Chancellor George Osborne: The City has made progress... Now for the next 10 years

George Osborne
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It is not a question of choosing between high standards of conduct & a globally competitive City (Source: Getty)
Today marks a decade since City A.M. established itself as a leading paper for the City of London. Lots has changed over that time, not least the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 that cost Britain billions in lost economic output.

Back then, the City was seen as part of the problem.

But since I became chancellor in 2010, I believe we’ve made enormous progress in making sure the City remains a pre-eminent host for global finance while protecting taxpayers from such catastrophic costs when banks fail.

We’ve overhauled the failed system of financial regulation and restored the Bank of England’s role at the heart of financial sector supervision.

We’ve legislated to ring-fence retail from investment banking, and insisted that our banks are much better capitalised.

And we’ve made significant progress in getting the government out of the business of owning big chunks of the banking sector.

Now we look forward to the next 10 years, and to the new settlement we want to achieve for our financial services industry.

My ambition is clear: I want Britain to have the best and most competitive financial services in the world.

Part of this is making sure that we have the best regulated industry, with the highest standards of conduct. There is no trade-off between high standards of individual conduct and the City’s competitiveness.

We have come a long way in improving the conduct and accountability of individuals in our financial services, but there is still more to do if the City is to regain the public’s trust. That’s why I welcomed the conclusions of the Fair and Effective Markets Review, published in June this year, which set out the next steps in restoring the integrity of our financial markets.

I want to cement Britain’s position as the pre-eminent Western location for international finance, and for new markets involving the renminbi, rupee and Islamic finance.

Before the end of 2017, there will also be a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union. Britain benefits hugely from the single market in financial services, and the City thrives as the global centre of European finance, trading twice as many euros every day than the whole Eurozone put together. But one of the greatest threats to the City’s competitiveness comes from misguided European legislation, so a central demand in our renegotiation will be that Europe reins in costly and damaging regulation.

My guiding principle in this process will be one of fairness: fairness between the countries in the euro and the euro-outs such as Britain, and seeing the integrity of the single market preserved.

Over the coming years I also want to finish privatising the state-owned banks. We’ve made significant progress: our stake in Lloyds is less than half what it was, we’ve sold Northern Rock to a strong new challenger, Virgin Money, and we’ve started selling our stake in Royal Bank of Scotland. Completing the job is the right thing to do for the taxpayer, and for the British economy.

This is my vision for the new settlement for our financial services over the next decade. I look forward to working to make it happen, and to reading about our progress in this fine newspaper.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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