A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Stifel's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Stifel is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Highlighting best practice
Eithne O’Leary, president of
Stifel Nicolaus Europe
Stifel has been around since 1890, and was founded in
StLouis, Missouri by Benjamin Altheimer and Edward
Rawlings. Seven years after Altheimer and Rawlings formed
their partnership, Herman Charles Stifel was brought in as
treasurer; his father Christopher previously founded the StLouis
Ethical Society. Herman would chart the firm’s success for the
first 40 years of the 20th century with his simple, honest belief of
“safeguarding the money of others as if it were your own”. From
their chief European office, located in the heart of the City of
London, Stifel, a full-service middle-market investment bank, acts
as a corporate broker to 69 clients. Eithne O’Leary, president of
Stifel Nicolaus Europe, here discusses their journey and successes.
Ambitions and trust
Over the last decade, banking has done precious little to help its own reputation.
It’s a mark of the current levels of trust in our industry that many will be surprised
to find me quoting the second-century emperor Marcus Aurelius, who once wrote
that “a man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambitions”. For a woman
like me, things are no different.
There is no doubt that, as a bank and a sector, our collective ambition must be to
perform our vital role in society in making strong economies better. The crash of
2008 has left us, ten years on, with much still to be done. Fewer than one in three
British consumers trust their bank, and only 37 per cent would trust a banker. This
places bankers sixth from bottom, in a list of 24 professions. It’s there in fact and
it’s there in fiction: in novels banking is portrayed by the likes of Sherman McCoy
Bonfire of the Vanities
or the deeply unattractive Roger Yountfrom John
. The standing of our industry has declined, and, now, we lose
many of the brightest prospects entering the world of work to other sectors, such
as technology.
I couldn’t disagree more with this preconception. Banking remains a great
profession: hugely interesting, fast-changing, challenging and filled with drama
as it helps companies realise their dreams and find success in an increasingly
competitive world.
Midwestern values
In our global operations, these have been exemplified in all the good things that
phrase implies. We are solid, realistic, pragmatic and plain-dealing. Perhaps less
afflicted by the excesses of Wall Street, in 2014, we entered the British market
when we acquired Oriel Securities.
»President of Stifel Nicolaus
Europe: Eithne O’Leary
»Founded in 1890
»Based in the City of London
»Services: Full-service
investment banking
»No. of employees: 270
»No. of clients: 69
»Herman Charles Stifel’s father
founded the St Louis Ethical
There can be no question of the vital
importance of what we bankers do
for a living. As the esteemed
commentator Martin Wolf
once wrote: “Banking is virtually the
only business able to devastate entire
economies.” At Stifel, we acknowledge
that with such power, there also comes
a great deal of responsibility; that now
includes defending markets, the private
sector and even capitalismitself.
I tend to agree with the economist
Roger Bootle who wrote, just after
2008: “What is needed now is not
a rejection of capitalism, but, rather,
a radical reform of some of its
institutions and practices. In a way,
this is nothing new. What we now
think of as capitalism did not emerge
fully-formed in an act of creation, but
rather evolved. So why should it have
stopped its process of evolution now?”
Uncertain terrain and
navigating it
The times in which we currently live
are indeed both exceptional and
uncertain. An old order is giving way
to the new. Investment banks who
attempt to impose their world view
on clients are going to find their days
numbered. Never has flexibility and
sound judgement mattered more,
especially as we enter what is likely
to be the end of an accommodating
credit cycle. This, combined with the
continuing uncertainty surrounding
exactly how the Brexit process will pan
out for the UK’s vital financial services
industry, means being on one’s guard
is so critical. Even if London were
initially to lose a “mere” 2.5 per cent
of its business, that figure, when
compounded over five years, would
look quite dismal.
We pride ourselves on providing
relevant wisdom through agnostic
advice. We understand the world
as it is, not as it once was, and we
see nothing in black and white.
Thereareno hard and fast solutions to
anything – “cookie-cutter” people or
advice are not welcome. Our primary
aim must always be to understand
the companies that we serve, and the
sectors in which they operate. We tell
clients what they need to hear, which
is not always what they necessarily
want to hear.We excel in devising
hybrid solutions that are tailored and
specialised to the precise needs of
We would contend, with due modesty,
that this approach is generating
positive results. During the first quarter
of 2018, we were the leading capital
raiser for our clients in London. Our
deals, which raised a combined total
of £6.9 billion, were just under twice
the value of the mighty Goldman
Sachs’. For comparison, they employ
around 6,500 people in the UK. We
Change and define your future
Our people are strongly encouraged
to share, not hoard, knowledge. The
right kind of teamwork, when it comes
to deals and transactions, must always
include a proper willingness to explain
one’s thinking. The self-centred bonus
culture of banking can lead to perverse
outcomes, and my senior colleagues
and I share a distaste for Master of the
Universe-style histrionics.
This is why we are pleased and
encouraged by the fact that of our
relatively small graduate intake this
year of six young people, three are
women. We would like that 50/50
split to come about eventually at
all levels of our organisation, but
when I look around me at senior
management meetings and see 11
men and not another female, I know
I have a way to go. The ambitious,
however, as I’m sure Marcus Aurelius
would concede, do have to start
banks who
attempt to
impose their
world view on
clients are
going to find
their days

This article was sponsored by Stifel. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister