City turns to experience in electing policy chief


The Corporation has elected a veteran of the Big Bang and the financial crisis as its new policy and resources chairman. Previously deputy chairman, Catherine McGuinness was voted in on Thursday last week, replacing the outgoing Mark Boleat as the authority on the Square Mile’s prosperity and development.

And before she even had time to get her feet under the desk of her new office, Ms McGuinness was forced to address fears sparked by Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein.

Bank boss Mr Blankfein set alarm bells ringing when he revealed a “contingency plan” to move 6,000 employees out of London should the Capital “stall” as a result of Brexit.

However, Ms McGuinness, who spent several years practising as a solicitor, a partner in a City law firm – advising a number of international financial institutions – and head of legal in an international bank earlier in her career, was not fazed by the comments.

Speaking after her appointment, she said: “As chairman of the policy and resources committee my goal is a vibrant, thriving City contributing to the prosperity and wellbeing of the Capital and the country.

“Assuming the role of policy chairman at such a critical time for the financial and related professional services sector is a significant task. My background in financial law helps me understand the complexities that Brexit poses.”

The Castle Baynard representative, who has been an elected member for two decades, says an open dialogue between all parties is the best way to broker new arrangements that suit everyone. “Through engagement with firms, trade bodies and government representatives, the Corporation has led on some important work in this area and in supporting global opportunities and innovation for the future – work that I’m looking forward to developing further.

“I am keen to explore how the sector can benefit from leaving the EU, particularly in developing our relationships with new international partners, such as China and India.”

Ms McGuiness’ role will also cover the Corporation’s responsibilities as a local authority, overseeing the City’s open spaces, educational commitments, and cultural institutions.
“The Corporation is about more than just financial and professional services,” she said. We must make the most of the history and heritage the City has to offer, and build upon our desire to create a cultural hub.

“Plans such as a new Museum of London are just the start of this new hub.”
Meanwhile, Mr Boleat has said a heartfelt farewell after five years in the post.

“It has been a great privilege to serve as the City’s policy chairman since 2012; I am very proud to have been able to play a small part in expanding the City’s work in London – in respect of education, employment, culture and the many other features that make London the greatest city in the world,” he said.

“Handling the referendum and now Brexit has been a challenge for the City. There is much to do if London is to retain its pre-eminence in a post-Brexit world. I have complete confidence that Catherine will do a great job in representing the City and ultimately helping to secure a Brexit deal and domestic policy outcomes that will see the City continue to thrive.”