London has the benefits of proximity to Europe, the English language and the common law. But to keep business investment coming to our shores, we need to push ahead with new reforms, writes Andrew Griffith
Is the UK the best place in the world for business? Absolutely.
For over 400 years, the UK has pioneered developments across financial services, benefiting businesses, consumers and the country at large. And London, as first among equals, has been the beating heart of dynamism, driving us all towards growth and prosperity.
We are a magnet for capital and talent. We’ve got some of the best theatres and museums the world has to offer. We claim seven of the 20 Premier League sides and 18 of the UK’s top universities.
We’re just a short train journey from the European continent. But we also have more daily flights to the US than any other country. No other country on earth combines a seat on the Permanent Council of the UN with membership of Nato, a trade deal with the EU, accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership and being a founder member of the Commonwealth. More than any other nation, being open and looking outwards for opportunities is second nature to us Brits.
Then there’s our rich heritage. The City of London was established a few years after the Roman invasion and our exchanges and insurance markets are older than many countries.
Since then, we’ve become one of the world’s pre-eminent financial hubs in part because of our English language, our melting pot of skilled international workers, our fortuitous time zone, our common law legal system and our respected independent institutions. Even in a competitive world, none of these are transient.
At the end of last year, we announced ambitions to reform some of our financial services regulations – the ‘Edinburgh Reforms’. These reforms will benefit the whole of the UK, not just the City. This is not about stripping away sensible protections. But it is about moving towards proportionate and simpler regulation that works for the UK and will help drive growth across the broader economy, supporting families and businesses up and down the country.
And this includes the strides we are taking to improve how companies can raise capital in the UK, by simplifying the hurdles to list on our stock exchanges and ensuring more people can have a share in the growth of these companies.
Any talk of diluting these reforms is to misunderstand them. They are here to stay, because they will actually improve the resilience of our financial system by stripping away the bits that hold us back and allow the sector and regulators alike to focus on the big stuff that matters.
Change always has its detractors. Some have simply been too comfortable as rule-takers in an era of cheap money and are finding it hard to adjust. The environment we are working in has changed dramatically over the last six months, and as businesses reshape their plans for the future, so should our vision of how we want our capital to look.
There is a generation of current and future City leaders who are hungry to see these changes made, to feel the competitive benefits for the UK and who recognise the imperative of economic growth after the costs of Covid and the war in Ukraine.
For them – and for all of us – as we go through the process of reforming our financial services sector there could be no better time than the present and no better place than London.