever possible the Livery Company members in USA and UK.

It is very gratifying to see our members progressing forward towards receiving their Freedom at Guildhall. I am delighted to extend personal congratulations to Hon Company Members Ken Foxcroft Deputy Master and Hon. Treasurer and John Smith Hon Clerk on their induction to the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.

On the financial side I am pleased to note that the Honourable Company and our Charity continues remain in a stable financial condition under the stewardship of Hon. Treasurer Ken Foxcroft. However as I indicated in the last edition, it is most important that our members pay for their event tickets promptly on registration, to help us to avoid unnecessary delays in balancing our accounts , on conclusion of events.

Since the Fall edition of Company Comment our members were able to enjoy an evening with “Balvenie” hosted by Warden Ashley Prime, Deputy Consul General of Toronto and my thanks to Jonathan Dart, Consul General who was unable to join us, for the kind use of his residence and the excellent support of his staff.

I would welcome any thoughts and suggestions from our reader members on the type of events that they would like us to consider as our Court re-convenes to plan for 2011-2012.

Finally I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the very good support and good counsel that I have received from the Committee Chairs and Wardens of the Court during my tenure as your Master for 2010. I extend best wishes to our members and readers of Company Comment and look forward to your continued support and interest in promoting the best traditions of the Honourable Company in 2011.


Fellow Freemen, the life-blood of any organization is its members.

Over the last twelve months, we have added 14 new members, 6 of whom are from the US and our thanks go out to all the sponsors for their recommendations and proposals. We currently now have 108 members of whom 13 are Life Members.

In order for us to be a viable organization we have to grow at the rate of at least 10 new members a year and I reach out to you all to assist in this challenge, we need your help .

If you know anyone who you might consider as a potential member please invite them to view our website .

Why not ask them to join and sponsor their application. You might perhaps consider giving the “Gift of Membership” to a close friend or a member of your family.

Without our members our organization will not be able to grow both in terms of our Events and our Charitable Trust.

Our Trust, as you know, helps to support a student from the University of Western Ontario who wishes to continue their studies at a City of London University. As I write, 4 students have either taken or are currently taking advantage of this scholarship. Our first student, David Cook, will be attending our Annual Dinner on Friday May 6 th and has been invited to address our members and guests on his experience in London and the benefits of this opportunity.

Why not continue this worthwhile opportunity and your ties to the City of London by helping us to promote The Honourable Company of Freemen of the City of London of North America to your family and friends and help us meet our growth targets? Without your help, it will be more difficult. And after all, this is your Company.

John Bishop


Balvenie Night At Dunvegan:

We were very fortunate to have Dr Samuel Johnson, (“Dr Whisky”)a Toronto native and the Balvenie team entertain us at a reception at the beautiful Forest Hill home of UK Consul General Jonathan Dart on Friday February 11 th .

Unfortunately Jonathan was in the UK but Warden Ashley Prime ,Deputy Consul General, graciously assumed the mantle of our host.

Grahame Wood of the host company did a great job in educating those present on the various attributes of single malt whisky and in the process he introduced us to 2 new

Balvenie products only recently added to the LCBO s listings.

Carol as always excelled with her culinary skills which covered a wide spectrum of food native to Scotland including haggis.

A full bar was available to supplement the whisky and all who attended agreed that this was without doubt the best of our many visits to Dunvegan.

It is unfortunate that we see so few new members at our events but we do have others who bring out guests to support the Honourable Company throughout the year.

Without more support we may have to curtail our planned program for 2011.

International Bankers in the City of London:

There have been international bankers in the City of London for over 700 years, started by the  Jews,  Knights Templars,   and Italian Bankers , following  the  great trade routes from east to west and from the Mediterranean in the south to Flanders in the north. English wool and cloth made its way south and silks, brocades, leather, jewels ,armour and spices made their way north.

By the 14th century the main essentials of domestic and international trade finance were well established, in an area around what is now known as Lombard Street.

From the 14th century bankers in England formed many alliances with guilds and also formed associations and in March 1948 The Overseas Bankers Club was formed. The aim being for representatives of overseas banks in London was to meet each other and the managers of the leading British banks.

The Club prospered though the 1970's and into the early 80's, when in 1985 total membership had risen to approximately 2,200 (with 550 residents abroad) representing 575 banks. By the 1990's, despite having over 1,000 members the Club was making losses and in October 1993 the word "Overseas” was dropped from its name.

Despite numerous internal changes, on March 14th 2002 the Club was finally dissolved. A resolution was passed to donate the remaining assets of the Club to the Charitable Fund of the newly formed Guild of International Bankers. This consisted of a significant amount of paintings, silverware, plate and paintings, in addition to cash and the legacy of the Guilds coat-of-arms. To be more precise and heraldic, in the crest of the Guilds arms, ' a Yacht composed of the hull of a caravel redunda Sable and a mast, or rigged as a Bermudian sloop sails Gules "which was modified from the small yacht with red sails which had topped the badge of the Overseas Bankers Club President. The ship motif underlines the historical traditions of internationalism which are represented in the Company today.

