When people think of London, our city’s iconic buildings, red buses, black taxis, and vibrant cultural scene often come to mind. But the capital offers so much more than that, with PwC finding in a recent report that London, for the second year in a row, is the world’s number one place for companies to do business.
London was strong in almost all areas, ranking within the top three in six out of the 10 indicators. The City of London plays a large part in this success, hosting over 6,500 businesses which employ 414,000 people within the Square Mile.
The City has been recognised as a hub for international business, with four of the world’s top 10 law firms siting their headquarters here, and more than 250 foreign banks having offices in London. The Square Mile is a centre for shipbroking, as well as home to some of the world’s largest commodities companies. Lloyd’s is the world’s leading insurance exchange, with underwriters and brokers covering more than 200 territories.
Whenever I meet with potential international investors, I like to point out that within a two-minute walk from my office in Guildhall it is possible to meet with world-class bankers, lawyers, shipbrokers, insurance brokers, management consultants, accountants, and communications consultants. This vibrant business ecosystem is unmatched anywhere in the world.
While it is brilliant that London is being recognised for being a city open to, and welcoming of, businesses, there is still work to do, with issues such as sustainability and broadband quality needing to be addressed to ensure London’s future growth. One highlighted area for improvement in the capital is infrastructure. London ranks eighth in transport, but this is due to improve in coming years with the completion of Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure project. When Crossrail’s central section opens in 2018, it will bring an additional 320,000 people to within half an hour’s travel of the City.
It is worth noting, however, that PwC’s report was compiled using data from 2015, and therefore does not take into account the many unanswered questions that are arising from our vote to leave the European Union. Answers to Brexit questions are starting to come into focus following Parliament’s summer break, and we will be working with government to ensure that London’s continued success is secured.
We need to recognise that continued access to the Single Market together with influence over the rules will provide the best outcome for customers and businesses. We should also acknowledge that it is good for the country to have access to skilled workers from the EU and elsewhere. Most importantly, extensive consultations with business should continue to take place.
The City of London Corporation’s main priority is ensuring that Brexit occurs in a way that causes the least disruption to financial markets as uncertainty is not good for business. I can say with some certainty, however, that the City will remain a world-leading place to do business, primarily because of the world-class people that live and work here.