We can not continue deriding financial services

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