The health and future of the UK’s financial sector and the challenge of getting funding to businesses were the two key themes at an event for Chairmen and Chief Executives hosted in Edinburgh by executive search consultants Warren Partners.

The St Andrew’s Day Influencers’ Lunch and Debate brought together senior executives from quoted companies and larger private businesses headquartered in Scotland and south of the border. They represented sectors ranging from financial services to manufacturing, media, environmental and business services.

Keynote speaker Otto Thoresen, Director General of the Association of British Insurers, explored the theme of ‘Where Next for the City?’ He talked about the challenges faced by the Eurozone, regulation and the need for greater stability to encourage consumer and boardroom confidence, as well as balanced growth. He also concluded that the UK financial sector based in the City of London, but encompassing other centres of excellence such as Edinburgh, although still facing significant challenges, is robust and in relatively good health compared to other parts the UK economy.

The financial theme was continued by the second keynote speaker, Peter Ibbetson, Chair of Small Business Banking at Royal Bank of Scotland. He described the line banks need to tread between maintaining the strength of their balance sheets and fulfilling the Government’s pledge to make more money available to businesses. The audience was surprised to hear that demand rather than liquidity is a key issue, and that not all the money available through programmes such as the Funding for Lending Scheme is actually being taken up by companies.

“The event was an excellent opportunity to bring together a wide cross-section of senior business people to debate the issues which are high on the Board agenda,” said Charles McGarry, the director who leads Warren Partners in Scotland. “It was also designed to mark the anniversary of the opening our Edinburgh office 12 months ago and we plan to make the debate an annual fixture in the business calendar.

“2012 has been an excellent year for us, with strong growth and a number of high profile mandates throughout the UK and internationally. In a competitive climate, clients value the innovative approach we take to helping them build high-performing, sustainable and diverse leadership teams.”

The Executive Chairman of Warren Partners, Joëlle Warren, co-hosted the event with Charles McGarry. “The feedback from participants was that they found the wide-ranging debate very stimulating, thought-provoking and challenging” said Joëlle. “The event was part of a series tackling hot topics for the Board, which we are holding across the UK. Growth funding and diversity are just two of the key issues the programme will cover.”