LONDON (Reuters) - A down-to-earth institution brings some polish to London’s financial district with a new event that doesn’t look like any cocktail party you’ve seen before.
The budding financial experts in the event “New Year, New York” don bowties in honour of the January 31 New Year’s Eve party Willie Campden, who founded the agency in 1922, threw every year.
“Wear a bowtie. Something you’d normally wear at Christmas,” says a stylist in a textured white jacket over a white shirt.
“We don’t want to make you look proper, we want to make you look as innocent as possible,” he explains before the floor is set to rumble.
Starting with a wobbly clap to signal the start of the brainstorming session, the blue-clad hosts aplogise a curious tip on the day’s agenda: go for a friendly family dinner on Friday night.
Successful suggestions are entered into a lottery which wins members a one-off bottle of champagne to toast at the end of the weekend.
One impressive entrant, Leon, calls the weekend “insane”, while Andy, a recent Londonite, calls himself a “fat mess”.
“It’s a chance to do some serious learning together on new business opportunities,” he tells reporters after the hour-long meeting.
The series of seminars held at a modern art gallery in the center of the financial district to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Campden Financial began last year and sees more than 60 clients joining each year.
For lunch next door, diners were presented with a chance to listen to Silicon Valley entrepreneur Drew Blucher speak about entrepreneurs and their impact on society in the UK.
Food critic Michael Symmons Roberts, who has collaborated with Edinburgh-based Blucher, has read a lot of cow manure in his day - his fiction novel “The Millionaire’s Caress” is set in an advertising agency - but said the real key to founder Angus Finlay’s success was his willingness to listen.
Afterwards, nobody seemed too confident about bankers making a comeback.
“People are trying to get out of an area of finance at the moment,” said Tony McAvoy, CEO of Pepper Finance.
While many attendees to the talks and parties are established bankers and business people, some go beyond business.
“We’re all pretty young and have a long time to do things like this. I think it’s a good time to spread our wings,” said insurance consultant Katherine Garbutt.