New report: Greater understanding of financial and professional services essential to boost SME exports

A new report by EY and the City of London Corporation published today sets out how that financial and professional services (FPS) sector facilitates businesses of all sizes and across all sectors in the UK to trade internationally – and steps needed to deliver a more holistic approach to UK trade policy.

The report - ‘The City of London: An ecosystem enabling international trade’ -  demonstrates how the UK’s FPS ecosystem supports internationally exporting firms through a focus on three specific sub-sectors: legal services, trade finance and maritime services.

The report concludes by setting out a series of practical policy recommendations which, if enacted, could be crucial in helping the UK to realise the opportunities and rise to the challenges posed by the UK’s new and uncertain place in the global trade economy. These recommendations are grouped in three themes:

Maximising new opportunities:

  • Enhancing the UK FPS sector’s capacity to support non-FPS firms trade internationally will require a holistic approach to trade policymaking which considers trade in services and trade in goods as interdependent. The UK’s trade policy formation architecture and resourcing should reflect this need.
  • UK policymakers should complement these efforts with a focus on helping firms develop both an ‘international mindset’ and an ‘international skillset’.

Preserving what works:

  • Firms thrive on certainty. The UK should take a long-term view to any regulatory changes and take concrete steps to protect elements of the ecosystem perceived to be at risk, for example the primacy of English law.

Addressing perception gaps:

  • The UK Government should focus on championing the value of services with non-FPS firms. Trade promotional efforts should aim at demystifying elements of the FPS ecosystem which would directly benefit exporters, especially for SMEs.

City of London Corporation’s Policy Chair, Catherine McGuinness said:

“A greater understanding of the tools that FPS can offer is essential to help goods exporters – especially SMEs - to tap into new international markets, and thus to grow and drive our economic recovery.

“This report therefore calls for the adoption of a more holistic trade policy approach across goods and services, and explores ways in which the UK policymakers can make FPS more accessible for exporters.

“As the UK embarks upon this new chapter in its trading history, this is a key strategy for how we leverage our world-leading FPS sector, ensuring that we make the most of emerging trade opportunities around the world.”

EY’s Trade Strategy and Brexit Leader, Sally Jones, said:

“This research demonstrates the vital role financial professional services (FPS) firms play in enabling and supporting UK businesses to trade internationally - something that FPS firms are doing up and down the UK every single day.

“As the UK is in the process of forging its independent trade policy, the future role the FPS sector in strengthening the UK’s position as a leading global trading nation should not be underestimated or ignored.

“Encouraging government, professional bodies and FPS firms to work together to support UK export success presents a real opportunity for the UK to lead the global discussion on the role of services trade and be at the centre of future trading rules.”

The report will be launched on 24 February at 4pm with a keynote address by UK Minister of State for International Trade Policy, Hon. Greg Hands MP. And a panel discussion with Catherine McGuinness (Policy Chair, City of London Corporation), Andy Burwell (International Director, CBI), Martin McTague (Chairman, FSB) and moderated by Sally Jones (Trade Strategy Partner, EY).

Notes to editors

The report can be found here: https://www.theglobalcity.uk/resources/ecosystem-international-trade


Joe Dibben – email: joe.dibben@cityoflondon.gov.uk telephone: +44 710860886

Adam Holden – email: aholden@uk.ey.com telephone: +44 121 535 2128

About the City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is the governing body of the Square Mile dedicated to a vibrant and thriving City, supporting a diverse and sustainable London within a globally-successful UK. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk

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