Geopolitical horizon-scanning: An update

Held on Wednesday, May 15


  • Karin von Hippel (RUSI)

  • Gerard Lyons (Netwealth)

  • Alexander Chartres (Ruffer)

  • David Goodhart (Policy Exchange)



In September 2017, the CSFI arranged the first of a series of “horizon-scanning” events at Dentons. It covered the main geopolitical risks that we felt might affect global financial markets in the short to medium term. What we highlighted included:

  • the perception that Brexit was starting to hit both consumer spending and business investment in the UK;

  • the belief that, around the world, the days of ultra-low interest rates were numbered;

  • the fear that Trump was about to embark on an attempt to reverse decades of globalization;

  • a broader geopolitical landscape at its most dangerous for a generation – with the Middle East about to blow, Russia angry with the West, China challenging the US in Asia, North Korea threatening Armageddon etc.; and, perhaps the most important,

  • a serious challenge to the internal cohesion of almost all Western societies, as the marginalised majorities rebelled against the elites (or the so-called “one percent”).

That was the ecosystem within which we felt the financial services sector would have to operate – and I don’t think it has changed very much. Sure, the UK economy has (so far) survived the Brexit debacle better than almost anyone had expected – but things can still go wrong. Equally, even though central banks are now much less keen on raising interest rates, that is only because the global economy seems to be slowing down sharply – perhaps because of Trump’s aggressive line on trade. Meanwhile, no one sane could possibly say that we live in a safer world than we did a few years ago. And it is hard to make the case that elites have really learned their lesson…

On top of that, we are just beginning to appreciate the downside of the tech revolution that we have benefitted from so greatly over the last 20 years - while we are also just beginning to appreciate how vulnerable we are to the kind of pandemics that seem to sweep across the globe every hundred years or so.

So, time to revisit the geopolitical outlook… This time, I am delighted that we have three new speakers and one hold-over from our discussion two years ago:

  • Karin von Hippel is director-general at the Royal United Services Institute, which she joined in December 2015 from Washington – where she was a senior advisor on counter-terrorism at the State Department, a Deputy Assistant Secretary and, latterly, Chief of Staff and Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. She has a PhD from LSE, an MSt (Master of Studies) from Oxford, and a BA from Yale.

  • Gerard Lyons is the economic strategist at challenger wealth manager Netwealth. He is also an independent NED at Bank of China (UK), economic advisor to Parker Fitzgerald and on the Advisory Board of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. Gerard is a former chief economic advisor to the Mayor of London and Global Head of Research at Standard Chartered. His most recent book, in 2017, was Clean Brexit. He has a PhD in economics from Queen Mary University of London.

  • Alexander Chartres is an investment director at Ruffer LLP, one of the UK’s leading active fund managers. He specialises in geopolitics and its implications for markets, with a particular focus on European and Great Power politics. He has written on the social and economic pressures that are radically reshaping the political landscape. Alex joined Ruffer from the University of Newcastle, where he read history and politics.

  • David Goodhart (who spoke at our September 2017 event) was the founding editor of Prospect, which he set up after leaving the FT. He is currently head of Demography, Immigration and Integration at Policy Exchange, and director of the Integration Hub website. In 2017, he published The Road to Somewhere, a book about the values divide in Western societies that is (IMHO) the best exploration of the deeper trends in European and UK society – and the best explanation for the distaste in which elites are currently held.

If you would like to join us for what I am sure will be a lively discussion, please let us know as soon as possible (we only have a limited number of seats) by emailing Alex at or by calling the Centre on 0207 621 1056. As usual, thanks to Dentons’s hospitality, there will be lots of coffee, tea and buns.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton