He intends to use his year to kickstart a campaign to rebuild trust in business as well as carrying out the role’s traditional duties as spokesperson and ambassador for the UK’s professional and financial services sector.
Bowman, who is also former chair of the ICAEW Audit and Assurance Faculty, told economia that restoring trust in business would undoubtedly be the most difficult challenge. “The sceptics will say that they have heard it all before but I am a passionate believer that there is a job to be done.
“The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed the largest ever drop in trust in government, business and media. I see a paradigm shift taking place which started around the time of the global financial crisis and is evident in recent events – the US and UK elections, Catalonia, Brexit.
“We have to do something. So we have consulted citizen’s juries, distilled our existing codes and come up with five civic principles and five asks of society, aimed at financial services businesses which we are launching this month. What’s extraordinary is that they almost replicate each other.”
He added that selling the UK’s unequalled professional and financial services around the world would be far easier. “It is a wonderful industry, a national jewel, which employs 2.2 million people around the country, 400,000 of them in the Square Mile. It accounts for 12.5% of GDP and contributes £72bn to the annual tax take.”
Of course, his year in office coincides with the ongoing negotiations over Brexit and he will have an important role to play in ensuring that the City and sector are not damaged by the fall-out.
“I will champion a Brexit that works for City firms and communities and I will be speaking to government regularly to ensure this happens.
“We want to see mutual access to EU markets continue, ensure early agreement on a transitional deal and make sure we continue to allow the brightest and the best to find jobs in the UK.”
Bowman’s installation took place earlier this afternoon at the “Silent Ceremony”, which lasts just over 20 minutes and is a centuries-old tradition. The ceremony sees the lord mayor elect swap tricorn hats with the outgoing lord mayor to symbolise a transfer of power and the only words that are spoken are those of the oath of office.
The new lord mayor is then offered the six symbols of office – a sceptre, seal, purse, sword, mace, collar of SS and badge – which he touches and returns to the officers. This symbolises the transfer of responsibility.
It all took place at the Guildhall, the lord mayor’s seat and offices, in front of a packed audience of aldermen, City officers, masters of livery companies and livery company members.
Tomorrow, Bowman will be taken by coach to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear his oath of allegiance to the Queen before the lord chief justice. This is the traditional lord mayor’s parade, which Bowman described as “the biggest unrehearsed parade in the world”.
It involves 7,000 people, 200 horses, 70-plus floats, military bands, cadet forces, schools and much pageantry.
Both ICAEW and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants In England and Wales will be there – they have teamed up to create an accountancy-themed float in honour of the new lord mayor, who is a member of both.