Behind the political rhetoric there is real work to do. Big beasts like Vince Cable, Lord Mandelson and Ken Clarke have been in the City eye over the last weeks as we took a team to each of the party conferences to find out what they are really thinking.<br /><br />In a time of anonymous public servants and increasing political disengagement, these are three names that members of the public will instantly recognise. And they had plenty to say about financial services.<br /><br />Each sat on a panel at our conference fringe events under the banner “Delivering Economic Recovery: the role of financial services”.<br /><br />Their presence ensured all three meetings were standing room only. And unlike the camera-dominated set pieces of the main hall, their fringe speeches provided an opportunity to talk frankly about City issues. <br /><br />All three of our guest speakers went to great lengths to acknowledge the value of the UK financial services industry and the vital contribution it continues to make to our economy. Not one of them talked about it being ‘socially useless’.<br /><br />We travelled to Bournemouth, Brighton and Manchester to make a simple point: yes, major mistakes have been made, but we cannot afford to continue deriding an industry in which the UK is a world leader.<br /><br />I told the policy gurus and activists that we need to create a world-class business environment with a regulatory structure that protects financial institutions, shareholders and, ultimately, the taxpayer from systemic risk.<br /><br />Companies based in London have to compete in global markets – this means allowing firms to reward success through the provision of bonuses and guarding against tax rises that restrict our ability to attract the world’s leading talent to live and work in the UK. <br /><br />And as for doubts about a need for Crossrail: I made the case that in the longer-term we also need an infrastructure worthy of such a world-class business environment. <br /><br />Of course there is still a great deal of public anger towards the financial services industry and in the run-up to a General Election, politicians have to be seen to be tough on this issue. Newspapers will continue to rail against Bankers and their Bonuses. <br /><br />But away from the media spotlight, politicians are engaged in substantive ‘where-next?’ debate upon which the UK’s long-term economic stability and London’s continuing reputation for excellence depend.<br /><br />If politicians, helped by insights from the industry, get it right, financial services will play a pivotal role in delivering the economic recovery and London will continue to be a leading centre for global finance for many years to come. <br /><br />If they get it wrong…<br /><br />Stuart Fraser, Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee at the City of London Corporation.