The City needs a new Big Bang

The Week Middle East - - City -

Iain Martin

The Times “Bri­tain has never loved the City,” says Iain Martin. So it was no great sur­prise that – when the Bri­tish Bankers’ As­so­ci­a­tion warned that, af­ter the Brexit vote, sev­eral large in­ter­na­tional banks had their fin­gers hov­er­ing over the “re­lo­cate but­ton” – the re­ac­tion of many tax­pay­ers was to of­fer them “a lift to the air­port”. Yet we should be care­ful what we wish for. “For all its foibles, flaws and in­ter­mit­tent law-break­ing”, the City has be­come “a genuine global suc­cess story” since the Big Bang shake-up in the 1980s. It “pro­vides a great deal of em­ploy­ment and pays a lot of tax”. And it’s now on the cusp of an­other trans­for­ma­tion. As a leader of the emerg­ing “Fin­Tech move­ment”, London is well placed to profit from the dig­i­tal revo­lu­tion in elec­tronic cur­ren­cies and plat­forms now shak­ing the sta­tus quo in the fi­nance in­dus­try – pro­vided “we do not reg­u­late the place to death”. What­ever deal is done with the EU, it is cru­cial that Bri­tain con­tin­ues to ben­e­fit from “the City’s gift for rein­ven­tion”. The key is open­ness, in­no­va­tion – and al­low­ing for­eign money and ex­per­tise in.

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