Miles Celic's blog - October 2020

I posted my last blog at the height of summer, hopefully since then you have been able to enjoy a break or some time away ahead of what is already promising to be a busy and eventful autumn.

With government guidance currently encouraging us to work at home or remotely if we can do so, TheCityUK team nevertheless continues to deliver high-quality outputs and outcomes across the breadth of our programme in collaboration with members.

Over the summer promoting our recapitalisation work, and the sheer scale of the debt challenge facing UK SMEs, has remained a priority. At its core, the work – which involved more than 200 experts from firms across the industry – has emphasised the impending unsustainable debt challenge and set out measures to help address it. The Chancellor’s statement on his Winter Economy Plan late last month clearly demonstrated that HM Treasury has acknowledged this issue and has taken steps to mitigate its impact. This outcome is a real testament to the hard work and efforts of everyone involved in the Recapitalisation project and I am hugely grateful to everyone who so generously gave up their time. In particular, I would like to thank our Leadership Council Chairman Sir Adrian Montague, who chaired this work, and Omar Ali, EY EMEIA Financial Services Managing Partner, who led the Technical Working Group. We will continue to keep watching brief on this issue over the coming months as the Covid crisis is, sadly, far from over. 

On Saturday I joined our lively panel at the virtual Conservative Party Conference focused on supporting economic recovery, but also touching on a range of issues from Brexit, skills and inclusivity to post-Covid trends. The panel also included the Economic Secretary to the Treasury John Glen MP, Bim Afolami MP and Tasnim Ghiawadwala, Head of UK Corporate Banking at Barclays. The same theme was discussed at our virtual Labour Party Conference panel, which featured the Shadow Chancellor, Rt Hon Anneliese Dodds MP, in her first event after delivering her Conference speech. It was good to hear her positive comments on our recapitalisation work and the challenge it seeks to address.

As the timer ticks down on the UK-EU negotiations, we continue to push our priorities for the talks, stressing that regardless of the outcome the UK must remain open to global business, be competitive and consistent and demonstrate its continued commitment to open and free markets. These messages have been emphasised in various meetings of our joint programme of EU activity with the City of London Corporation, which have seen us meet virtually with German, French and Irish stakeholders, among others. We also held a virtual roundtable with Spanish industry trade associations, hosted in conjunction with the British Embassy Madrid.

Our latest immigration report – ‘International trade agreements and UK immigration policy: a practical blueprint for evolution’, in collaboration with EY, was published last month. We ran a very popular member webinar, featuring Kevin Foster MP, Minister for Future Borders and Immigration – which you can watch here if you missed the event.

While Covid-19 continues to restrict our travel, we maintain good engagement with international markets and our work on international trade and investment issues remains intense. Over recent weeks I have held a series of virtual meetings with US-based key stakeholders and officials which provided an excellent opportunity to discuss future industry cooperation between the UK and US, as well as issues such as Covid-19 recovery and wider geopolitical matters. We also launched a scoping paper on formalising the UK-US regulatory dialogue through our collaboration with SIFMA: the British American Finance Alliance. I am very pleased to announce that Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Chairman of Lloyd’s of London, has agreed to take on the position of Chair of our US MAG.

Our Japan MAG was heavily engaged with the UK negotiating team throughout the negotiations of the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and stands ready to support related activity. Through our Swiss MAG we continue to work with our Swiss partner and the UK and Swiss governments on issues relating to the future UK-Swiss future bilateral relationship and early last month, we organised the Financial Services Industry Roundtable ahead of the UK-Swiss Financial Dialogue. I am also very pleased to have been appointed to two of the Department for International Trade’s new Trade Advisory Groups for both financial and professional services and act as an advisor on both.

Our virtual events programme continues to gather strong momentum and is well-attended by members and stakeholders, with various webinars, in conversations and roundtables being held over recent weeks. Preparation is well underway for our first virtual conference – our National Conference 2020, in partnership with BNP Paribas – which will take place across 17 – 19 November. Confirmed speakers include Andy Haldane, Chief Economist, Bank of England, Rt Hon Anneliese Dodds MP, Shadow Chancellor, Bridget Phillipson MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Alistair Darling, former Chancellor. Also kindly supported by Yorkshire Building Society, DLA Piper and BNY Mellon, the National Conference is free to attend. For more information and to register your interest to attend, visit our event page.

As ever, this is just a few highlights of work in train. More information on some of our other recent activity and our latest blog posts can be found on our news page. If you would like any further information on any of our work or events, please contact us.

Miles