William Russell
Lord Mayor - City of London

 

On November 9th 2019, I was inaugurated as the 692nd Lord Mayor of the City of London which is celebrated at The Lord Mayor’s Show. My role is to promote the financial and professional services of the City of London to a national and international audience; as such, it will be an enormous privilege to represent the greatest city in the world.

The office of Lord Mayor dates back to 1189. What is the purpose of a Lord Mayor in 2019? Apart from being the ambassador for financial and professional services that employs 2.3 million people in the UK, it is about soft convening power – the office will allow me to effect change by introducing people to each other, people who might otherwise never have met. I have seen over the course of my life how this can make a real difference, and one of my golden rules has been: if you are invited to something, go – because you never know whom you might meet.

I will be travelling the world during my year in office. I expect to make around 800 speeches and will attend countless meetings and dinners – all in order to put this convening power into practice. My intention is to represent the regions of the UK as well as the capital, because it is important that the Lord Mayor of the City of London, particularly when overseas, is an advocate for the entire country.

... when I become Lord Mayor I will see my role as enabling good people to do good work together.

Every Lord Mayor has a programme for his or her year in office, and I will be concentrating my attention on three areas. The first is trade, because commerce is what any Lord Mayor should be concerned with; it is the central and age-old purpose of the City of London. The second focus is innovation covering areas such as cybersecurity and green finance – the world has quite rightly woken up to the fact that climate change is a major problem. Then there is fintech. My professional background is in financial services so I know how significant it is that 31 of the world’s 50 billion-dollar fintech unicorns are located here: it makes London the global fintech hub. Third is culture. I believe the arts are London’s biggest differentiator: no other city on the planet has the history and the heritage, the cultural riches and the creativity that we have. One thing I intend to do is highlight the social impact of culture on society.

William with Hilary in The Lord Mayor’s residence, Mansion House.

William with Hilary in The Lord Mayor’s residence, Mansion House.

Part of the role of a 21st-century Lord Mayor is to support social and charitable causes. I have an interest in the prison sector that amounts to a passion, and I will be working with the prison charity sector throughout my year as Lord Mayor. In addition to supporting me as Lady Mayoress, my wife Hilary will pursue her own interests, but we have shared concerns: helping the prison sector is one; childhood and education is another. Haberdashers' – one of the Great Twelve City Livery Companies - to which I belong, is opening a free school in Borough and educates around 12,500 pupils across the country, including at academies in Lewisham and Crayford. Hilary is a Trustee of the Heads Together charity Best Beginnings, which aims to give every child in the UK the best possible start in life, and I am Deputy Chair of Place2Be, a children’s mental health charity. Both of us are on the Campaign Board of Development of Durham University, which is where we met.

No city beats London. The City covers one square mile, corresponding roughly to the old Roman settlement of Londinium. This tiny bailiwick is the beating heart of the UK economy, accounting for 11 per cent of the country’s tax take, and 12 per cent of its GDP. London has a complete ecosystem that no other financial centre can claim – the rule of law, insurance, the cutting-edge infrastructure. New York is a huge financial centre, but the technology comes from Silicon Valley 5,000 miles away. There’s a reason why Facebook and Google have their European bases in London – and Brexit won’t change that. From a sales point of view, London will continue to be a great product to promote. I am very optimistic on that score.

I am a networker by nature and, when I become Lord Mayor, I will see my role as enabling good people to do good work together. I have always had a keen sense of social duty and responsibility. Twelve months is not a long time, so I will work hard, giving my very best efforts to make a lasting difference to the City I love.