Demystification Committee

The Worshipful Company of International Bankers

worshipfulocmpanyofinternationalbankers-inauguration

The Worshipful Company of International Bankers is the livery company, or guild, for international bankers in the City of London. It is the only bankers guild in the City, banking being by nature and history an international profession.

Inaugurated in 2001, the guild was fast tracked towards gaining Livery status in July 2004. At the inauguration dinner (pictured above) Sir Edward George, at that time governor of the Bank of England gave the following toast:

Now let us give thanks
for international banks,
and the role that they play in the world;
although misunderstood, and sometimes abused,
they channel resources to where they’re best used,
and the banner of growth is unfurled.

And let us tonight
take pride and delight
in the City’s most novel creation,
that strengthens the unity
of our world financial community
surrounding Bank Underground station!

So please be upstanding, with wine glasses filled,
Let’s toast the International Bankers’ Guild.

The language surrounding the guild is inherently international but, tied as it is to historical livery companies, gains a colonial, historical, ceremonial tinge (the “banner of growth”) at official moments. The company is unapologetically positive about the role of global finance, despite paying lip service to the idea of ethical conduct. The guild has a code of good conduct in which each point is couched in language of business relationship and client interests, an aim often incompatible with wider societal interests as we see in the use of secrecy jurisdictions to move money around. If an organisation is first and foremost required to do what is financially best for a client (point 1), then no amount of later pleas for “principles rooted in trust, honesty and integrity” can override this – especially when trust, honesty and integrity are not required by law.

coat-of-arms

The guild’s coat of arms, flanked by griffins (guardians of treasure) has, as its crest a Bermuda Sloop – a form of sailing vessel developed in Bermuda when it was a British Colony. The Sloop can be seen as the basis for modern sailing yachts, in much the way that we can trace current financial practices to their colonial origins. The motto, “a natione ad nationem” translates as “from nation to nation”, of course refers to the guild’s international focus but also provides a useful playbook for modern banking in which, in order to maximise profit and minimise tax, money must be continually moved from nation to nation.

A longer history of the guild can be found in this pdf: http://internationalbankers.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/company-history.pdf.

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