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London’s new mayor encouraged by the growth of Islamic banking and insurance

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Points of Essence:

  • As London is emerging an international Islamic financial center, it’s vital to have someone at the core heart of the City’s administration who will appreciate the significance of Islamic finance. The city’s newly appointed mayor, Ian Luder will perhaps take this pointer forward. Times Online reported.

London welcomes new mayor Ian Luder to office

Ian Luder, whose father taught at a school in Hackney, has selected finanical education as the theme of his year as Lord Mayor of the City of London

Ian Luder, whose father taught at a school in Hackney, has selected finanical education as the theme of his year as Lord Mayor of the City of London

By Martin Waller

One of Ian Luder’s childhood memories is of being taken regularly into the City to watch the Lord Mayor’s Show. This is the occasion when the latest to occupy a post that dates back to 1189 tours his constituency in his gilded coach. Today, Mr Luder will take his place in the coach, the 681st to serve as Lord Mayor. One has to ask if that little boy ever contemplated this.

“All little boys dream. My parents brought me to the show. My mother made me learn the names of the lord mayors from a very early age.” Not all the way back to 1189? No, but “I had a penchant for remembering things. I liked history, facts and statistics. I think the little boy who watches the show and doesn’t dream that one day he might be in that golden coach is a very strange boy.”

This penchant for statistics led him to accountancy, though at University College London he read economics and economic history. “I certainly didn’t want to go to university to read accountancy and become an accountant.”

From his earliest time in the profession he has concentrated on tax and taxation policy. “When it came to applying for a job I thought the training would be better in one of the Big Eight, as they then were. I had no connection with any of them, so I applied to the alphabetically first and last in the list.”

The first was Arthur Andersen, the last Touche Ross, both names that have since disappeared from that list. This being 1971, there was a postal strike. “These things are to some extent chance. My letter to Arthur Andersen got through and my one to Touche Ross didn’t get there for two months.”

There was one other intervention by the gods of chance. The Andersen application form asked whether applicants were interested in audit, tax or consultancy. “Reading economics, I knew about tax policy issues, and where the burden of tax falls. I thought well, I had better tick the box I know something about and perhaps I will get questions about that in the interview. What I found was that I had applied for articles in the tax division.”

It was an inspired mistake, because he discovered he liked tax. Now, almost four decades later, he is tax partner at Grant Thornton and a regular commentator on the subject.

Once settled in accountancy, Mr Luder started to get involved in local politics in his home of Bedford. A Conservative at college, he became a Labour Party councillor – later entry into the City’s political circles, which are staunchly non-partisan, required a third shift to independent.

In Bedford he even helped to keep the books for the local scout troop. This social commitment he thinks is down to his background. Both sets of grandparents were immigrants, from Ukraine and what is now Romania. His family moved from the East End when he was four to North London, although his father continued to teach at a school in Hackney. Mr Luder himself, until very recently when the looming lord mayor’s year forced him to give it up, was a director of nearby Homerton Hospital. “I was born two generations later. The dice fell very comfortably for me.”

He became a member of the Court of Common Council of the Corporation in 1988. Like Dick Whittington, it took him three tries to achieve his aim, and three elections to progress to alderman, the next rung up. This is, in fact, remarkably quick progress in City terms, and it is possible that it was too quick for some traditionalists. Mr Luder has been the subject of a peculiar whispering campaign that suggests he should not have progressed to lord mayor.

Two factors should be mentioned here. Recent years have seen an attempt to ensure that mayoral candidates, who have to travel extensively in their year of office and need the financial means to support themselves, are more carefully selected. There is now a comprehensive machine at Guildhall to ensure the right names go ahead, an initiative that has been reinforced by a couple of dud candidates. This has not pleased everyone, especially those who might feel that the previous arrangements, on the basis of “Buggins’s turn”, might be more advantageous to them.

Secondly, the Corporation’s political scene, perhaps because it is so entangled with the livery companies, the descendants of the old medieval guilds but now more resembling dining clubs that carry out useful charitable work on the side, has attracted some odd characters.

A small number of individuals have taken it on themselves to circulate anonymous letters criticising Mr Luder, often referring back to his political career in Bedford.

Understandably, Mr Luder is not keen to discuss the matter. “It’s a small number of people, and extremely vociferous. I’m not the sort of person who retaliates. I’ve let them make this noise because anonymous letters don’t carry a huge amount of credence, and do you really want to shadow-box?”

Mr Luder’s time as lord mayor coincides with a downturn in the City’s fortunes. “I think it will survive. I think it will prosper,” he says, although he admits he was less optimistic three or four weeks ago. “Life will change. There will be differences in the regulatory environment.” Inevitably, he feels such changes should at the very least take into account the City’s wishes. “We couldn’t have an Orwellian response that says ‘Salaries good, bonuses bad’. There’s no reason why the industry can’t actually be proactive in suggesting to the FSA what regulatory changes are necessary.”

The City has traditionally thrived on its diversity, taking in insurance, shipping, commercial arbitration and law alongside traditional financial services, such as broking and fund management. Mr Luder is encouraged by the growth of new areas such as carbon trading and Sharia-compliant insurance and banking, and the training of professionals from fast-growing financial markets such as India.

Lord mayors traditionally nominate several charities for their year in office. Mr Luder is going for the St John Ambulance service, and in particular its Community Defibrillator Project, which aims to have a sufficient number of these devices in every building in the Square Mile and farther east.

A keen cricket fan and a member of the MCC, he has also chosen the Lord’s Taverners, which provides transport and cricketing facilities to the disabled and disadvantaged.

Lord mayors also select a theme to pursue in office. Mr Luder’s is financial education, appropriate for a time when millions of families are facing up to their earlier financial recklessness. He supports a drive to take liverymen into local schools to teach staff and pupils about finance and become role models, a job already carried out by representatives from various City banks.

Mr Luder mentions a recent visit to a Whitechapel school where he met a sixth-former who showed considerable aptitude at woodworking. He had chosen to learn business studies and mathematics alongside material science. “He said no, he wasn’t going to be a carpenter. He was going to run a carpentry business.”

Such initiatives can make a difference, he believes. “We don’t really want to see more instances of retail mis-selling. If you can start raising people’s knowledge of the financial world, that would hopefully begin to stop them buying things they ought not. If people mismanage their finances, it has an effect on them and carries on the cycle of deprivation to another generation.”

CV: Ian Luder

Born 1951, Mile End Hospital, East London

Education: Haberdashers’ Aske’s, Univeristy College London

1971 – 78: Articled Clerk, Senior Tax Manager, Arthur Andersen

1978 – 88: Tax Partner, MacIntyre Hudson

1989 – 2002: Tax Partner, Arthur Andersen

2002 – present: Tax Partner, Grant Thornton

1994 – 1995: President, Chartered Institute of Taxation

Married, two children from a previous marriage

Source: business.timesonline.co.uk

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Written by Suapi Shaffaii

November 14, 2008 at 11:55 am

Posted in Financial Centres

Tagged with , , ,

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