The new prime minister must push through a swathe of reforms to the City if the UK is to regain its place as the “world’s foremost international centre of finance”, business groups have warned today.
In a new manifesto for the incoming prime minister, advocacy group TheCityUK said the two Tory leadership contenders Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss needed to outline a vision for financial reform and be prepared to work with industry upon taking office.
Delivering the Financial Services and Markets Bill as soon as possible and scrapping EU-era Solvency II legislation to unleash a wave of UK infrastructure investment should be among the measures at the top of the agenda for the incoming prime minister, the group said, alongside reforming the UK’s capital markets regime.
“The financial services and related professional services industry is a British success story – but we can do more,” theCityUK chief Miles Celic said in the manifesto.
“As we reach the final weeks of the leadership elections, we hope the candidates consider the role we can play in supporting their economic agendas and help regain our role as the world’s foremost international centre of finance.”
London’s business groups backed the calls for reform today, with London Chamber of Commerce saying it was “critical” that Government ensures the City remains competitive cities like New York, Tokyo, and Singapore.
“If London’s financial services cannot thrive, the whole of the UK economy will lose out,” Richard Burge, chamber chief, told City A.M.
The warnings come as ministers look to deliver a second “big bang” for UK financial services with the long-awaited Financial Services and Markets Bill announced last month.
London Stock Exchange chiefs and the government have also been looking to boost the standing of London as a hub for international listings, with two major reviews of the capital markets ecosystem – the Hill Review and Austin Review – designed to tempt international firms to float in the capital.
In July, Freshfields partner Mark Austin unveiled a batch of proposed changes to ease the way that listed firms can raise cash in London.
Speaking to City A.M. today he said the UK needed to be “bold and brave” in its reform to ensure that the UK capital markets stay “as relevant on the global stage in the next two decades as they have been in the past two decades and further back. ”
“The opportunity is big and is to become even more relevant. With all our natural historical, language and time zone advantages, amongst other things, we have the opportunity to be the world’s leading independent, neutral, stable financial venue,” he said.
Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss were contacted for comment.