CMCE Showcase 8 Feb:  Ethics and Consultancy
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City Values Forum

The Company plays a key role in restoring Trust in the City...

In September 2009 the Company was leading KnowHowNonProfit in a 2.2 million pound project with the Big Lottery Fund set up under the City Centre for Charity Effectiveness Trust at Cass Business School.  As the 2012 general election neared, KnowHowNonProfit found itself drawn into discussions with the three main political parties about their policies for the Third Sector.  These discussions included a roundtable on the potential for a UK social investment bank.  From these early contacts grew momentum for the formation of The Big Society Bank and the need to restore trust in the City’s institutions, particularly the banks.

The Company played a key role in forming a project called ‘Restoring Trust in the City’ which later in 2011 became the City Values Forum.  The City Values Forum was established as an informal, voluntary working group to assist each Lord Mayor in his or her year of office.  It has now spanned the tenure of four consecutive Lord Mayors.  Its purpose is to act as a catalyst for cooperation and to coordinate the research, formulation and delivery of a series of work programmes. Together these will ensure that the City of London remains the most trusted global centre for banking and financial services.

In order to represent the City fully, the City Values Forum comprises a broad spectrum of City people from business, livery, academia, aldermanic and religious and non-religious backgrounds.  Despite recent events in the City, and regular examples of dishonesty by individuals, it is still broadly true that most people behave with integrity and honesty. We go to a restaurant and pay before we leave.  We enter a taxi and pay before we step out.  We offer and expect honesty in our daily dealings.  This results in a level of trust between individuals in everyday life.  Trusting others and being trusted is one of the most valuable achievements for any individual or organisation. Loss of trust leads to a dip in expectation and a change in the way we are handled by others.

The catastrophic loss of trust in the City’s institutions, following the 2008 crisis, has led to a collapse in the confidence with which the City is viewed by those who are involved in and benefit from its work. This perception of the City as untrustworthy, whilst not true in general, nonetheless threatens to permanently damage the foundations on which the success of the City has historically been based.  Trust is based on consistency reliability, loyalty, integrity, honesty and our expectation that promises will be kept.

Trust, loyalty and honesty are examples of what economists call “externalities”.  They are goods or commodities; they have real, practical, economic value; they increase the efficiency of a society like the City of London and enable it to provide more competitive services than other environments which are regarded as less trustworthy.

In the absence of trust loyalty and honesty, extra cost is incurred which drives down the economic efficiency of society e.g. not paying restaurant bills could lead to restaurants demanding deposits or putting security on the door to avoid runners, thus driving up costs. It could be argued that the cost and rapid expansion of regulation is the direct result of falling trust. Furthermore, burdensome regulation, necessary to provide a substitute confidence for absence of trust, might risk pricing the City out of its pre-eminent position in global financial services.

Honesty and trust are not simply driven by economic need.  They are based on deep personal values or professional roots.

Amongst a range of products the City Values Forum has developed a City Obligation.  This is a concise statement which can be used in a wide range of contexts. It expresses what the City of London, the individuals, the professional bodies and organisations that work in the City stand for.  The City Values Forum presented the City Obligation and a summary of its findings at Mansion House Conferences in April and October 2013.

Whilst organisations and professional bodies can do much to progress on their own, The City Values Forum believes that individuals and their actions are at the root of trust loyalty and honesty.  The City Obligation seeks to acknowledge this fact and embed it into the life of the City of London through its adoption by individuals, companies, organisations and associations.

The City Obligation is mainly for you, as an individual, to make - and our Company has incorporated it into our oath of admission as a Freeman and Liveryman.

“I will always treat others as I would wish to be treated, with honesty and integrity, in the spirit of the traditional City principle that ‘My Word is my Bond’.

 

 

 

 

 

   PM Patrick McHugh