Gadzooks! Ye Managers of Fundes seek to start a guild

iStockphoto / FN montage by Emily Allen

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The City’s guilds were set up in the Middle Ages as regulators-cum-trade-unions for ancient trades such as stonemasons and cobblers, but new ones are being set up to reflect the modern world. Once established, they can apply to The City’s Court of Aldermen to become livery companies.

The project is being steered by John Garbutt, a former HSBC Global Asset Management director, City alderman and a member of the 900-year-old Weavers livery company, and Mark Henderson, a former director at Hill Samuel Investment Management and previous master of the Curriers livery company that dates back to 1272 and originally represented tradesmen who “curried” or cured leather.

They want to attract an initial membership of between 30 and 40 to The Guild of Investment Management, with a view to gaining City of London livery company status down the line.

Henderson says the guild could help boost professional attitudes and is keen on sponsoring students and their research, with a view to boosting professional excellence.

He adds: “The level of knowledge among the general public of investment management is low and in an era of personal pensions, a basic understanding is important. Education and the promotion of investment excellence are our main aims.”

The City’s guilds were originally powerful, prosperous groupings who controlled their trade tightly and helped choose the Lord Mayor. They imposed penalties on individuals who broke the rules, set wages and controlled whether foreigners could come and practice the trade. Today, greater stress is put on philanthropy and education, plus the opportunity to don robes, finery and crests.

Modern guilds that have reached livery companies include the Worshipful Company of Actuaries, whose current master is former BP pensions chief Sally Bridgeland; Chartered Accountants, led by former KPMG executive Michael Jeans; Information Technologists, led by consultant Chris Histed, and International Banking, whose master is consultant Frank Moxon. Those with aims to achieve the status include nurses and public relations executives.

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