London is still one-of-a-kind for finance

As people across the City head off on their travels over the summer holidays, there is no better time to reflect on the exciting opportunities for the UK across the globe as our future trading relationship comes into sharp focus. 

I have already been fortunate enough in my role as the 691st lord mayor of London to champion the UK’s financial services sector in more than 15 countries. 

Across these diverse markets, it’s been clear that the fundamental strengths of London continue to resonate. From Toronto to Tallinn, Sao Paulo to Singapore, the same themes come up again and again whenever I speak to politicians, regulators, and businesses all over the world.

They see London as the city that offers the world a unique combination of time zone, language, legal system, global talent, and financial services ecosystem which makes us truly a gateway to global capital and advice. Indeed, 40 per cent of the City’s workforce were born outside of the UK, and it is essential that we maintain that pipeline to global talent in the years ahead.

They also see us as a hub for innovation and at the centre of the drive towards greening the global financial system – and they’re right. 

We’re home to more than a tenth of the world’s fintech industry, with more venture capital investment into the sector than anywhere else in Europe. 

There are around 1,000 new startups each year in the City, and we could soon overtake even San Francisco as the home to most fintech “unicorn” companies, with the likes of Revolut, TransferWise, and OakNorth leading the way. 

Meanwhile, the recently launched Green Finance Institute is already providing leadership in this nascent sector. I have seen for myself how partners from around the world are eager to work with London to progress in the green finance space, whether that be in order to build sustainable energy infrastructure in Colombia or to work with China on building green principles for the Belt and Road Initiative.

Peter Estlin