AFTER an incredible couple of weeks for the UK, the first leg of London 2012 has drawn to a close. It has shown the very best of Britain, with athletes from over 200 countries coming to demonstrate their excellence. Team GB excelled, just as Britain excels in business.
There’s an old joke that the British are only good at sports in which they can sit down. It’s not true. We do well in sports that require technical excellence. And the same is true of our approach to business. We have a reputation for high-class, high-value, innovative products and services. So, one of the lasting legacies of London 2012 must be meeting the challenge of creating lasting jobs and growth – and jobs and growth in the sectors in which we have a global reputation for excellence, quality and reliability.
There has been plenty of that on show over the past few weeks at the highly successful British Business Embassy at Lancaster House. All kinds of British enterprise and expertise were represented – from a focus on our partnerships with China and Brazil, to showcases of our world-leading creative, advanced engineering, healthcare, life sciences, and education industries. To these we must add financial and professional services. The City of London Corporation held an event with London and Partners, promoting financial services to overseas investors. After uniting behind our athletes as a nation, we must use this opportunity to unite behind British business.
I am also continuing to highlight the importance of the City across the country, and last week spent some time meeting business and political leaders in Edinburgh.
Edinburgh and London share many of the same advantages – from our time zone and talent pool, to our solid infrastructure and supportive regulatory framework. The financial services sector in Scotland is as vibrant as it is varied. Everyone I met – in business and politics alike – knows how important it is in growing the wider economy.
In some sectors, Edinburgh and London are in direct and healthy competition. But knowing where we can combine our strengths, for the greater good of the economy, is where we should aim our focus.
The UK is home to many top world class businesses, all with the common denominators of committed, talented staff, high-quality products with good penetration in our export markets, and few problems accessing funding.
If these businesses are to thrive, grow and continue to create more jobs and growth for the UK, our financial services sector has to remain strong. Only a sophisticated and globally-connected financial services sector is capable of delivering the depth and breadth of financing that British business needs.
Team GB struck gold at London 2012. Now we need to capitalise on their fantastic achievements and the profile they have given us, by creating jobs, growth and prosperity right across all sectors of the economy.
David Wootton is lord mayor of the City of London.