This speech was given by Mark Tucker, TheCityUK Board Chairman, at TheCityUK's International Conference, held at The Corinthia in London on 07 April 2022.
Thank you, Miles, and a very warm welcome to you all to TheCityUK’s first International Conference. It is both timely and important.
I am very grateful to our conference partners Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and HSBC for their support.
I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person today. I arrived yesterday in the Americas, the third continent I have been in, over the last 48 hours!
Connecting different regions, different countries, different cultures, different industries, and different people has always been the foundation of how we, in the financial and professional services industry, operate both as individual businesses and collectively as a sector.
We are at our best when we design, manufacture, and deliver innovative financial products that match the demand for finance with the supply of capital across geographies, economies, and continents.
Today, our global relationships across the world are under greater pressure than ever before. Globalisation is threatened by the pandemic, by geopolitical tensions and by large-scale armed conflict on the continent of Europe while markets and supply-chains fragment.
At exactly the same time, these relationships are of even greater importance to our members as Britain redefines her place in the world.
It is therefore critical that we come together today to reflect on how to make the most of the many opportunities ahead across the international financial system and also how to overcome the obstacles that exist.
The global backdrop is uncertain and challenging.
The war in Ukraine is devastating. There is an urgent need for a resolution that respects and preserves the rights of Ukraine and its people as an independent nation.
Our thoughts are with all those impacted by the conflict, especially those in Ukraine, where over four million people have been forced to leave their homes and many innocent civilians have lost their lives and also those in neighbouring countries like Poland who are at the forefront of the humanitarian response to the crisis.
Many of the organisations represented here today are directly part of, or are supporting, that response and our industry has an important role to play:
- We are working tirelessly to apply the sanctions that have been put in place by the UK and other Governments to apply pressure on Russia to stop its invasion and look for a peaceful resolution of the conflict.
- We are helping our customers to manage their own challenging situations;
- We are supporting colleagues in both Ukraine and Russia who have found themselves in very difficult circumstances;
I know I speak for everyone when I say that a just end to this devastating conflict cannot come too soon.
And, when that time comes, the financial and related professional services industry will stand ready to play its part in the hard work of economic reconstruction, bringing to bear its expertise and experience.
At the same time, the pandemic continues to pose serious challenges in many parts of the world.
The recent rising infection levels in Hong Kong, for example, have been very concerning and the associated restrictions have seriously impacted those of us with staff and customers there.
Similarly, China is battling the highest number of cases in two years, resulting in a lockdown in Shanghai.
Although we enjoyed a glimmer of hope and optimism earlier this year with the global economy apparently recovering and global trade growing once again these latest events are exacerbating underlying issues and mean we now face another potentially considerable shock.
Global growth will be weaker than previously expected and inflation will be significantly higher, with the prospect of stagflation looming even if governments step-in to cap growing energy bills, living standards will be impacted, and consumer and capital spending will take a hit.
Already the surge in energy costs has led to partial closures of some factories in Europe, and energy security remains a key concern. Meanwhile, market volatility will continue. Once again, we are operating in a new landscape.
As a sector, there are a number of things we can do to navigate it.
Thankfully, recognising the need to change and adapt is in the DNA of Britain’s financial services industry.
It is what we have done for centuries and what has made the UK central to the global financial system.
Constant innovation has been the cornerstone of our success, built on a determination to provide better service to our customers.
And closely connected to our deep capital markets is our strong commitment to the Rule of Law, adherence to the highest regulatory standards, and access to an unrivalled pool of talent.
In recent times we have faced the challenges of needing to redefine our trading relationship with the EU and other key global markets.
In the case of the EU this process of redefinition continues.
And as long as it is unfinished business, it is likely that we will be unable to maximise our contribution to both the UK and EU economies.
Like all of us at this Conference, I strongly support the Government’s commitment to Global Britain: after all, that is why we are holding this event, TheCityUK’s first ever international conference.
I also believe that, for us to succeed, Global must mean Global.
Economic engagement across oceans and across continents is essential for a great global trading nation such as ours and must include harvesting the benefits of connecting with the vast markets of Europe, of America, of China and of Asia - as well as deepening our connections with the longer-term, high potential markets beyond.
There is no escaping the fact that, compared with key competitors, the UK economy despite the growing absolute size and volume of many market segments has seen an overall relative decline in recent years.
The rise of the financial centres in Asia, and the ongoing strength and resilience of the US, are two of the reasons for this.
We need to do everything we possibly can to ensure that the UK’s status as a world-leading financial centre is maintained.
This is the aim of the international strategy published by TheCityUK a few months ago.
It sets out five ways in which we can make the UK even more open and competitive.
First - further strengthening of our capital markets and our key competitive fundamentals: tax, regulation, and access to talent.
Second - the continued liberalisation of trade and services with key markets including the EU, US, China, Japan, and Switzerland, among others.
Third - the ongoing aim of achieving regulatory coherence and securing the regulatory agreements that support services trade.
Fourth - ensuring recognition overseas for UK professional qualifications so that our industry can provide effective services to international clients.
And finally - becoming a hub for new global markets in data and technology, sustainable finance, international investment, risk management and advisory - enabling the UK to act as a gateway for global investment and supporting the digitalisation of the industry and the wider economy.
I am confident that this is achievable if industry, government, and regulators all work closely together in partnership.
We all need to play our part in achieving these goals.
And it is enormously encouraging that we are already seeing progress in many of these areas. In particular
- The Government has committed to adding a secondary competitiveness mandate to UK regulators in line with other successful financial centres around the world
- The Chancellor of the Exchequer has committed to delivering an annual statement on the competitiveness of our industry
- The Justice Secretary has committed £1bn to increase capacity across the courts system which is a key component of the UK’s world-leading legal services offering
- And the UK Migration Advisory Committee has recommended that the Home Office remove the requirement for work visas for short-term workers coming to the UK.
These are all areas on which TheCityUK has campaigned on behalf of the industry and successfully brought about change that will deliver better outcomes.
Of course, there are also still areas where we need to push for change such as the various rules for UK financial services companies operating in the EU and on mobility for business personnel.
So, we will continue our dialogue and engagement with our members and with governments and regulators both here in the UK and overseas, to ensure even greater global connectivity and alignment.
Our Conference today is another small but important, step in this regard.
I believe we are more united and better represented as an industry than ever before and that this is delivering better outcomes for our members.
On a personal basis, my term as Chairman of TheCityUK runs to the end of May this year when I will hand over the reins to Dame Anne Richards Chief Executive of Fidelity International.
When I took over as Chairman in 2019 I noted that my predecessor had piloted TheCityUK through a particularly challenging period following the EU referendum.
Given that my own tenure has been dominated by a global pandemic and ever more challenging geopolitics I wish all the very best for Anne as she takes on these new responsibilities. I hope she has a calmer and quieter time as Chair than either I or my predecessor have enjoyed! Although I suspect that may be somewhat wishful thinking.
I know Anne will do a great job working alongside our new Leadership Council Chair, Bruce Carnegie-Brown, a very worthy successor to Sir Adrian Montague.
My warm and sincere thanks go to Catherine McGuinness at the City of London Corporation and my colleagues on our Board, as well as our counterparts from across the Trade Associations and our international partners.
I would also like to thank Miles and his excellent team at TheCityUK for all their hard work, energy and efforts on behalf of our industry. It is both important and valuable. As has been said to me many times these past three years: if TheCityUK didn’t already exist we would need to create it.
Finally, I look forward to seeing, supporting and championing what will be achieved in the years ahead by our industry, under TheCityUK’s leadership.