City should lead globally and show benefits locally

Michael Bear
The Square Mile and London are key international assets for the UK, generating export earnings, taxes and corporate profits.

But the business that is done in the City and in other centres throughout Britain has a major domestic impact and we must look to maximise this.

Therefore we need to find ways of sharing the City’s success more directly with the public across the UK, so that more people feel that having a global financial centre based here is good for us all.

In other words, the City should lead globally and demonstrate its benefits locally.

The fallout from the financial crisis has raised the stakes: it is no longer enough for us to simply highlight the billions generated for the UK exchequer, paying for schools, hospitals and roads.

Instead, we must point to the direct and tangible benefits of London's position as a world leading financial hub.

One of these is how we share capital and business with other domestic centres.

This is very much an interdependent relationship – the capacity and functions provided by other cities are vital to our continued success and vice versa.

This underlines the fact that the City is about more than just the Square Mile: the UK financial services industry is a national brand – not just a London one.

That is why I am this week visiting two major drivers of economic growth in the North-west – Liverpool and Manchester.

Manchester today employs nearly a quarter of a million people across the sector and is fast establishing a reputation as the European capital for lower to mid-market private equity. The city region is also home to over 60 banks, over half of which are foreign owned.

Liverpool, likewise, makes a substantial contribution to the North-west and the UK. Indeed, it is the leading centre outside London for wealth management services and has a particularly strong maritime tradition.

I am keen to stress that Manchester, Liverpool and other UK financial centres should not be seen as separate from the City but rather as integral parts of it – we share the same regulator and our businesses are tied together.

Our connectivity makes us all stronger. It also helps to spread wealth across the country, with two-thirds of the one million financial services jobs throughout Britain based outside of London.

I have a background in the demand side of the financial markets. As a result, I have seen first-hand the transformation of local communities such as Spitalfields by funding and advice from the City of London.

Financial and professional services are the cement that binds the UK economy together.

My job is to speak for the City and – as a builder and property man – make sure it’s standing on strong enough foundations to support the wider recovery on both a global and local level.

Michael Bear is Lord Mayor of the City of London