Chief Executive's Insight - January 2016

In advance of the Council of Ministers meeting in February we have been working to ensure that the views of UK-based financial and related professional services are heard both at home and in the EU. Our robust evidence-based approach helps ensure the effectiveness of our work and we are in the process of adding further to our research on this topic.

In December, I gave evidence at the House of Lords EU Select Committee session on ‘Visions of EU Reform’, putting forward our members’ views to key policymakers about the negative consequences of a Brexit to our industry and the benefits of staying in a reformed EU. Our Chairman, John McFarlane, also spoke exclusively to Bloomberg earlier this month about the impact on the industry of a Brexit.

We reviewed our EU reform work to date and heard opinions and perspectives from leading influencers in this area, including senior UK and EU policymakers, as well as experienced practitioners and commentators at our recent member briefing. The event proved very timely given the discussions at Davos on Brexit the day before – you may have read my comments on this in the FT and City A.M. The two keynote speeches by Josefine Wallat, Deputy Head of the Northern European Section, German Foreign Office and Katharine Braddick, Director of International Financial Services, HM Treasury, covered the German and UK views of EU reform. We also discussed our new research, in collaboration with BritainThinks, looking at the UK public’s perception and attitudes towards EU membership.

This week I travelled to Brussels for a delegation with members to discuss our new research on the future of retail financial services across Europe, promote the proposals set out in our reports EU reform – detailed proposals for a more competitive Europe and to discuss the ideas highlighted in Capital Markets for Growing Companies: A review of the European listings regime. My colleagues have also visited Paris and Madrid recently to further our bilateral discussions with similar groups of financial and related professional services. We will be continuing to further our objectives with a Chairman’s dinner arranged with Olivier Guersent, DG FISMA.

Closer to home, our UK policymaker engagement programme continues against the back drop of English Local Government, Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly Elections, alongside the Mayor of London vote. We will maintain our engagement through a range of policymaker roundtables, personal briefings and Chairman’s dinners to ensure that the Government, Opposition and other key policymakers are well briefed on the importance of financial and related professional services and its role in supporting economic growth and job creation. This year we have already held member roundtables with Rt Hon Dominic Grieve QC MP, Crispin Blunt MP and the Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, and have upcoming events scheduled with Seema Malhotra MP and Rt Hon David Mundell MP.

Following on from the successful launch of Cardiff as a Financial Centre of Excellence last November, we are continuing our regional programme by organising events with UKTI, in Leeds and Manchester. During these seminars James Wharton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Communities and Local Government with responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse, will make keynote speeches. These events will discuss government policy relating to the region and the plans to develop the Northern Powerhouse.

To help policymakers better understand the challenges our members are facing and responding to, our Independent Economists Group is soon to release its new research around demographics and the impact that they will have on economic growth and our industry. This will be followed by our keenly awaited annual analysis of the UK as a centre for financial and related professional services. This research is being complemented by several new working groups covering FinTech, taxation and cyber risk.

A highlight of the last few weeks has been our management of the India-UK Financial Partnership (IUKFP), with partners Kotak Mahindra Bank, through which we provided the core business agenda for the Economic and Financial Dialogue between the Chancellor and the Indian Finance Minister. At a launch hosted by the two Ministers at No.11 Downing Street, we released the fourth paper of the IUKFP, on Infrastructure Funding in India – Creating Success. I also highlighted the opportunities this market offers our members and the wider UK in an op-ed article I penned for City A.M, which you can read here, and our work was noted in The Telegraph following an interview Sir Gerry Grimstone.

On trade policy more broadly, our work on the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA) has been referenced in the E15 Initiative Report “Rethinking Services”, which was launched at Davos last week. This is a key piece of work aimed at opening up markets and improving rules in areas such as licensing, financial services, telecoms, e-commerce, maritime transport, and professionals moving abroad temporarily to provide services.