The ten most influential financial lobbyists in the UK — TBIJ

The following list details the ten most powerful financial lobbyists in the UK, selected by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism. The list follows an earlier report by TBIJ, published last week by Financial News.

As it stands, these men – and they are all men – have been identified to us as having significant influence and profile as financial lobbyists.

There is no suggestion that any of the people below are guilty of any professional impropriety. We publish this list in the spirit of transparency.

1: Mark Boleat, chairman, policy and resources committee, City of London
Described in a recent interview with the Independent as having ‘just enough padding to suggest that he enjoys a good luncheon’, Boleat was voted chairman of City of London Corporation’s policy and resources committee in May, making him effectively the City of London’s key proponent. He is predicted to ‘get tougher‘ on Occupy-style protestors – a potential flashpoint given current banking scandals and economic conditions.

Born in Jersey in 1949, he established Boleat Consulting in 1999 and has undertaken projects for the World Bank in Russia, Nigeria and Egypt. Author of 12 books on finance and public policy, he is a regular presenter before the Jersey Chamber of Commerce. During a speech there in March 2012, he celebrated Jersey’s ‘highly successful economy, giving its people a standard of living well beyond that in the UK or France.’

Boleat has a long history of involvement in housing finance including positions as director general of the Building Societies Association and the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Related story – Streets paved with gold: The council that works for banks

2: Anthony Browne, chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association
Bespectacled Browne, 45, is about to become the banking industry’s most important lobbyist, when he replaces Angela Knight as the chief executive of the British Bankers’ Association imminently.

Friends suggest Browne has ‘leapt from the frying pan into an erupting volcano’. He joins the BBA after just six months as Morgan Stanley’s top public affairs official in Europe. Previously the Cambridge maths graduate was Mayor of London’s policy director, writing Boris Johnson’s recent election manifesto. Browne joined Boris in 2008 having headed up the right-wing think tank Policy Exchange.

After starting out as an analyst, Browne enjoyed a 15-year Fleet Street career that towards the end saw him spark controversy with attacks on government immigration policy. While much of his thinking has now been accepted even by Labour leader Ed Miliband, Browne later expressed regret at some of the more inflammatory articles he wrote.

Related story – BBA’s ‘secret’ meetings with ministers

3: Andrew Baker, chief executive of the Alternative Investment Management Association
Having studied maths at Imperial College Baker, has worked in the banking and investment industries at UBS, HD International, Rothschilds, Gartmore and Schroders Investment Management as well as in Papua New Guinea.

AIMA is the principle industry body for the hedge fund industry which is fighting intense regualtory battles with Europe over short selling, transparency in derivative markets and most recently, pay.

Baker described himself as an ‘ordinary comprehensive boy from south Wales’. A father of three, he lists mountain biking, travel and classical music as hobbies.

4: Michael Spencer, chairman and chief executive, Icap
Michael Spencer, 57, is chairman and chief executive of Icap, the city’s most powerful inter-dealer broker. Icap is at the heart of commodity, currrency and derivative trading. Its boss, Spencer, with an estimated fortune of over £500m, is at the heart of British politics.

Co-treasurer of the Conservative Party between 2006 and 2010 and a major-league donor in his own right, Spencer is chairman of the Conservative Foundation – an organisation set up to support the party’s financial future.

The Oxford physics graduate has used every opportunity in the press to argue against the proposed financial transaction tax and his lobbying appears to have paid off with the Conservatives ruling out the UK from the levy.

In the wake of the Peter Cruddas cash-for-dinner scandal, it emerged Spencer has also been a dinner partner of Cameron since the election.

5: Iain Anderson, director, Cicero Consulting Inc
Aberdeen-born Anderson heads Cicero Consulting, which is believed to be one of London’s most powerful financial lobbying firms. Among Cicero’s clients, according to the Association of Professional Political Consultants register, are Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Barclays, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Standard Chartered, the Swiss Bankers’ Association and TheCityUK.

Prior to running Cicero, Anderson worked on Kenneth Clarke’s two leadership bids for the Conservative Party. Living in Notting Hill, London, Anderson is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post, prolific tweeter on foreign affairs, business and politics and a self-declared aficionado of Nice, France, and the opera.

Related story: Inside the City’s best-connected lobby group

6: Mark Florman, chief executive, British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA)
The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association is the biggest cheerleader for a sector that was at the centre of the recent equity leverage boom. Florman, 53, has a big challenge to ensure his industry, criticised for asset stripping and demanding high fees from investors, can navigate new regulations.

