Industry unveils new international strategy for UK to regain financial centre leadership in five years

The UK’s status as a world leading financial centre is at risk unless industry, government and regulators work together to boost long term competitiveness, deepen key trade links, and focus on new key areas of future global growth.

To address this challenge, TheCityUK has worked with firms, business groups and partners across the industry to set out an ambitious new international strategy that seeks to return the UK to being the world’s leading international financial centre within five years.

Over the past decade, despite the growing size and volume of many market segments, the UK has seen decline relative to its international competitors. This has been driven by a number of factors, not least the highly impressive growth of new financial centres in Asia and the ongoing progress made by the United States. It has resulted in the UK losing ground in global market share in some areas of financial and related professional services.

The international strategy – ‘Making the UK the leading global financial centre’ – sets out a plan for future success, with a clear focus on bolstering competitiveness and attractiveness. The plan underlines the need to strengthen market share in existing areas of advantage, such as FinTech. It also calls for the UK to build its capabilities in future areas of global growth where the UK has a strong competitive advantage, such as data and technology, global ESG markets, international investment opportunities and risk management.

Delivering the strategy will create more high-skilled, high-value UK jobs, and attract more foreign direct investment into businesses in all sectors across the UK. It will put the UK at the forefront of technology and innovation and position the UK as a leader in financing the growth of the green economy.

The strategy highlights that significant and sustained effort will be needed by industry, government and regulators for the UK to become the world-leading international financial centre. Industry is convinced it is achievable with the right mindset and a clear focus on competitiveness.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said:

The UK’s financial and related professional services industry is a strategic national asset which provides millions of high-value jobs right across the country, attracts inward investment, contributes significant tax revenue and generates large export surpluses. Being host to the world’s leading financial centre provides large and widespread economic benefit to the UK – which is why there is no shortage of competitors seeking to grow their own financial centres.

“One of the greatest risks for any successful financial centre is complacency. Europe is littered with cities that were once the leading international centre of their day. The last decade has been one of growth for our industry, yet global competitors have grown faster. However, with the right strategy in place and a clear focus on delivery, the UK can pull away once again from its competitors. It is an ambition that needs industry, government, and regulators to work together. It will take sustained focus, cooperation and determination.”

TheCityUK’s strategy sets out a number of steps necessary to make the UK the world’s leading international financial centre. These include:

  • Developing new global markets around key areas of future global demand, including becoming a global hub for data and technology by championing common ground rules for digital trade and seek targeted data transfer agreements.
  • Positioning the UK at the heart of global ESG markets, partnering with other countries to create global ESG disclosure standards and more interoperability of ESG taxonomies.
  • Strengthening the UK’s role as a gateway through which global investors can channel funds to businesses across the UK and growth markets around the world. 
  • Helping the UK to become the world leader in risk management and in developing alternative risk transfer instruments.
  • Attracting the world’s talent by making visas cheaper and quicker to process.
  • Strengthening capital markets by adopting the recommendations of Lord Hill’s review.
  • Boosting foreign direct investment by amending the tax regime for the financial services sector.
  • Adopting a more agile and dynamic regulatory approach.
  • Supporting UK law's effectiveness and competitiveness and positioning the UK as a global centre for commercial legal services.
  • Helping the UK remain at the forefront of financial technology and innovation.
  • Liberalising trade with developed markets and emerging markets, with a focus on agreements that support services.
  • Securing international recognition for UK qualifications and improving labour mobility, strong market access and investment protection provisions.