In 1998, in recognition of the merger of the FBSA with the British Overseas and Commonwealth Banks Association, Art Brown, an Australian and General Manager of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's London Office, succeeded Peter Burger as Chairman of the FBSA. He was also keen on the idea of all nationalities being able to become Freeman and supported the efforts being undertaken to that end by Judith Mayhew, a New Zealand lawyer and Chair of the City's key Policy and resources Committee. Success  came on the 25th March 1999, when the Common Council passed a further Act which allowed citizens of all countries, or, more precisely " aliens not of the Queens allegiance " to become Freeman. The first such was Raymond Seitz, who had been US Ambassador to the Court of St James from  1991 to 1994 Fast -Track to livery

There are several stages in the process of becoming a livery company. The first, and most essential step, is to find an Alderman who will be prepared to sponsor the application and act as liaison between the guild and the Court of Alderman, Chamberlain's court and others to ensure that progress through the ranks of companies is smooth. Members  of the FBSA had met Sir Paul Newall at City functions and as a banker, since he had been a member of firms which ultimately became part of Lehman Brothers. He was also a committed internationalist, a defining element  of the proposed guild.  The theme of his mayoralty in 1993/4 was " The International City - the World is our market "  Happily, he was not already sponsoring another Company and on 2nd June 2000 the Court of Alderman agreed that he could be the Guild's Sponsoring Alderman.

Another concern was that traditionally the process to become a full livery company was slow - a minimum of seven years from being established as a guild to becoming a company without a livery, and a further seven years to become a full livery company . Was it possible to accelerate the process and reach livery status sooner? This would, of course be a major factor in attracting members, especially given the transient nature of most international bankers' careers in London. Sir Paul wrote to the City Archivist and discovered  that an accelerated procedure had been introduced in 1974 as  part of a move to encourage professional organizations to form companies. Although this had been formally terminated in 1981, a rider had been retained to the “7 + 7 ' rule, which allowed a fast-track” in very special circumstances and limited to professional organizations.

With this encouragement, the first meeting of those who might be interested in forming a livery company was held on 12th October 2000. While there is no formal procedure for a professional institution, or similar body, to become recognized by the Court of Alderman, as a City guild, it must petition the Court of Aldermen. This was done by Sir Paul Newall in a meeting of the General Purposes Committee of Aldermen on May 16th 2000.

In a speech, Sir Paul concluded with this rousing peroration " this guild - and, hopefully, the eventual livery company - would give a strong signal, in terms of PR, that uniquely, and unlike any other money centre, the City of London is the most user friendly in the world,, the true Headquarters of the international banking fraternity, and that is part of the secret of its continuing success. The Court of Aldermen could be sending a very powerful message in this regard."

The committee gave its permission. The work begins;

At that first meeting in October 2000, the working part addressed various issues, including, the key word ' international. This clearly demonstrated the Guild's intention to attract membership from those who were active in the international arena from both London and abroad. Just as importantly, it was agreed that membership should not be confined to bankers, but should include those professionals who work extensively with banks and bankers. As a result the Company's letter-head reads, The Worshipful Company of International Bankers - for financial professionals.

The Guild's ordinances, which were formally adopted on 25th June 2001, stated the Guild's primary objectives;

To promote, support and encourage standards of excellence, integrity and honourable practice in the conduct of international banking and the financial services industry and to add societies and other organizations connected to such industry.

Wherever possible, to promote and uphold the established traditions of the international banking and financial services industry.

On the fourth meeting of the working group on the 15th February, it was agreed to form a Founding Court of a Master, three wardens and up to 25 freemen as Court Assistants. Sir Paul Newall was elected as Founding Master and the Founding Court was also chosen. Sir Paul pledged that he “would do all that he could to ensure the new Guild progressed to higher status within the Corporations' structure in the shortest possible time “and set about gathering support from other Livery Companies. He also advised that it would be a good idea to produce a brochure setting out the new Guild's aims and purposes and the background to its inception, together with supporting letters from the Lord Mayor and the Governor of the Bank of England, now Sir Edward George, a proposal which was accepted and implemented.

The Guild of International Bankers formally came into being on May 1st 2001 and 220 attended its inaugural Dinner which was held on the 26th July 2001 in Mansion House. Sir Edward toasted the Guild.

The Annual Guildhall Banquet on 4th February 2002 was jointly promoted by the Bankers Club and the Guild… the Club's last formal event. On the 4th May, almost exactly a year after the guild had come into being, Sir Paul presented a petition to the Court of Alderman for progression to Company without Livery status, since the Guild “most closely represents the  core and essence of the City of London's business today".

The petition was granted on June 18 2002.

Finally on 6th July 2004, just over three years after the Guild was founded, the Company petitioned for full Livery status. By then it could boast of a membership of around 500 (over 100 as liverymen) drawn from over 40 nationalities - probably more than any other livery company - representing over 250 banks and financial institutions with charitable endowments in excess of 450,000 pounds and general funds in access of 50,000 pounds.

The petition was granted on the 21st September 2004, when the guild Guild of international Bankers became the 106th Livery Company in the City of London.

A change of Name;

On the 4th April 2007 the Court of Aldermen granted a change of name to The Worshipful Company of International Bankers and in May 2006 a Royal charter was granted by the Privy Council and was sealed by The Queen on December 10 2007.

And so, 700 years after it might have been done, and only six years after it actually became a Guild, the Worshipful Company of International Bankers had achieved full livery status and obtained a Royal Charter. it is, already with over 500members, one of the largest livery companies in the city and almost certainly the most international.

We are honoured that Ken Foxcroft , our Honourary Treasurer and John Smith, our Honourary Clerk ,are both members of this distinguished Livery Company.

The motto says;
A natione ad nationem - from nation to nation

A short history of its formation.
By John Thirlwell

Sourced from The Worshipful Company of international Bankers

Upcoming Events:

32nd Annual General Meeting
Wednesday May 4, 2011 @ 6pm
Performing Arts Lodges,
110 The Esplanade,
Toronto, ON

Click Here for More Info on this Event

32nd Annual Dinner at the National Club

Friday May 6, 2011 @ 6.30pm
Principal Guest Speaker: Vice Admiral Sir Ian Dewar-Adair, CBE, DSO, RN

Click Here for More Info on this Event




Copyrights © 2011. All rights reserved