City of London’s Lord Mayor Hopes for EU Accord, Trips Abroad
(Bloomberg) -- Vincent Keaveny, the new Lord Mayor of London, has a simple way to clear his head after each day’s handshakes, speeches and dinners: he takes his black Labrador for a walk around the Square Mile.
The nightly reset is a useful respite from his day job as the 693rd ambassador for the U.K.’s financial services industry, which is going through its first year outside the European Union while serving as a global hub during a pandemic.
Keaveny, a partner at law firm DLA Piper, now spends most nights in the 18th century Mansion House, across the road from the Bank of England. His 12-month tenure will also include about 100 days of overseas trips on behalf of the finance industry -- if Covid travel rules allow -- with an itinerary that’s set to include China, India, the U.S., Japan and the COP27 climate conference in Sharm al-Sheikh.
He spoke with Bloomberg about the aims for his term, the impact of Brexit and the return to the office.
His comments have been edited and condensed.
How will Brexit change London?
From a practical point of view, post-Jan. 1, did anybody notice any real difference? European clients probably saw no change at all in terms of their experience in dealing with investment banks here in London.
There was some stuff that banks had to do behind the scenes in terms of protocols they have to follow. But actually, you know, I think we’ve worked out how to manage Brexit on a day-to-day basis.
What about the EU’s desire to move business into the bloc?
I can perfectly understand the desire to create European clearing infrastructure, but an awful lot of the players in this market, the counterparties to the banks on the derivatives side of the business, for instance, they do not sit within the euro zone. There is another sort of limit -- the amount of that infrastructure you can replicate in Europe without having to duplicate and double costs.
I think we need just to continue talking and hope that the political recognition of the equivalence of our regulatory regimes is something that the EU is able to deliver.
What will be your term’s priorities?
Ramming home the importance of the skills agenda in the financial services sector. One of the key elements of staying competitive is making sure we have a well-equipped workforce.
Alongside that, my focus is on social mobility. We do have an issue in terms of access to the sector, but as we address that, there is a particular issue around progression.
You’re also focused on the social dimension of ESG investing?
What I’d like to do is widen the discussion a bit. I want to get that conversation going, and moving it away from being seen as a bit niche, a bit too philanthropic maybe, and recognizing it for what it is, which is potentially a really important new market in the finance world.
Do financial centers still matter in a world of remote work?
The value of people getting back in the office is totally apparent to me. I’ve seen it in my own firm. There’s a huge value in having people working together again, collaboratively in an office face-to-face. Junior lawyers do not get the sort of training and experience they need to get on Zoom. It just doesn’t work. And you can really see the positive impact. I think we’re coming back quite strongly post-pandemic, and that will continue into the new year.
How have your first few days been?
It is a demanding role, and finding a way of pacing yourself over the course of the year is a really important part of surviving and actually doing well as Lord Mayor.
You know that at about 10 at night, you’ll be on your feet, giving a speech and doing that four or five nights in a row. I had 11 draft speeches to review last Sunday. That got me as far as first thing on Wednesday morning.
How do you fit in those dog walks?
Several of the dinners here recently, there’s still people leaving when they’ll see me reappearing in a pair of jeans and a jumper with my dog, having changed out of the mayoral kit. And I’ll be saying hello to people I’ve just said goodbye to.
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