It’s been a busy few months for the team at TheCityUK; we’ve kicked off 2023 in the same vein as we finished 2022, with activity and key outcomes being delivered across our programme of work.
Earlier this month we held our Annual Dinner, in partnership with Shearman & Sterling, which was a great success. Despite being sandwiched around two train strikes, on the night we welcomed around 230 guests including senior industry practitioners, regulators, ministers, diplomats and media who heard speeches from the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Shadow Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy and our Board Chair Anne Richards DBE.
At the end of 2022, we delivered another of our major events, our National Conference, held in partnership with SFE in Edinburgh. Sponsored by PwC and supported by State Street, it focused on the significant contribution financial and related professional services make to economies up and down the country, and the industry’s role in supporting key issues such as regional growth, levelling up, diversity and inclusion and the transition to net zero. Alongside a series of insightful panels and in conversations, around 260 delegates heard keynote addresses from the First Minister, the Rt Hon Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Scottish Labour Leader, Anas Sarwar MSP, and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Andrew Griffith MP. Feedback from delegates was excellent.
We continue to press industry priorities on a number of key issues, including the Financial Services & Markets Bill. A key priority has been to see included in the Bill a mechanism for improved regulator transparency and accountability. We were therefore very pleased to see the introduction of a reporting amendment – Clause 37 –during the House of Commons report stage, and will continue to push for this Clause to remain in the Bill during its passage.
The addition of the Foreign Influence Registration Scheme in the National Security Bill has also been a recent priority. We’ve shared industry concerns with the Minister for Security and representatives across the House of Lords about aspects of it that would damage international competitiveness and have been pleased to see those referenced by the likes of Lord Clement-Jones. Again, this remains an issue on which we will continue to pursue. We’ve also submitted our submission to the Budget based on our ‘Six-point plan for growth’, which has a clear focus on close collaboration between industry, government and the regulators to enhance it’s the UK’s competitiveness as an international financial centre.
Further to the announcement in the Chancellor’s Edinburgh Reforms that the Government’s updated Green Finance Strategy will be published in early 2023, we were pleased to see recommendations in Chris Skidmore’s review Green Finance Strategy echo the concerns outlined in our ‘Enabling the net zero transition: the role of financial and related professional services’ report, prepared with PwC last year.
Last month we launched our ‘Improving regulatory efficiency on authorisations’ report, which puts forward recommendations to transform the Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority’s (PRA) authorisations processes. While recognising that both the FCA and PRA are already taking forward measures to improve these process, delivering them in conjunction with our recommendations will improve their speed, efficiency and effectiveness – critical to maintaining the UK’s competitive edge.
We’ve also recently launched two of our established annual reports ‘Legal excellence, internationally renowned: UK legal services 2022’ and ‘Key facts about the UK as an international financial centre 2022’. Both are key compendiums of data and information on the UK’s strength as a centre for international legal services and dispute resolution and the UK’s position as a leading international financial centre respectively.
Preparations are well underway for our 2023 International Conference on 20 April, sponsored by Freshfields and HSBC. The agenda will cover issues such as investment and growth, transformative innovation, the net-zero transition and international trade and investment trends. Confirmed keynote speakers include the Minister for Investment and Shadow Secretary of State for International Trade. If you haven’t registered to attend, you can do so here.
There has been a lot of activity within our international programme of work. We recently held a member briefing to offer a progress update on our international strategy priorities one year on from its launch. If you missed the briefing, you can watch the video here.
In January, I travelled to Hong Kong as part of a delegation by the World Alliance of Financial Centres (WAIFC). I spoke about the importance of cross-border data flows at the Asian Financial Forum, and met with members, regulators and officials from the Hong Kong SAR administration to discuss issues such as the prospects for Greater Bay Area integration, as well as regulatory approaches for digital assets and capital markets.
I’m delighted that Bill Winters of Standard Chartered Bank has agreed to become the UK Chair of the India-UK Financial Partnership (IUKFP), succeeding David Craig. I am very grateful to David for the fantastic work he has done in steering this group since it was relaunched in 2020. TheCityUK will continue to manage the UK secretariat for the IUKFP at the request of HM Treasury. I will be in Mumbai and New Delhi later this month to meet with key officials, regulators and businesses to progress the IUKFP’s agenda and discuss shared areas of interest including FinTech, data and sustainable finance.
We continue to work with the Department for International Trade to advocate industry priorities as the UK seeks accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), as well as engaging on ongoing FTA negotiations with various markets. We also continue to take forward work to support the development of emerging international financial centres, and are currently running a Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office project to help realise Vietnam's ambitions to develop an international financial centre in Ho Chi Minh City.