Annual Conference 2016: Panel Session 1: The UK’s Competitive position as an international financial centre

Chair: Christian May, Editor City A.M. Panellists: Douglas Flint, Group Chairman, HSBC; David Sproul, Senior Partner and Chief Executive, Deloitte; Clare Woodman, Global Chief Operating Officer for Institutional Securities, Morgan Stanley, and; Baroness Bowles of Berkhamsted, former Chair of the ECON Committee in the European Parliament.

This session discussed the outcome of the EU referendum and its potential impact on the UK’s overall competitiveness. Panellists discussed the resilience of financial institutions and their capacity to adapt following the outcome of the vote. The response of firms across the industry and the contingency plans implemented were also discussed. It was agreed that the overall level of preparedness reinforces the lessons learned since the financial crisis, and that regulators and policymakers have improved the UK’s regulatory framework and the infrastructure of the financial system over the last decade.

The shape of the UK’s future relationship with the EU was discussed at length, including the complexity and timing of any potential exit negotiations. Clear messages from the industry and joined-up communication from the Government and UK regulators were cited as crucial factors to ensure the needs of the financial and related professional services industry are met during the negotiations. Access to the Single Market was cited as a critical priority. For both Europe and the UK there will need to be a smooth transition period and any transition should involve consultation between the Government, the 27 EU Member States and the private sector.

Contributions to the EU budget, free movement of people and compliance with current EU laws and regulations were also identified as areas for consideration for the forthcoming negotiations. It was noted that the industry will have a key role to play in highlighting the importance of skilled talent from the EU and beyond to London and the UK as a whole. The importance of providing reassurance to EU nationals working in the UK about their future was also underlined and comment around ensuring that the UK has a suitably skilled workforce to manage the various opportunities and challenges to come, i.e., growing customers’ expectations, cyber threats and the increasing digitisation of financial services.