Roadmap published for UK financial services

Financial services lobby group, TheCityUK, has published a comprehensive 'roadmap' aimed at ensuring the sector's future in a post-pandemic and post-Brexit world.

The plan for the coming decade, 'A Roadmap for Economic Recovery', is aimed at putting the UK "at the heart of the global digital economy" and identifies trade protectionism and regional disparities as critical challenges.Among many proposals, the report emphasises of focusing on talent, mobility and data. This, says the report, must be achieved "through the development and retention of domestic talent, securing access to international talent, recognition of professional qualifications and cross-border flow of data".TheCityUK also stressed that the financial and related professional services sector was committed to harnessing its power to drive technological transformation, tackle climate change and help create powerful regional hubs.Miles Celic, chief executive of the organisation, said: "Throughout this pandemic, our industry has been a shock absorber, giving people and businesses help and support to endure the economic impact of Covid-19. As we move to the next phase of rebuilding and growth, our industry also has a key role to play as an engine for the recovery."The UK must be bold and decisive in the months ahead to ensure that we seize the opportunities of recovery and avoid the obstacles that may slow us down. We will carry forward this agenda in the months ahead, working together with government and regulators to achieve our ambitions."Challenges identified in the report the international slide towards protectionism; regional disparity of wealth, investment and opportunity; the need for greater diversity; climate change; and technological transformation.The report recommends a range of actions including:- An appeal to government to put digital trade in services at the heart of ambitious Free Trade Agreements – working with like-minded trade partners to create a gold standard of digital trade chapters that cater for technology-enhanced services businesses, limit data localisation, and help position the UK globally as a critical digital trade hub.- Strengthening regional connections by levelling-up regional digital, and wider, infrastructure – creating new dedicated forums for the industry to support the delivery of local industrial strategies; consulting on how to release capital held by insurers to invest in real economy assets and infrastructure; and creating a dedicated government taskforce for UK regions and nations to unlock regional economic data and embed regional expertise within government.- Unlocking and turbocharging the potential of SMEs – using the UK’s regulatory independence to remove the barriers currently preventing SMEs from raising capital; prioritising the development of digital identity infrastructure, which could add three per cent to GDP and support the UK’s position as a market-leading digital economy.Publication of the report coincided with a survey showing that financial services firms were regaining confidence in the economy at the fastest pace in more than seven years.The survey, compiled by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and PwC, showed that although business volumes had stalled because of the pandemic, companies believed that the rollout of the vaccination programme would help to rejuvenate the economy this summer.Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the CBI, said: “It’s encouraging that financial services firms are feeling optimistic about the months ahead, likely warmed by the prospect of a phased reopening of the economy. This is clearly driving expectations of a strong rebound in business volumes and profits over the second quarter.”

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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