Access to skills 'A priority for Europe's financial sector'

Continued, mutual access to talented workers across Europe was a priority for the continent's financial sector after Brexit, an international conference in Vilnius has been told by a City business leader.

Group of business people planning
Miles Celic, CEO of the financial sector lobby group TheCityUK, told the seventh International Financial Markets Conference that other priorities included delivering a Brexit withdrawal agreement that would provide a legally-binding transition, and agreeing on a bespoke future relationship agreement that delivered the best possible, mutual market access."And, as we prepare for any eventuality, the resolution of technical cliff-edge issues, such as contract continuity, which should not be caught up with the wider Brexit negotiations," Mr Celic said.

Final Brexit arrangement must work for all parts of the industry

"Different parts of the industry ecosystem will have specific needs and requirements from the Brexit negotiations, but the final arrangement will need to work for all parts of the industry and its clients and customers."In particular, it is important to have continued mutual access to corporate and wholesale financial services and capital markets, where cost savings and efficiencies benefit both UK and EU businesses, consumers and economies. This agreement should be as ambitious and should include the ability for expansion of that ambition in the future." On the structure of future cooperation between the UK and EU, Mr Celic pointed out that British regulators already worked closely with counterparts in the US, Asia and many other jurisdictions."I fully hope and expect that in the future there will continue to be an open and collaborative relationship between British regulators and their European colleagues," he said.

Future relationship crucial for financial stability

"This is a relationship that is critically important if we are to continue to help promote financial stability, avoid regulatory arbitrage and duplication, help to efficiently mitigate and manage risk and to support economic growth in both the EU and UK."Mr Celic pointed out that FinTech had been the dominant high growth area for financial services over the past decade, with the sector in the UK continuing, "to go from strength to strength".But, he added: "International competitors are fast on our heels, particularly in the South Asian markets where, for example, Singapore is seen as highly innovation-friendly and as having a supportive regulator."If we in Europe are to succeed, we must play to our natural strengths. In the UK we have shifted from a focus on disruption to one on collaboration between established players and FinTechs. This recognises that the growth of UK FinTech is in part due to the encouraging regulatory environment and consumers’ widespread digital adoption – factors we also see here in Lithuania.

A pipeline of talent

"A pipeline of talent is paramount to enabling financial services firms to embed and utilise FinTech innovations."Mr Celic pointed to a report by TheCityUK that highlighted the fact that this talent pipeline required both individuals with deep technical skills – such as coding, AI and augmented reality - and a wider workforce that had the technical literacy to understand and rely upon FinTech-based platforms and processes."Securing access to these skills is not guaranteed and the financial services sector must realise that it is, and will continue to be, competing against many other industries and sectors for the same tech talent. Some of these other industries have historically had more formal arrangements in place with universities to secure their future recruitment," he said."It also means being willing to change culturally by being more diverse, particularly in recruitment, and casting a wider net, with a specific strategy for attracting talent from other sectors."And last, but certainly not least, it means proactively trying to tackle the gender imbalance which exists at the school and university level by establishing in-house diversity initiatives or supporting ongoing schemes, recognising that diversity is not just about gender."
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