The Lord Mayor at a glance

Alan Yarrow’s new role as roving ambassador for the City of London is only the latest in a string of appointments that have put him at the heart of the UK’s financial sector

Career: Alan Yarrow spent more than 40 years at Kleinwort Benson and Dresdner Kleinwort, rising to Group Vice Chairman and Chairman of the UK bank. In this role he was responsible for 1,200 employees in 18 countries. He remains a senior adviser to the Kleinwort Benson Group to this day.

Offices held:
Chairman of the CISI
Deputy Chairman, Practitioners Panel of the former regulator, the Financial Services Authority
Member of council of the Takeover Panel
Vice President of the British Bankers’ Association
Chairman of the London Investment Banking Association
Trustee, Police Foundation

The number of speeches Yarrow will make during his 12-month term
Civic service:
Yarrow served as Sheriff of London for 2011-12. He was admitted as a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers in 2007 and has since become a member of the International Bankers’, Glaziers’ and Launderers’ livery companies.

Mayoral schedule:
During his 12-month term, Yarrow will spend 100 days travelling to 30 countries and will make more than 650 speeches. He will also host more than 120 visits by prime ministers, finance ministers, central bankers and others

His aims and ambitions in a nutshell:
“Creating wealth, giving time, supporting people.”

The poem that inspires him:
If, by Rudyard Kipling

Family life: Yarrow is married to Gilly, a former teacher and they have two sons. Their younger son, Guy, has just married, while their elder, disabled son, Max, lives in sheltered accommodation in Dorset.

Charity fundraising: The Lord Mayor’s chosen charities for his year in office are Scope, which works to improve opportunities for disabled people, and Mencap, the UK’s leading learning disability charity. Between them, they will receive 70% of funds raised.

Yarrow and his wife also have an interest in dance and art, and so the Royal Ballet School, the London Art School, and the Royal Academy of Arts will each receive a share too.

His most famous ancestor: Yarrow is a descendant of Sir Francis Drake, the maritime legend who turned his back on piracy and slave trading to become the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in 1580. Eight years later, he played a central role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada. Drake’s ship, the Golden Hind, appears on Yarrow’s crest.

Commercial heritage: Yarrow’s family became shipbuilders in the 1870s, manufacturing “the fastest launches on the Thames” from a shipyard in Poplar, East London. They went on to construct torpedo boats “which became the fastest naval ships in the world” before selling out to British Aerospace Systems. Yarrow is justly proud of the fact that his former family business is probably the longest-lasting naval shipbuilder in the country.

Keen painter:
Yarrow shared a flat in Earl’s Court with a friend called David Stileman, who went on to be his best man and, later still, Chairman of Standard Chartered in the US. Both were keen painters and Yarrow even used to pay his rent in pictures on occasion. “I suspect my landlord was more interested in the frame than he was in the picture,” he jokes.

Despite the extensive new duties he has taken on, Yarrow has picked up a paintbrush again for the first time in 35 years. “It’s a great way to unwind,” he says.

His motto:
Justus Esto, Et Non Metue (Be Just And Fear Not)

The original version of this article was published in the December 2014 print edition of the Review.
Published: 09 Mar 2015
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