The Master oversees the Company’s activities, as well as representing us at a variety of charity, trade, ceremonial and social events. He or she’s usually a long-serving Tallow Chandler.
Each Master serves for one year. The Master’s election has to take place on or within twenty days of the Feast of St. John the Baptist, reflecting our ancient links with the Brotherhood of St John. We usually hold the election on the first Tuesday in July.
Michael was born in July 1950 in the United Statesbut returned to England when he was 3 and was educated at Brentwood School, where he boarded, and his main sport was fencing; representing the School at sabre.
Michael and Mary were married in 1974. Mary read Zoology at Kings College London and has been a Magistrate for 20 years. She is an organist and has trained village choirs as well as now singing in a local choir. They have two daughters; Julia is a doctor and married to Steve with two young grandchildren who also live in Hampshire; and, Susie who is a Priest in the Church of England (like her grandfather before her) and currently teaching at a Theological College in Harvard, USA, where she is engaged and soon to be married to Michael who is an American nuclear fusion scientist at MIT!
He joined Kingston Smith Chartered Accountants in 1968 qualifying with the firm. It was smaller then and when Michael became Partner in 1974 he was only one of five. He became Managing Partner in 1979 and also Senior Partner in 1990; leading its growth to a top 20 firm with some 500 people including 60 Partners and with KS International having 155 Offices worldwide.
He has always been actively involved in the wider Accountancy Profession serving on Institute of Chartered Accountants Committees in the 1970s and 1980s. He is currently Chairman of the Association of Practising Accountants which is a Group of Senior or Managing Partners from mid-sized firms of Chartered Accountants. He helped set up the National Business Angels Network, serving as Chairman from 1999 to 2002, and has advised the Government over many years serving on the Small Business Council and Small Business Investment Taskforce.
Michael has been heavily involved with City of LondonCorporation for many years. He was elected as a Common Councilman in 1986 representing the Ward of Cordwainer Ward, followed Past Master Tom Wilmot as the Deputy for that Ward, and chaired several Committees including the Finance Committee for five years. He then became a Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee in 2003, effectively the Leader of the City of LondonCorporation. In this role he led a period of considerable reform; introducing the new City franchise and boundary changes and founding 3 Academies. He also led more extensive engagement with Local, Regional and National Government and the EU; opening City Offices in Brussels, India and China. Since stepping down as Chairman in 2008, he has continued to Chair and serve on a number of committees. He was knighted in 2008 by Her Majesty the Queen for services to Business and to the City of London.
Also in 2008, he was invited by the then Chancellor, Alistair Darling, to chair the Professional Services Global Competitiveness Group which led to him chairing the Professional and Business Services Group representing a wide range of sectors from Accountancy to Recruitment, Law Firms to IT Services and Marketing Services to Shipping Industry Services. In this role he has helped to promote the importance of Professional and Business Services, a sector that accounts for 14 per cent of UK GDP, and provided feedback and recommendations to the Government, in particular George Osborne, Vince Cable and other Ministers, on a whole range of issues.
In addition to these numerous commitments, Michael has pursued his interests in Education, Local Government and the City of London through his membership and participation in a number of other organisations. He is Vice Chairman of Brentwood School, a Governor of the City of London School for Girls and was a Governor of London Metropolitan University and a Trustee of the Academy Sponsor Trust. He was Chairman of Thames Gateway’s Inward Investment Organisation and was a Vice Chairman of London Councils from 2003 to 2008, which includes the Leaders of 32 London Boroughs and the City of London. He is also a Member of the Court of the Needlemakers Company and was Master in 2005-6 during their 350th Anniversary.
Michael joined the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers in 1990, at the instigation of the late Tom Wilmot, and became a Court Member in 2000. He has thoroughly enjoyed his time as a Liveryman and fondly remembers some interesting debates in the Court – particularly about a certain Catalpa tree!
He enjoys Music, gardening and collecting wine; he has even been known to drink the odd bottle of red! Mary and Michael own a 70ft narrowboat, aptly named ‘Petrus’ (probably the best wine in the world), and they love exploring the canals and inland waterways when time permits.
Michael is honoured to be representing the Company during the year of its 550th anniversary and looks forward to hosting the Guildhall Anniversary Banquet in October.