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London Continues to Lead in Financial and Professional Services

Lord Mayor William Russell discusses the future of London as a global financial centre.

March 2021

The future of London as a global financial centre has been called into question by some due to the twin challenges of starting a new trading chapter and tackling a damaging pandemic.

It is welcome, therefore, that a new report shows London continues to lead the world when it comes to financial and professional services.

The research by the City of London Corporation shows how London and the UK compare with other financial centres taking a total of 91 different metrics into account. London came out ahead of New York, Singapore, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and Tokyo.

One of the principle reasons for this success is London’s ability to innovate. With a globally connected market, skilled talent, and regulatory and government support, the UK is the only global financial centre that offers a ‘full-package’ innovative ecosystem. 

London is also at the forefront when it comes to business infrastructure and operational resilience. Unrivalled global connections and the UK’s strong cybersecurity framework and digital security measures means businesses can operate with confidence.

It is little surprise then, that London remains Europe’s destination for investment in financial services. In 2019, the UK’s net financial services exports were higher than the value of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Germany’s combined.

This means the sector contributed a record £75.6bn in tax in the year to March 2020.

However, whilst these findings demonstrate that the UK continues to lead the world when it comes to financial and professional services, it is important not to be complacent. To remain competitive, the UK must address several key challenges. 

Firstly, we need to invest in infrastructure and skills across the country and ensure our regulatory framework continues to stay abreast of technological change and innovation. The UK needs to close skill gaps in London and across the country, provide skilled international talent with a pathway into UK-based firms, and re-build London’s attractiveness as a metropolis post-COVID.

With global challenges at the horizon, the UK’s government must regain its perception of being predictable, stable, and strategic.

This will reinforce businesses’ confidence that the UK is a market worth investing in.

As we take over the G7 presidency and prepare for the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, the UK will have a major opportunity to show global leadership. The financial and professional sector will be the lynchpin for all other sectors – indeed, the whole world – to turn green. Ensuring London remains one of the best places in the world to do business is paramount to securing a bright future for the UK, as we enter a new era.

William Russell is Lord Mayor of the City of London