Under Florman’s tenure, the BVCA has adopted a more emollient approach.

A graduate of the London School of Economics, Florman worked in the US in corporate banking, mergers and acquisitions, and equity capital markets.

Former adviser and senior deputy treasurer for the Conservative Party, Florman is current chairman of the Centre for Social Justice, the thinktank founded by Iain Duncan Smith. He is co-founder with Sir Bob Geldof of African development fund 8 Miles, and is an ambassador of the Royal Albert Hall. He is a regular visitor to Kenya and Uganda.

7: Simon Lewis, chief executive of the Association of Financial Markets in Europe
Oxford graduate and Arsenal fan Simon Lewis was Gordon Brown’s official spokesman at 10 Downing Street. He was also the first communications secretary to the Queen in 1998, following the death of Princess Diana – which led the Independent to dub him ‘the man who rescued the royals‘.

Whether he can do the same to the reputation of the finance sector is another matter. Though unquestionably, Lewis has the credentials and consumate skills that make him best placed to withstand the renewed regulatory onslaught.

Described as ‘risk averse and unflappable’, Lewis has run the Association of Financial Markets in Europe for two years. Lewis was the organisation’s first and, so far, only chief executive.

It was formed in late 2009 to represent the interests of banks, insurance companies and traders in their efforts to lobby for a conducive regulatory settlement in the wake of the global economic crisis.

Since January, Lewis was also at the helm of the Global Financial Markets Association. In the business world, Lewis has been director of corporate affairs at major corporations, including Vodafone and NatWest.

8: Mike Craven, partner, Lexington Communications
Former chief media spokesman for the Labour Party, Craven came to the media’s attention while working as an unpaid adviser to deputy prime minister John Prescott. It was revealed that his public relations company Lexington was working with client British Airways at the same time the Labour government was preparing its transport white paper.

Lexington does not have the most financial services clients but it does boast Goldman Sachs among them. And Bureau research indicates that the firm has among the most politically connected staff.

Related story – Get the data: The Bureau’s financial lobby database

9: Charles Lewington, managing director, Hanover Communications
Kent native and an economic graduate of Bath University, Lewington is a former journalist with the Bath Chronicle. He went on to work at the Daily Express, becoming executive editor of the Sunday Express before landing the press secretary job to John Major in the 1990s. His nickname is apparently ‘Lord Charles’ because of his fondness for cigars and a reputed suaveness.

The McCann family engaged Hanover Communications in 2007 after intense media interest following the disappearance of their daughter Madeleine. Hanover’s work lasted two months. In 2008, Lewington led Hanover’s team working for Rupert Murdoch’s BSkyB.

Among Hanover’s clients are the powerful Association of British Insurers, Nomura, Santander and Goldman Sachs, which also retains Lexington.

10: George Bridges MBE, Quiller Consultants
An Old Etonian and Oxford graduate, Bridges is said to be a close friend of George Osborne and has links to the Conservative Party going back more than a decade. He has served as campaign director for the Conservative Party, chairman of the Conservative Research Department, assistant political secretary to the prime minister, and chief of staff to Theresa May.

He now heads up Quiller Consultants, which is owned by Tory peer and David Cameron’s constituency chairman Lord Chadlington. It was formed in 1998 during the Conservatives’ wilderness years but it has grown in influence following the party’s resurgence. Among its clients, according to the APPC, is the City of London Corporation.

Bridges is a former Times editorial writer, and an early proponent of the digital broadcast sector. The influential blog ConservativeHome names Bridges, the grandson of former prime minister Winston Churchill’s Chief Secretary, as one of ‘20 people who would make excellent Conservative MPs‘.

The City spent £92m on lobbying politicians last year — report

The British financial services industry spent more than £92m last year lobbying politicians and regulators in an ‘economic war of attrition’ that has secured a string of policy victories, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has revealed.

As the industry prepares to fight off renewed calls for root-and-branch reform in response to the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, an investigation by the Bureau has revealed the firepower of the City’s lobbying machine, prompting concern that its scale and influence puts the interests of the wider economy in the shade.

The Bureau’s four-month study also gained previously undisclosed documents that show how finance lobbyists won a host of important policy changes in Whitehall and Westminster. These include:

• The slashing of UK corporation tax and taxes on banks’ overseas branches, after a lobbying barrage by the City of London Corporation, the British Bankers’ Association (BBA) and the Association of British Insurers. The reform will save the finance industry billions.

