The UK needs to find some “swagger” to thrive on the world stage after last year’s Brexit vote, the boss of the New York Stock Exchange’s owner has said.
Jeffrey Sprecher, the chief executive of the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), also today suggested that London’s financial services offering provides the government with a “very strong hand” in negotiations.
Speaking at the Prosperity UK conference today, Sprecher said: “Almost every major financial centre on the continent has approached my company to try to attract us to move infrastructure there."
“And yet I’ve had little influence from the UK government saying: ‘Can you bring more here? Or will you stay here?’ And I think it’s a missed opportunity," he added.
“Because I don’t know that a deal is needed as much as an attitude towards ‘how do we make the UK open for business to the world?’ And sometimes if you build a really good store with really good pricing people will actually come. And all you have to do is advertise it.
“And so I think the UK should have a little bit of swagger and not worry too much about the detail.”
Sprecher was speaking on a panel discussing the fate of euro clearing. He revealed that governments from France, Germany and the Netherlands had approached his firm asking him to move clearing operations from the UK.
He continued: “The UK has all the infrastructure and it has all the capital, and it is the financier of the EU27. And yet [I hear]: ‘Oh my God, we in the UK must find a way to get to the EU. Maybe we should adopt EU regulation, maybe we should have the EU courts.’
“In other words, the people with the money – that normally get to make the rules in most cases – are saying: ‘We need to get to them.’”
Sprecher said: “My experience… is we have a lot of clients in continental Europe that say: ‘Help me get to you in London – I can’t be cut off from capital, I can’t be cut off from risk management, from insurance, I can’t run my business, I have to get access to London.’”
London Stock Exchange question dodged
Sprecher also dodged a question on whether ICE would be seeking to acquire the London Stock Exchange after the UK firm’s merger with Deutsche Boerse was blocked last month.
ICE has previously been linked with the LSE. Asked whether he could swoop, Sprecher told City A.M.: “You’re asking me to make a bet on Brexit is what you’re really asking.”
He added: “I can’t answer that. The real question is: What do you think the appetite for foreign business to buy infrastructure in London is today, given the uncertainty? And you will have to be somebody pretty smart and pretty connected to figure out whether this is a good time or a bad time.”