25 Mar

Westminster School

“Your brain starts working from the moment you are born–until the moment you get up to speak,” remarked Sue Algeo, Junior Warden, in her closing speech, much to the amusement of the audience.

At this year’s Tacitus Inter-Schools Speaking Competition, held on March 25th, generously hosted by Westminster School but organised by Liveryman Bennett Papé, all participants thankfully managed to avoid the speakers’ curse. Eight schools, four from the state sector and four from the private sector, presented their answers to the question: “Finance–a force for good?”

Inspired by this year’s World Traders’ Tacitus Lecture, given by IMF Managing-Director Christine Lagarde, the students demonstrated both wit and creativity. Many of them had truly grasped the depth of Mme Lagarde’s message and the call for a more ethical, sustainable and inclusive finance industry. The challenge was to explain their own take on the subject in just 7 minutes.

The general consensus was that finance had the potential to do good, by incentivising, for example, best sustainability practices: directing sources of capital to the most environmentally sound projects, allowing the general public to participate through the issuance of green bonds and other sustainably responsible products.

Several of the teams emphasised how the inclusion of more women at executive levels in the financial sector is bringing both better business performance and increased levels of corporate social responsibility, thereby helping to reinforce the good that finance can do.

The competition was won by City of London School for Girls. But each team had something distinctive to offer. One team consisted of year 9s, but impressed their rivals with their mature intellectual ability. Some teams relied on fluid team choreography, others on set speeches. One school turned their presentation into a humorous play.

Special thanks to the World Trader mentors, who gave their respective schools useful coaching over a number of visits: Chris Douse, Merlene Emerson, Danny Kalman, Rob Keller, Donald Lawrence, Laura Mercurio, Ben Papé, Ehsan Razavizadeh and Chris Seow. (The Master speaking here: Journeymen Giulio Capodimonti, Oscar Hammond and Simon Herland gave generously of their time and talents on the day, and between them wrote this report. Thank you all!)

Simon Herland