• The neutering of a national not-for-profit pension scheme launching in October that was supposed to benefit millions of low paid and temporary workers.

• The killing of government plans for a new corporate super-watchdog to police quoted companies.

An extensive trawl of registries, consultations and hundreds of interviews has identified 129 organisations engaging in some form of lobbying for the finance sector, with over 800 people employed directly and at a cost of £92.8m. Lobbyists include in-house bank staff, public affairs consultancies, industry body representatives, law firms and management consultants.

Related article: Get the data – The financial lobby

‘Disproportionately influential’

The findings sparked a renewed attack on banks from business secretary Vince Cable.

‘The banking sector is disproportionately influential,’ he said, ‘In terms of its contribution to the economy, the financial services sector – widely defined – is comparable to manufacturing and a little bigger than the creative industries. It is important for rebalancing the economy that these sectors grow in relative importance,’ Cable said. ‘Yet I do worry that Britain’s financial sector, particularly the banks – as opposed to more successful and less problematic financial services like insurance –  are too dominant and is too easily assumed to represent the national interest. Its interests are often not the same as those of the real economy.’

He continued: ‘If Britain is going to grow on a sustainable basis we need smaller banks and more competitive banking focused on supplying credit to British business. Yet there has been strong resistance to bank reform.’

Labour’s leader, Ed Miliband, weighed in yesterday by calling on the big five banks to sell 1,000 branches in order to encourage more competition. He said the banking industry had become ‘economically damaging and socially destructive’.

The Bureau’s investigation found that the City of London Corporation – the Square Mile’s local authority – is the lobby outfit with the deepest pockets. Bureau estimates, which have been reviewed by academics, suggest that the City of London Corporation spends over £10m on public affairs advocacy and secures remarkable access to Treasury ministers.

Freedom of Information documents obtained as part of the investigation show the recently departed leader of the Corporation, Stuart Fraser had contact with the chancellor, George Osborne, and other senior Treasury ministers and officials 22 times in the 14 months up to March this year.

Secret City of London documents also show that the millions lavished on banquets in honour of politicians and state leaders are designed ‘to increase the emphasis on complementing hospitality with business meetings consistent with the City Corporation’s role in supporting the City as a financial centre’.

Beyond the Corporation are at least 26 industry bodies lobbying government and regulators based in the UK with an advocacy war-chest of  at least £34m.

Related article: Streets paved with gold – The local authority working for the banks

A total of 38 public affairs consultancies and public relations firms earn fees worth an estimated £15.8m from banks, insurers, hedge funds and private equity firms.

Some 124 Lords, equivalent to 16% of the House of Lords, have direct financial links with financial services firms. On Lords committees scrutinising last year’s Budget, peers who were paid by finance firms formed the majority.

Political donations by firms and individuals connected to the City contributed £6.11m in 2011 to the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties.

Related story – Hedge funds, financiers and private equity make up 27% of Tory funding

Tamasin Cave, director of Spinwatch and head of the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, said: ‘People have long understood the power the finance sector has over British politics. Here, for the first time, we can now see something of its scale and firepower. To spend such enormous sums of money to influence our government, its decisions, and the way this country is run is shocking.’

Andrew Simms of the New Economics Foundation thinktank said: ‘This looks like full-scale mobilisation for an economic war of attrition in which the finance industry is on one side, and the rest of the society, business and industry on the other.’

But Dame Angela Knight, the outgoing chief executive of the BBA, denied that her 200-strong bank trade body lobbied  the government.

‘We represent a range of banks in a variety of different fora. Of course where we are successful is in “operationalising” the policies made by others,’ she said.

Related article: BBA’s ‘secret’ meetings with ministers

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation disputed the figures and characterisation of its work as lobbying instead suggesting it ‘argues the case for London’. The spokesman that the City of London Corporation makes no apology for ‘promoting the competitiveness of (finance) as a whole so that this industry will thrive globally – and underpin jobs, prosperity and tax revenue’.

‘Crucially,’ the spokesman added, ‘we do NOT “lobby” for individual firms, deals or people. We are in contact with all political parties – both in and out of office and act rather like a trade body but across a broader range.’

Thierry Philipponnat, secretary general of Finance Watch, the Brussels-based advocacy group, said: ‘We all have different outlooks and the job of policymakers is to listen to all sides and find the right balance for society. The problems arise when policymakers hear only one side of the argument and special interests are allowed to dominate.’

Related article: How we calculated the size of the finance lobby

By  of The Bureau of Investigative Journalism.