As I write this column, I am fresh into my new role as policy chairman of the City of London Corporation and am setting out my aims and goals for the next five years.
I want to see a vibrant, thriving City contributing to the prosperity and well-being of the capital and the country. And I am determined that the City of London Corporation will continue to play its part in making this happen.
I have been an elected member of the Corporation for the last 20 years and have seen just how much the City has prospered over that time. Having worked in the professional services sector from just before Big Bang, I have witnessed first-hand how the Square Mile, and the wider financial and professional services sector, has become the dominant financial centre across Europe and indeed the rest of the world.
Growth has been exponential and innovation has been relentless. I am proud to have been a part of this.
I have witnessed the construction of the eastern cluster, an iconic set of buildings on the London landscape. I’ve seen schools based in and around the Square Mile transform from average to excellent. Our capital’s parks have flourished – in more ways than one – thanks to investment from the Corporation.
The reason I highlight these achievements is not to boast about the City Corporation’s important initiatives – although I am immensely proud of the work – but to demonstrate just how much the City has to offer.
At a time when leaders from the UK and across the EU are establishing their negotiating strategies and delving into the intricate details of the monumental separation of Brexit, I see all these different elements playing their own role in the wider argument.
After all, Berlin might have a buzzing tech scene, but it doesn’t have the UK’s regulatory framework that enables fintechs to become so successful – take, for example, the regulatory sandbox which has inspired similar initiatives across the world.
New York has a thriving bond and derivatives market, but it doesn’t have the UK’s entrenched history – the Bank of England was established more than 80 years before the Declaration of Independence.
Singapore can enhance a firm’s presence in Asian markets, but UK clearing houses are ahead of the south east Asian country for renminbi clearing, sitting only behind China on the world stage.
Pointing to these strengths is not to underestimate the difficult path that lies ahead of us. Brexit undoubtedly represents an enormous potential change to the UK’s world-leading financial services sector – both in terms of regulation and the way in which we trade services.
My background in financial law helps me understand the complexities that Brexit poses. Through engagement with firms, trade bodies and government representatives, the City Corporation has led on some important work in this area and in supporting global opportunities and innovation for the future – work that I’m looking forward to developing further.
I am keen also to explore how the sector can benefit from leaving the EU, particularly in developing our relationships with new international partners.