Business chiefs must halt lurch to the left, says Lloyd’s chairman

John Nelson, the chairman of Lloyd’s of London, will tell a gathering of senior financial figures this evening that the reputation of businesses worldwide has reached a worrying low reports The Times. That could trigger serious challenges to middle-of-the-road politicians and economic policy.

“There is a feeling that this is not working and, in a worst-case scenario, that could lead to a lurch to the left in economic terms. I don’t think that is in anyone’s interests, least of all those less well off. Globally, you can feel the man in the street rising up and asking: ‘What is going on?’ ” Mr Nelson said in advance of his speech.

He will use the high-profile gathering of senior City figures to say that there is now a “grave and real . . . trust deficit” between business and other stakeholders. Mr Nelson, a former investment banker who became Lloyd’s chairman in 2011, will say: “I am now in my 50th year in the City and I don’t believe I have seen a period where there has been so much questioning by populations of the business community.”

Mr Nelson’s comments come as the business community faces a big change of direction from the Labour party in Britain, with its shadow chancellor telling the party’s conference yesterday that he may introduce a plethora of taxes on business, and with Jeremy Corbyn, the party’s new leader, having talked of re-nationalising industries.

Excessive pay is among the issues that must be tackled, Mr Nelson believes, to win back the confidence of the population at large. “People who create successful businesses, I am all for them being paid well,” he said, “but there are some absolutely excessive packages for people who are not putting capital at risk, who are simply doing their jobs.”

His remarks are aimed not only at bankers, who have been widely vilified for extreme greed while also being shown up as the perpetrators of a string of scandals such as Libor and foreign-exchange rigging.
He will also speak in the wake of revelations of emissions-test cheating by Volkswagen and after two industrial explosions in Tianjin, China, which triggered outrage about government policy and safety standards.

Lloyd’s, the world’s oldest insurance market, carries out 80 per cent of its business overseas, operating in 200 territories including China, Brazil and Dubai.

Mark Carney, the governor of the Bank of England, will also speak at the Lloyd’s dinner.