Garrick Club members
Meeting a gender
Of all the gentlemen’s club ties that feature in City boardrooms, the salmon and cucumber stripes of the Garrick are generally the lesser spotted . . . and typically the lightly spattered — with gravy or a decent Graves — given the establishment’s image as second home to geriatric theatrical bon vivants.
Actors, lawyers and writers are the more usual members; businessmen seem to prefer St James’s or Shoreditch; City traders a different sort of “gentlemen’s club” altogether. Of the Garrick’s better known members, the most commercially-minded were arguably Tommy Hill, 18th century drysalter of Queenhithe, Gordon Borrie, latter-day director-general of Fair Trading and Andrew Tyrie, current but outgoing chair of the Competition and Markets Authority.
Club rules even prohibit the brandishing of business documents on the premises. So this week’s legal move to allow women to join, brought by Bluebella chief executive Emily Bendell, is clearly more motivated by principle than profit — in particular, section 29 of the Equality Act 2020. However, she does also say it is to help women to make business “connections”. And she has a point. City Insider recalls once being invited to the club to meet executives of a FTSE 100 company. One hopes those chaps will be relaxed about accepting women members. Especially as their corporate website boasts of “celebrating gender equality” and signing up to the United Nations Women’s Empowerment Principles. One would imagine these include being allowed to stay for the port.
If you’ve ever thought City fund managers spout utter nonsense, this week brings proof: a new study has found that only two of the 60 largest asset management groups communicate at levels understandable by the average consumer. According to VisibleThread’s latest language analysis, many managers have websites with readability scores less than half that of Moby-Dick or a Harry Potter novel.
Among the worst offenders are Columbia Threadneedle, BNY Mellon and Santander. One company — Eurizon Capital — even managed to score zero. Apparently, fund managers can’t help but write sentences that are five times longer than is recommended for clarity. So who were the two plain speakers? Barclays Wealth Management and Federated Hermes, who both earned a commendable “Grade 8” for intelligibility — and evidently didn’t have their marks revised down by an algorithm.
CII in the Sky
Luring all City staff back to their offices had been core government policy — until a spike in coronavirus cases forced new rules limiting social gatherings to six. But the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and the Chartered Insurance Institute may yet succeed in persuading a half a dozen to commute into Fenchurch Street.
They have got together to take office space at Number 20 — better known as The Walkie Talkie. CII boss Sian Fisher notes the new “community space for staff and visitors”, including the skyscraper’s Sky Garden — which already operates a safe booking-only policy.
City Insider suspects at least six staff members will find its “360-degree views . . . lush greenery, exquisitely landscaped gardens, observation decks and open air terrace” slightly preferable to the old South Woodford premises. After all, the Sky Garden is ranked the 14th best place to visit in London by TripAdvisor. Woodford Green Dog Park may come in a tad lower.