What will the Square Mile look like in five years’ time? Unfortunately, I do not possess a crystal ball but – as I start my term as Policy Chairman at the City of London Corporation – I do know that we are facing a critical inflection point after a period of unprecedented economic turbulence and political upheaval.
Brexit, the pandemic and now war in Ukraine have all posed unique tests for London and the UK. City businesses, workers and residents are grappling with high inflation and soaring energy bills while also trying to tackle climate change.
This is a challenging economic outlook and geopolitical landscape – but I am confident that by working together the City will once again reinvent itself to remain the vibrant destination of choice.
This matters because the City is an asset to London, the UK and the world. It creates jobs, drives investment and supports trade for the benefit of communities both domestically and overseas.
As Policy Chairman, I want to stand up for the City to ensure it is globally competitive and engaged locally. In other words I want to ensure that the City is the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem as well as an attractive place to invest, work, live, learn and visit.
To deliver this vision it is vital to reinforce London’s position as the global financial and professional services capital of the world, especially when it comes to technological innovation.
To give one example, the fintech sector’s contribution to our economy is expected to almost double to £13.7bn by 2030, with job creation contributing to 70 per cent of this rise.
We need to ensure that the UK encourages this innovation and entrepreneurialism in order to power our economic recovery forward.
Secondly, we must lead the way when it comes to the fight against climate change. ESG is at the top of the agenda of boardrooms across the City but this now needs to translate into tangible action.
Later this week we will be hosting the Net Zero Delivery Summit to bring together international leaders from business, politics and public policy to mobilise the private capital needed to ensure a just transition to net zero. This is particularly timely in light of the current challenges posed to energy security and supply by the war in Ukraine.
Thirdly, in order for business to thrive we must make sure that the City is a place that is vibrant, fun and inclusive.
During the pandemic our streets fell quiet as people were forced to work from home. Thankfully that is no longer the case but we must make a compelling case to encourage people to work, visit and play in the Square Mile as flexible and hybrid patterns of working evolve. I will be announcing a range of measures later this month to boost the appeal of the City’s offer and make sure we are the destination of choice.
At the start of my predecessor’s term, a global pandemic and war in Europe would have seemed like remote possibilities. Other unexpected trials are likely to emerge over the course of the next five years.
Nonetheless, I firmly believe that a vibrant and thriving Square Mile will rise to these challenges and remain at the heart of a globally-successful United Kingdom.