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I am delighted to be writing to you on my first day as Chief Executive of the Quoted Companies Alliance.

This is an organisation I have known and respected for some time and it is a tremendous honour to be asked to lead it.

After 13 years in the post, I must pay tribute to my predecessor, Tim Ward, for the strong legacy and talented team I inherit from him.

My career has been spent mostly as a financial journalist, writing and editing for the Sunday Times, London Evening Standard, Telegraph and Daily Mail. More recently, I’ve been self-employed as an author, consultant, podcaster, conference host and non-executive director.

In all of these guises, speaking up is a vital skill but listening is the most important one. So while I will enthusiastically relate the story of our community to policymakers, regulators and the media, it will be carefully distilled from what I hear from members on a daily basis.

The recent machinations of government and international money markets have sparked much soul searching, akin to the aftermath of the Suez Crisis. What is the UK’s place in the world? When resource is tight, how do we grow our economy sustainably so that living standards can lift across the board?

There has never been a better time to extol the virtues of the public markets, which I believe can be the best place for companies to source the funds to grow, operate transparently and distribute wealth, fairly.

But we must confront the ongoing decline in the number of publicly traded companies and the cost and complexity of the markets they use versus private ownership. The range of stocks and depth of liquidity made the stock market a jewel in the crown of the City of London. It risks losing its lustre if companies continue departing at the current net rate of one per week.

There is an opportunity to reset the landscape with a slew of consultations ahead. As the voice of small and mid-sized quoted companies, the QCA is fortunate to participate in those discussions at the highest level.

We occupy that position because of our broad membership, a reputation built over years and the thoughtful policy contributions culled from hours of debate among our expert groups.

This fills me with confidence that the QCA is in good shape, influencing, informing and interacting. However, that doesn’t mean it will not benefit from being reviewed top to bottom.

I take the reins with few preconceptions, but three initial desires: to amplify our voice, improve our offer to you and expand our base.

Do you have ideas, questions, or new joiner prospects? Please get in touch with me. And if you are a member that has not attended one of our events recently, please check out our full calendar of dinners, webinars and expert roundtables to see what you are missing out on.

I had the pleasure of meeting some members at this month’s CEO dinner and at our AGM, where Judith MacKenzie succeeded Adam McConkey as QCA Chair. I look forward to meeting many more in the coming weeks.

Championing this vital part of the UK economy will be a great privilege. I am excited to get going.

James Ashton,

Chief Executive, The Quoted Companies Alliance

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