Chief Executive's Insight - April 2016

Earlier this week we were in Brussels to continue our engagement with EU policymakers on the strategic issues of most importance to our industry.

We participated in a series of bilateral meetings with MEPs and senior officials at the European Commission that served to draw policymakers’ attention to the recently published report from the International Regulatory Strategy Group (IRSG): Retail financial services: bringing real benefits to Europe’s customers. In addition, we also discussed the IRSG’s submission to the Commission’s call for evidence, on the cumulative impact of the EU’s regulatory framework. The visit also provided an opportunity to build and maintain TheCityUK relationships with EU legislators and to gather intelligence on the political climate in Brussels.

We continue to run a programme of work leading up to the EU referendum in June, with various policymaker roundtables and seminars scheduled in the coming months designed to explore both sides of the debate in a balanced way. Earlier in April we commissioned PwC to consider the economic implications of leaving the EU on UK financial services. The report generated widespread media coverage in the likes of City A.M. and Reuters and good engagement on Twitter. We also continue to push our message through regional media and you may have seen a series of comment pieces from me in the Belfast Telegraph, Yorkshire Post, the Bristol Post and The Scotsman. It is important that we contribute to the debate around the country as ours is a truly national industry.

Our work on improving the attractiveness of the UK as a place to do business continues with the publication of our upcoming report: 'Cyber and the City; making the UK's financial sector safe from cyber attacks’, on May 17, where we will welcome speakers from across the industry and Government. The report’s recommendations, aimed at individuals, firms and policymakers, will focus on making the UK safer, better at information sharing, increasing the talent pool, strengthening Board engagement on cyber, and ensuring a regulatory environment that supports the fight. Speakers already confirmed for the event include John McFarlane, Chairman, TheCityUK and Chairman, Barclays Bank; Mark Weil, CEO UK & Ireland, Marsh, and; Sir Iain Lobban, former Head of Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ). To register your interest in attending, please click here.

In response to the HM Treasury / Virgin Money report: ‘Empowering Productivity: Harnessing the talent of women in financial services’, HMT has launched the Women in Finance Charter, asking firms signing up to commit to implementing the report’s recommendations. The intention of the Charter is to help make a genuine difference to gender diversity across the industry. You can find further information about the Charter here. We are currently working on how we can best engage with this and would appreciate comments from members.

Following the publication of the Business Tax Roadmap by HM Treasury, TheCityUK launched its dedicated tax group earlier this month. The inaugural meeting of the group, brought together tax leaders drawn from the TheCityUK’s membership to discuss our strategy on taxation matters and identify tax issues that currently constitute impediments to the UK’s competiveness. In setting up the group, TheCityUK is seeking to develop its policy on taxation issues with the aim of fostering a conducive fiscal environment through the adoption of a taxation strategy that boosts the UK’s attractiveness and supports the UK’s position as Europe’s financial centre.

In respect of our International programme, at the beginning of April, the Financial Services Trade and Investment Board (FSTIB) met to discuss potential workstreams and next steps. Its focus is on improving the UK’s competitiveness and increasing financial services trade and investment. Chaired by HM Treasury, FSTIB brings together government departments and senior private sector representatives to identify priorities and ensure delivery of projects related to them. TheCityUK is the key private sector delivery partner for FSTIB. Along with our Chairman, I am pleased to sit on the FSTIB and will be communicating the next steps to members in the coming weeks.

Earlier this month I visited the US to further deepen our relationships with policymakers, influencers and member firms. Whilst there, I also took part in the annual Europe-US Harvard Law School Symposium on financial services which attracted over a hundred of the leading figures in the field from the private sector, regulators and political world. TheCityUK paper I presented examined why the forces favouring divergence remain obstinately strong and set out positive options for change, potentially through the Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP). Negotiators have also been meeting in the latest round of discussions to try to agree an outline TTIP agreement by the end of the year. We continue to engage at all levels to achieve an ambitious, comprehensive agreement.

After the Symposium, I visited New York and Boston meeting the leadership of member firms and government stakeholders. The attitude towards the UK as a place to do business has improved markedly, especially as far as the regulatory agenda was concerned. Looking to the future, the UK’s role in promoting FinTech should be a generator of investment and growth and our initiatives on Cyber Security and expertise in infrastructure will be looked at in more detail with scope for transatlantic cooperation.

As part of upscaling our work on the ASEAN region, I met the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo, on 19 April for a roundtable with his Ministers for Trade, Finance and Foreign Affairs, the Governor of Bank Indonesia, and representatives from the UK financial services sector. We discussed the steps Indonesia has taken to reform its economic and business environment in line with his Government’s goals to improve openness and competitiveness, and support a growth rate of 5.2 to 5.6 percent in 2016. I am pleased to note that the President and his ministers acknowledged the work of TheCityUK’s ASEAN and Islamic Finance Advisory Groups. They welcomed both groups’ continued engagement with senior Indonesian policymakers and regulators in Jakarta and London on a range of topics including supporting Indonesia’s position as the largest issuer of sovereign sukuk, using the UK’s expertise to help grow Indonesia’s capital market and to address its significant infrastructure requirements through PPPs.

The Board has agreed to expand the way in which we work with members and those from outside of our industry by creating a small number of exclusive partnership opportunities in order to strengthen our expertise and capacity in our priority work programme. Becoming a partner will allow firms to build and consolidate relationships and to showcase their expertise in a particular area. It presents a unique opportunity for significant profile building and engagement for those seeking to position with city leaders, policymakers and senior practitioners alike. For more information on becoming a partner or to find out more please get in touch.