The Company’s history is recent. To be a Liveryman you have to be ‘Free’ of the City but it wasn’t until 1999 that Freedom of the City of London was widened from British, Commonwealth and European citizens to include citizens from every nationality. City professionals from other nationalities were therefore unable to join the Livery. Though the first Trade Guilds had been formed during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries – and loans, documentation and mortgages were being arranged by international financiers including Templars, Jews (e.g. Old Jewry) and Lombardians (e.g. Lombard Street) - it was not until 2001 that the truly diverse international nature of the City’s Financial Services business could be reflected in a Guild open to all like-minded professionals. Full Livery status was granted on 21 September 2004, when the Guild of International Bankers, by then boasting an annual membership of around 500 members became the 106th Livery Company in the City of London. In September 2007 it was granted a Royal Charter as the Worshipful Company of International Bankers. In 2008 the Company became the sole trustee of the International Bankers Charitable Trust, a charity registered with the Charity Commisison for England and Wales, reg no 1087630.
The Coat of Arms
The Crest and Helm
The Crest is an important part of the achievement (the word is derived from Latin crista, a cock’s comb). The “comb” ran from the forehead over the crown and was originally a reinforcement to lessen the impact of a blow. The idea of including a Helm in the representational display of arms presumably arose from the observation that, as Crests were all different and some had hereditary or other special significance or were derived from associated devices, they were as distinctive in their way as shields.
The Company Crest (a Bermuda Sloop) was taken from the badge of the Overseas Bankers Club (OBC) and slightly modified. The reason for using the ship was to continue the historical traditions passed down from the OBC to the Company and to represent the internationalism of the Company. The ship sits on 5 gold bezants (gold coins that were first minted in Byzantium and England for use by merchants) representing the 5 major continents. The point at which the Crest was attached to the Helm by rivets or laces seems to have been disguised in various ways, for example by twisting around it a plain band of cloth or a lady’s “favour”, and from this developed the wreath or torse of heraldry. It is shown now as a twisted ribbon of two or more colours. The “mantling” emanating from the Helm originated from the need to insulate the metal helm from the heat of the sun with a small mantle, which predictably was made into a handsome adjunct to the outfit.
The Shield is divided vertically with one half black, the other red (credit and debit) with a white dragon rampant (the City of London Dragon) as the principal charge, within an orle (circle) of bezants.
The Supporters are Griffins, the “guardians of treasure” and to make them unique, each holds a 13th century “pyx” chest (treasure chest).
The motto literally translates as “Nation to Nation” to represent the internationalism of the Company.