Policy Chairman: ‘UK must remain an investment opportunity’

Chris Hayward, Policy Chairman of the City of London Corporation, opens this year’s Margaret Thatcher Conference which is hosted by Centre for Policy Studies in the Great Hall, Guildhall.

Speaking to an audience made up of senior Government ministers, academics and leading business figures from the financial and professional services industry, the Policy Chairman will highlight why the UK must remain an investment opportunity and what ‘opportunity’ looks like to the financial services sector.

An extract from the Policy Chairman’s speech is found below. Please check against delivery.

“I believe their choice of topic this year – that of ‘Opportunity’ – is a perfect choice for the UK right now. Margaret Thatcher herself was rigorously focused on the idea of opportunity. It’s a belief – an ideal – which we in the City of London strive to uphold.

“The UK’s financial and professional services is a sector which spreads opportunity throughout the UK. It helps people achieve what they’ve always wanted through credit and mortgage. It helps businesses to grow through loans and support schemes and, importantly, it helps our broader economy, employing over 2.5 million – that’s almost eight percent of total UK employment – with two thirds of jobs based outside London.

“I am very fortunate enough in my position to regularly visit our financial and professional services sector leaders in cities like Bristol, Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and Leeds and so many centres of excellence. It is thanks to their expertise and innovation that so many different international economies import their services, which totalled nearly £130bn in 2020, roughly equivalent to 4% of the UK’s GDP.

“We saw from the EY report last week that the UK continues to be Europe’s most attractive location for foreign direct investment in financial services and while France and other European countries see a fall in investment projects, the UK attracted 76 financial services projects last year – an increase of 13 projects from 2021.

“What’s crucial for the City of London Corporation is that we continue to create the right circumstances for investment. We are championing our investment management sector – which oversees 14% of worldwide assets under management – through our Global Investment Futures campaign.

“There has never been a bigger opportunity to build on our UK-wide strengths and to go even further and redefine British business. We have seen this ambition from Government, especially in the financial and professional services sector – and their Edinburgh Reforms and the Financial Services and Markets Bill are welcome.

“But we know that we can go further – allowing business to take the opportunities in these reforms bring and create real and long-lasting change to the sector. It is this change that is at the heart of our Finance for Growth programme.

“It’s a roadmap to reinforce and renew the UK's role as a global financial hub – the first comprehensive industry-wide review that encompasses all aspects of UK financial services.

“This is not a project aimed at tinkering around the edges or minor adjustments. We want to see real positive change, focused on tech, innovation and sustainable finance which will help create a more competitive UK marketplace and influence our international policy.

“Our aim is for our financial and professional services sector to be the best-in-class, driving UK firms forward, creating the wealth, jobs and – yes – opportunities that support the whole economy.

“If we see an opportunity, we take it; if we don’t see an opportunity, we make one.”