Zoya Malik speaks to Praxity Global Alliance CEO Graeme Gordon about his appointment as master of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and livery work, including supporting the profession and raising money for charitable causes

 Zoya Malik: Kindly explain your role as master of The Worshipful Company of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales?

Graeme Gordon: I am the non-executive chair and ceremonial leader of the Chartered Accountants’ Livery, one of 110 ancient liveries in the City of London.

I am honoured and privileged to hold this role until October 2021. I relish the challenge of finding new ways to make a difference, especially raising money for charitable causes, and supporting the profession and our members.

ZM: What are the criteria for selection? What attributes are sought to fulfil this role?

GG: Livery membership is exclusive to the 150,000 members of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and only 400 professionals have been accepted to date. My current role is the culmination of a three-year process.

I was initially elected to the role of junior warden, then to senior warden, then master. Selection is based on personal merit, including prior support for, and within, the company and its charitable causes.

ZM: Tell us about the work and impact of the Livery Company.

GG: The company has four key pillars:

  • Supporting the Civic City of London;
  • Supporting business and the profession;
  • Charitable giving and support for the welfare of the armed forces;
  • Fellowship within the company and livery companies worldwide.

ZM: What attracted you to the role?

GG: I have to admit, it took friends of mine around five years to convince me to attend a Livery Company dinner and see what it had to offer. Once I got into to it, I saw the amazing potential for good it presented, so I decided to do what I could to help.

ZM: How will this role sit with other leadership duties? What are these and how do you manage your time?

GG: Covid permitting, most of my Livery Company duties take place in the evenings. If I need to attend daytime events, I either use holiday days or take unpaid leave. I am fortunate in that Praxity’s COO, Helen Jennings, not only supported my acceptance of the nomination but is happy to assist me with my Praxity duties where necessary, and I have total faith in her.

ZM: How does your work at the Livery Company contribute to representing the industry and elevating its profile?

GG: The promotion of, and support for, the accounting profession is one of the key elements of the Livery Company. This includes funding bursaries for doctoral students to encourage talented people into training the next generation.

ZM: What charitable initiatives are planned for 2021?

GG: The Livery Company has already provided grants of almost £200,000 to needy causes hit by Covid. This is over and above the regular giving of some £150,000 each year to the company’s regular charities and special causes.

In my year as master, given the issues and hardships suffered by some key charities close to my heart, I have engaged to undertake a Source2City charity boat row from the source of the Thames to the Tower of London. I will begin with a half marathon run followed by a 160-mile row in a single-scull boat. We hope this will raise over £50,000.

ZM: What new opportunities have you found in this role?

GG: Having been in Covid lockdown or equivalent since before I was installed, I have actually missed many of the normal opportunities a master would have had. However, via Zoom I have been able to get to know a number of other masters within livery companies who are also chartered accountants, and we have created a very nice social fellowship, who ‘e-meet’ at least once a month.

Through this group and my membership of the Financial Services Group of Livery Companies, I have been able to learn more about both the profession and the City.

ZM: What is a path for others who are inspired to take on a similar role?

GG: First, join a livery company that fits with your own ethos and culture. Then, take part and be sure to get involved.

The more you put in, the more you get out of it, and believe me, you do get more out of it than you put in.

I have enjoyed it so much I have subsequently joined another livery and I am thinking of requesting membership of a third – and this from someone who is notoriously not a joiner!