Monday marked one of the biggest days in the year for the Chancellor – the Mansion House speech. We should be proud that London is the world’s second largest financial centre, and that our financial and professional services industry employs over 2.5 million people, including many in South West Surrey.
The sector is so important to our economy that it pays for half the cost of running the NHS.
However, currently we have a problem which means our innovative companies find it too difficult to get the money they need to grow.
The prime minister and I want the UK to be the world’s next Silicon Valley, as I have written in this column before, so we have to make sure our financial services sector supports our innovative businesses by allowing them to raise funds and grow right here in the UK.
My speech set out how we plan to do that.
I started by focusing on pensions. We have the largest pensions market in Europe, worth over £2.5 trillion. But UK investors do not currently invest as much in British companies as international investors.
Australian ‘defined contribution’ pension schemes invest ten times more in private markets than UK ones.
So the Lord Mayor and I signed the Mansion House Compact with the CEOs of our largest DC pension schemes, representing two-thirds of the UK’s workplace market, committing them to allocating at least five per cent of their funds to high growth companies by 2030.
Alongside other announcements I made, this could unlock an additional £75 billion of financing for our most promising companies by 2030.
Pension fund holders benefit too: these reforms could boost a typical pension by 12 per cent over a career for someone who starts saving at 18 – more than £1,000 more per year in retirement.
I also spoke about stock market listings.
We have the largest stock market in Europe and in 2021 we attracted the most global IPOs of any stock market outside the US.
But between 1997 and 2019 there was a 44 per cent decline in the number of domestic listed companies in the UK.
Though this is part of a wider trend across western markets, with the US and France seeing even steeper falls in that period, I want the world’s fastest-growing companies to grow and list right here in the UK and be the ‘global capital for capital.’
I therefore announced the government will be making several reforms to address this. One which will be up and running by the end of 2024 is a new ‘intermittent trading venue’ which will mean private companies have better access to capital markets before they publicly list.
Finally, behind all of this is the financial services sector which must be supported by regulators.
One Brexit benefit is we have the autonomy to tailor our regulations to focus on growth and competitiveness for our most high-growth sectors, which is what the Financial Services and Markets Act that we passed last month focuses on.
At the same time, I signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen our new relationship with Europe in financial services.
We are also laying new legislation to give regulators the powers they need to reform rules on innovative payments and fintech services.
Overall, these reforms may seem technical, but they mean there will be more funding available for our high-growth and innovative companies as well as more money for savers.
Most importantly they will help our economy break out of the low growth trap that most advanced countries have fallen into by making us stronger in the industries that will grow the fastest in the decades ahead.
Given we have many companies in those sectors locally, that will be good news for Surrey too.