A new report, released today by TheCityUK, sets out a future vision for the UK-based financial and related professional services industry to ensure its long-term growth and success. As an international leader, the industry starts from a strong position.
However, as it becomes more global, competitive and technology fuelled, and with added headwinds from a pending Brexit, the report warns that complacency is not an option. The structural challenges facing the industry must be addressed now and new opportunities created or its competitive advantage, and the continued attractiveness of the UK, could be challenged.
TheCityUK report, UK financial and related professional services: meeting the challenges and delivering opportunities, lays out a comprehensive framework for the industry to deliver innovation, be more resilient and better skilled, identifying five broad areas for focus. Given the importance of the industry to the wider economy, it also makes clear the need for industry to work collaboratively with policymakers and regulators across these areas to bring forward policies that support and drive growth.
Chris Cummings, Chief Executive, TheCityUK, said,
UK-based financial and related professional services have very strong, unique foundations from which to build – rule of law, time zone and an openness to foreign investment being just a few of those – but the world around us is changing fast. The industry is being transformed by automation and technology and this is likely to lead to reduced employment levels in some areas; the US is capitalising on a leading position in growth areas; emerging markets are strengthening; and, regional centres in Asia are benefiting from rapid local GDP growth.
These challenges are not a direct result of the vote to leave the EU, but Brexit does amplify the uncertainty and the urgency of addressing them. Given ours is an industry that employs nearly 2.2 million people right across the country and contributes more tax than any other sector, we need to act decisively to create new opportunities, sustain our global strength and the UK’s continued attractiveness. It is a prize we believe is worth fighting for.
The five areas for partnership identified in the report are:
- Connect globally – international trade and investment partnerships are key. We need to maintain an effective UK-EU relationship and sustain mutual market access, while also strengthening ties with developed economies and emerging markets;
- Drive national growth – build on our strong national footprint to create more connected regional centres with specialist skills and expertise in areas such as emerging technology and middle and back-office. Educational institution and enterprise partnerships will also be key to long-term success;
- Expand our services – new areas of growth in the industry are quickly emerging, and with clear partnership we can ensure the UK retains and grows its position as the global leader in areas such as capital markets, legal services and infrastructure financing;
- Innovate, disrupt, scale – harness the momentum gained in FinTech to see the UK become the place where the next generation of financial and related professional services is made a reality;
- Build skills and attract talent – we need to develop local talent and retain access to a diverse and global workforce with next-generation skills. We need real partnerships with educators, broader apprenticeship schemes and an approach to skilled immigration that ensures we can attract the brightest and the best from around the world.