The Italian Presidency has been clear: it is building the framework for a five-year EU jobs and economic growth agenda. The recent launch of the Anglo-Italian Financial Services Dialogue (AIFSD), therefore, could not have come at a better time.
The AIFSD, as a new collaboration between UK and Italian financial and related professional services, aims to make real contributions to the EU jobs and economic growth agenda. At its launch in Rome, on October 24, delegates from both Italy and the UK reviewed a discussion paper laying out policies for jobs and growth. These policies were debated, agreed and then presented, via letter, to Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
Three key topics of policy discussion featured in the launch.
First was the development of a Capital Markets Union. Conversations led to consensus; it was agreed that Capital Markets Union can facilitate capital formation in Europe, in turn supporting jobs, growth and industrial development in the EU. It was also stressed that Capital Markets Union is a project for all 28 EU Member States, one that should remain focused on both what makes capital markets work and the EU’s global openness.
Second, no discussion of macroeconomic growth in Europe this year has been complete without mention of securitisation. This market was discussed at the launch and the important role of banks was recognised and supported by discussants. As a result, one key AIFSD policy suggestion was that banks and insurance companies investing in securitisations could be subject to recalibrated rules on the risk-weighting of those assets under the December 2013 Basel Committee re-proposal and the current draft of Solvency II Delegated Acts. Delegates also agreed that EU policy makers can support efforts to facilitate revitalised EU securitisation markets, where possible, in the improved connectivity of data sharing and improved contents and connectivity of credit registers.
Third, long-term investment featured large in the discussion. It was agreed by the AIFSD that EU and individual Member State institutions can assist in developing a more conducive environment for long-term investors in infrastructure, in particular by developing best practices for investors to treat infrastructure assets as a single asset class.
A wide-ranging and lively discussion in Rome fleshed out just how much common ground there is between UK and Italian financial services, something especially true with regard to making meaningful policy contributions to the EU jobs and growth agenda during mandate 2014-2019. Under the co-chairmanship of Mark Garvin, JP Morgan, and Innocenzo Cipolletta, UBS Italy, the AIFSD can only move from strength to strength as it holds its next meeting in London early next year.
Last week we were in Cardiff, kindly hosted by Wayne Harvey, Senior Partner at Deloitte. There we discussed the role of our industry in the city and the wider Welsh economy. We also considered how greater inward investment might be encouraged. With plans for the further devolution of powers from Westminster firmly on the agenda following the referendum on Scottish independence, and the recent publication of the final report of the City Growth Commission, this was an apt time to discuss how Cardiff can develop its offering to businesses looking to establish or grow both regional operations and headquarters. The seminar formed part of our ongoing programme of engagement in financial and related professional services centres across the UK.
The Liberal Democrats returned to Glasgow for their party conference this year, having moved the date so as not to clash with the Scottish independence referendum. Unlike the Labour Party conference, where there was a palpable mixture of exhaustion from the campaign and relief at the survival of the Union, the Lib Dems were in a more contemplative mode, with the benefit of several weeks’ hindsight and developments such as the convening of the Smith Commission, which will consider Scottish devolution.
Two sensational newspaper splashes greeted delegates arriving at the Conservative Party Conference, and indeed talk of scandal and defection was hard to avoid at Birmingham’s watering holes. Arguably, there were two developments of greater importance happening alongside the conference, ones that will potentially have a greater bearing on the outcome of the General Election and the next five years of Parliament.
In the main conference hall of Manchester Central, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls MP burnished his party’s commitment to fiscal probity, re-stating commitments to balanced budgets with tax rises and spending restraint. Labour leader Ed Miliband MP also pledged to grow the number of high-quality apprenticeships for young people, re-pledged to break up big UK banks and promised to transform the NHS.
It’s always interesting to get away from the UK debates engaging TheCityUK, and to go to another EU member-state for an alternative view. TradeWonk’s annual visit to Ireland was a welcome opportunity to do so and to be exposed to Irish viewpoints for much of August.
This week we were in Belfast, kindly hosted by Citi, for a seminar to discuss the role of financial and related professional services in Northern Ireland.
A TheCityUK delegation, led by Mark Garvin of JP Morgan, visited Rome for a day of meetings on 23 July to prepare for the establishment of an Anglo-Italian financial services dialogue during the Italian Presidency of the EU.
Earlier this year I was invited by the British Chamber of Commerce of Morocco to give a speech on ‘Developments in Islamic Finance in the UK’ at a conference on “Islamic Finance in Morocco”. The conference happily coincided with the visit last week of the Rt Hon Lord Mayor of the City of London, Alderman Fiona Woolf, so I was able to join her delegation for a very full and productive programme in Casablanca and Rabat. As well as a 20 strong business delegation, the Lord Mayor was supported by the Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Morocco, Lord Sharman.
Given that today sees the most important European Elections ever, there could be not better time to talk about the UK’s place in the EU. Let me encourage you all to vote – as your conscience determines – but do make time.
As the leading cross-sectoral body for our industry, TheCityUK has been setting out the view of our sector on the EU-UK relationship. It is our role at TheCityUK to make sure that the practitioner voice on the EU debate is heard loudly and clearly, in the UK, the EU and in the international arena.