Financial services demand easier mobility rules

The UK's leading trade organisation for financial and related professional services is calling for a government overhaul of visa rules to make it easier for firms to access the overseas talent they need.

Financial services demand easier mobility rules
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Research by TheCityUK found that the current short-term business mobility rules are limiting organisations’ ability to leverage their global talent networks to support exports and innovation."They are also hampering the UK’s ability to remain an attractive hub for international investment," Nicola Watkinson, international managing director at TheCityUK. "Ultimately, the UK system needs to be more dynamic for fast-track, short-term working visas."   

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The organisation's research paper, ‘How to Strengthen the UK’s Short-Term Mobility System’, highlighted the fact that businesses listed problems limiting access to global talent as one of the top three issues impacting their ability to grow and innovate.Currently, some five per cent of workers in UK financial services are from overseas, the figure rising to 42 percent in FinTech."Skilled, multinational, and multilingual workers are key to the success of the UK as an international financial centre and to promote innovation," said Ms Watkinson."The government’s commitment in the Spring Budget to simplify rules for business personnel visiting the UK was a positive initial step to support greater business mobility...but there is still much more to be done."The organisation is calling on the government to make further changes in the the Autumn Statement "to address remaining barriers and position the UK for future growth".One of the proposals is for greater clarity around permitted, visa-free activities. Ms Watkinson said the UK has made international commitments to allow the short-term entry of certain business personnel."The government has committed to expanding the range of short-term business activities that are allowed without a visa and reviewing the list of permitted paid engagements," she added."The industry has emphasised its preference for a positive list approach - where all permitted activities are explicitly listed - to reduce ambiguity and highlight compliance."The organisation is also calling for a new hybrid, short-term global mobility stream by reforming the current system of intra-company transfers.Ms Watkinson said the UK would gain significant competitive advantage if it implemented changes to the new Global Business Mobility Route."Industry recommends that businesses that have a Senior or Specialist Worker sponsor licence with the Home Office be allowed to support overseas employees to enter the UK for short-term productive activity without a work visa, combining the controls associated with sponsorship with the flexibility of visa-free entry."The organisation said that businesses have stressed this would complement the extensive work they already do to train and develop local talent. "Short-term business workers do not become UK-based workers and do not compete with domestic talent: they carry out short, targeted projects before returning home."Ms Watkinson concluded: "These small but important policy adjustments to the UK government’s mobility policy would go a long way to helping businesses access the high-skilled talent they need to grow and compete globally."This in turn drives wider economic prosperity, helping businesses to invest in all sectors across the country, and achieve their growth ambitions."

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