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Strength through companionship

Following another successful Pan Accountancy Lunch at the Mansion House last month, LSCA President Helen Brennan reflects on strong companionship and the importance of coming together at such events in these interesting times.

L-R: LSCA President Helen Brennan, Lord Mayor, Baroness O'Neill and ICAEW President Paul Aplin

November 2018

One of the privileges of being president of the LSCA is the opportunity to co-host the Pan Accountancy Lunch. This year’s lunch – the 12th - took place on 5 October at the Mansion House and included speeches from ICAEW President Paul Aplin, philosopher Baroness O’Neill and the Lord Mayor of London Charles Bowman, an LSCA member.

Although the planning was intense and, as the day grew closer, nerve-wracking, the day itself was a delight from start to finish. Speaking about improving access to the profession, Paul Aplin wondered whether, if he were starting his first role as a trainee accountant now, he would still feel under pressure to lose his Somerset accent.

I was particularly touched by this reflection as, only the previous day, in preparation for attending a panel at the Bank of England, as one of only two women and two ethnic minority people, I had pinned my college alumni society badge to my lapel, as if this would somehow confer on me permission to be in the room.

Baroness O’Neill spoke compellingly about the need for the profession to focus on our own trustworthiness – in terms of our competence, honesty and reliability - so as to earn the trust of investors and the public. The Lord Mayor spoke of trust too but also of the vital role played by the City of London in the UK and abroad.


This was another point that hit home for me on a personal level, as I live in a part of London where the City of London’s extensive commitment to education has made a real difference to the opportunities available for young people.

Some people believe that professional lunches and dinners have had their day – that the formality of such events can seem exclusive and that they lack appeal to younger members. However, research carried out by the University of Oxford’s Experimental Psychology department in 2017 indicated that social eating has an important role in the facilitation of bonding.

Researchers found that people who eat socially are more likely to feel better about themselves and to have a wider network capable of providing support. Indeed, even the word “companion” comes from “panis”, the Latin word for bread. So, a companion was, originally, someone with whom you shared a meal.

In these interesting times, let us, therefore, be companions whenever we can, taking strength and energy not just from the food we eat but from each other’s company.

Helen Brennan is President of the London Society of Chartered Accountants.

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