Lord Mayor's drive to renew support for City

Nick Anstee to lead campaign to 'restore trust and assure the public of the integrity' of the Square Mile
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The Independent Online

Nick Anstee, the Lord Mayor of the City of London, plans to launch a charm-offensive both inside and outside the Square Mile, in an attempt to promote the financial services industry which has been so badly damaged by the banking crisis.

But Mr Anstee is waiting until after the general election before starting his campaign to avoid the danger of the City being used by any of the parties as a political football following the public outcry over the banking bail-out and any more back-lash over bankers' bonuses.

"The banking industry did come close to the edge but even so it's sad that so many politicians have been particularly outspoken about bankers," he said last week.

"I want to avoid more of this sort of comment during an election season, so I'm waiting until afterwards to begin this campaign, which I hope will go some way to restoring trust and assuring the public of the integrity of our values."

His campaign – run in conjunction with TheCityUK, a new body representing the finance industry – will kick-off in the summer with a public debate on City governance led by senior figures such as HSBC's chairman, Stephen Green, and Lazard's chairman, Ken Costa, and fund manager Hermes among others.

Advised by Tomorrow's Company, a business think tank, the debate will discuss how ethics and integrity can be restored to the financial community and may lead to a new working party to study the lessons learnt from the crash. As well as Mr Green, who is a lay preacher, and Mr Costa, the chairman of Alpha International, which runs the Anglican evangelist courses, top church leaders will also be invited to take part.

"We need to explain to the public, and the taxpayers who are propping up the banking industry, in a much better way what we do," Mr Anstee said. "We need to explain why the City – only half of which is banking as the rest is shipping and insurance which has not been damaged – is important to them and crucial to the economy.

"Talent is mobile and I fear we may be driving many people away; how long can we keep taxing before it has a huge impact. Let's not forget that last year the City taxes brought in £64bn to the economy."

But at the same time, he said, the City recognises there must be "appropriate and proportionate" regulation but that there are real dangers of creating regulatory arbitrage if governments don't work around the world together.

"The industry is resigned to a cocktail of initiatives such as increasing capital liquidity ratios, living wills, the asset protection scheme and other measures still to come out of Basle."