Sparkling sunshine and moussy prosecco welcomed Freemen and their business guests to the Guild of Entrepreneurs’ Spring Lunch, held in the magnificent Oriental Room of the London Capital Club on 28th March 2017. This cheerful event (held on the Tuesday following Mothering Sunday) is greatly anticipated as one of the few occasions in the Guild calendar where ‘shop talk’ is positively encouraged, and where a weighty speaker expounds on current affairs in entrepreneurship.
This year’s Lunch was auspicious, marking as it did the official signing of the Guild’s Article of Affiliation with the Defence Academy of the United Kingdom.
At midday, the Master spoke to contextualise the Affiliation, making reference to the historical importance of service and of the traditional obligations of the City institutions to supply skilful men to the armed forces. This obligation endures, and the Guild was, she said, proud to be following in this custom by providing skilled business minds and innovators to the Defence Academy, and to collaborating actively. The Director General, Vice Admiral Duncan Potts CB, represented the Defence Academy so splendidly, and spoke briefly to underscore the importance of the Affiliation in bringing together the common purposes of the two institutions. Admiral Potts spoke powerfully of risk and resilience, tenacity and toughness, and of his certainty (which he contrasted eloquently with mere ‘hope’) of a profitable relationship.
Pens poised, the Article of Affiliation was duly signed into effect, and the occasion marked with the giving and receiving of beautiful commemorative certificates bearing the Guild’s seal.
Business and badinage flowed with the pre-lunch drinks, and then into a hearty lunch.
It was then the turn of the Middle Warden to introduce the Guild’s guests: the Defence Academy’s Captain Simon Carter RN and Mrs Joanne Hamer MBE accompanying Admiral Potts; Louis Bedwell of Bathtub2Boardroom; Bina Mehta of KPMG; Chris Kettle of NatWest; and the speaker for the afternoon, Mr Anthony Belchambers – the barrister and noted financial expert.
Mr Belchambers then rose and spoke from his very informed viewpoint as the Chairman of the Honorary Advisory Council of the Financial Services Negotiation Forum (a neutral non-profit research body advising on Brexit). In a wide-ranging and stimulating address, Mr Belchambers, presented a nuanced interpretation of Brexit. He remarked that it is an opportunity for the UK to use its new-found regulatory freedom to ensure a proportionate framework for SMEs, and reinforced this by reference to developments in the UK, in the EU and in the USA. He closed with a challenge to the Guild to present its priorities to the Treasury and to DExEU, stressing the importance of reconciling the political and business agenda. Mr Belchambers’s optimism and charisma invigorated his audience and they were left in no doubt as to his ambitions for a pro-business, pro-growth and pro-Europe (if not exactly pro-EU!) Brexit.
The Master replied elegantly. In response to the specific challenge, she characterised the Guild as an enabler for the aspirations of its Freemen, and undertook to support Freemen Entrepreneurs in delivering their own priorities to Government.
Concluding with further refreshments, the Freemen and their guests were in animated form – clearly enthused, and nourished both physically and intellectually by an event which has already become a cornerstone of the Guild’s annual programme.