In the past 12 months, the city has faced two challenges related to Britain’s exit from the European Union and the pandemic.
Despite these challenges, the financial and professional services sector has shown remarkable resilience while playing a key role in supporting other sectors of the economy.
We cannot afford to be complacent, however. As City Week returns today for its 11th year, with the online summit focused on funding a sustainable global recovery, we must not only celebrate the industry’s response, but also build on our core strengths.
Urban businesses have shown resilience in keeping markets open, flexibility in moving to remote working, and innovation in using technology to support the economy at large.
It is for these reasons that we can be confident in the future of the City in the years to come and in the strength of our global competitiveness.
This does not mean that we can rest on our laurels, far from it.
Earlier this year, we launched a report, The Square Mile: Future City, which includes a five-year plan to ensure the city is the world’s most innovative, inclusive and sustainable business ecosystem, and a place attractive to invest, work, live, learn and visit.
A key part of this is nurturing our small business community, with fintech being an area of particular focus. Last year, the UK sector attracted some $ 4.1 billion in investment, the second highest in the world. The recent Kalifa review, which the City Corporation has supported, provides a vision to develop this even further, and we will work with government and stakeholders to advance its important recommendations.
Another strength of London is our openness, particularly with regard to our regulatory regime. After our departure from the EU, the UK has the opportunity to look at ways to improve regulation and adapt it to our market, and the International Regulatory Strategy Group, which the City Corporation supports alongside from TheCityUK, examines exactly that. Its report, due for release next month, will describe how, through minor improvements, the UK’s access regimes can be improved, thereby improving its navigability and transparency.
The elephant in the room is of course climate change, and again, the City Corporation is working hard to bring the city to the forefront in this area.
Alongside the Green Finance Institute, we are co-hosting a Green Horizon Hybrid Summit at COP26 in November, focused on how to mobilize public and private funding for the transition to a net zero economy. We are also excited to continue working with the Financial Conduct Authority on Phase Two of the Digital Sandbox, this time focusing on the role of technology in tackling the challenges of climate change.
We know that the government’s decision last week to delay ending the Covid restrictions would have been deeply disappointing news for many businesses and workers in the city hoping to return to office.
While we must be guided by the data, we also urge policymakers to closely monitor the decision, based on the evidence, so that the capital can once again become a vibrant and prosperous hub as soon as possible.
In the meantime, I, for one, look forward to hearing the thoughts of speakers throughout City Week, and I hope that next year we can host the event at Guildhall again.