Barclays boss in new rallying cry
THE head of an influential lobbying group has issued a rallying cry for business leaders and politicians to use Britain’s exit from the European Union as a springboard to bolstering its status as a financial services powerhouse.
John McFarlane, chairman of TheCityUK, said a “cool head and firm leadership” were required not just to take whatever urgent action is required to counter “unnecessary” risk to heavyweight sectors such as banking and insurance, but also to plan for long-term prosperity.
The group is understood to have drawn up a list of demands for politicians including removing red tape and a publicity drive to reinforce the pre-eminent position of the UK as a financial centre outside the EU.
McFarlane, who also chairs Barclays, said: “While all futures are uncertain, uncertainty itself is the single most important enemy of business, and this can only be overcome with greater certainty of direction and progress in execution.”
TheCityUK and management consultants McKinsey will produce a strategic paper later this year setting out the attractiveness of the UK’s financial and professional services sector, with a set of recommendations to reinforce the UK’s competitive advantage.
McFarlane said: “In the meantime, we are focusing on preserving our current position, particularly London’s role as the time zone’s financial centre.
“This will require clarity on the process of leaving the EU, the future relationship with the EU, and new initiatives to increase trade and investment globally and the role of the regions of the UK, particularly Scotland and Northern Ireland.”
He acknowledged that aside from uncertainty over Britain’s relationship with the EU, businesses also needed to address “radical changes” from low or negative interest rates and rapid technological change.
He said: “It is therefore time for all hands on the pump to contain risks and stimulate the economy to boost business.
“It is also time for careful thought, but also for decisiveness on matters that constrain progress and others that can accelerate the way forward.
“A great deal of bureaucracy and regulation, some necessary but a great deal not, has been added following the global financial crisis. While the policy environment is appropriately biased on soundness and safety, we also need to strengthen the capacity to support growth and jobs. This balance has yet to be found.”