Alan Yarrow, the 687th Lord Mayor of London, sat down with IBTimes UK at his Mansion House residence for an in-depth interview. The former investment banker succeeded Fiona Woolf in 2014 to head up the City of London Corporation, the body which governs the historic centre of the capital.
Yarrow, who is also a chairman of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, discussed the corporation's stance on the promised EU referendum and the state of the financial sector's reputation years after the 2008 crisis and in the wake of the Libor rigging scandal.
The representative explained 84% of the corporation's stakeholders would like the UK to remain within the 28-nation bloc. "It's important to realise that having a group of 500 million people sitting on your doorstep; if you're commercial you'd be pretty strange to consider that as a very large market. After all, we only have 65 million people living in this country and that is not enough as a consuming group to actually keep an awful lot of people fed and water. We as a country have to get out there and export," Yarrow said.
As for the City's reputation, the Lord Mayor argued that it is turning a corner. "There's absolutely no excuse for the behaviour of some people in that period 2003 to 2008 and sometime sadly even afterwards. But we have got to be realistic about these things – these things do happen. You are in market places, people misbehave; people misbehave everywhere," he said.
"Anybody who puts themselves before their client, who effectively gets paid a premium for something that they shouldn't have done – these things are tantamount to theft in a way. They should be punished. If they cheat and wilfully break the law or the rules, they should go to jail."
But Yarrow stressed that the Square Mile is regarded as a "wonderful place" outside of the UK because of its "high quality service" and because of the rule of law. "I think the momentum over the next two and three years means that the City is going to be even stronger than it was over the past 50 years," Yarrow argued.
The full first part of the exclusive video interview with the Lord Mayor can be viewed above.