Alastair Darling to co-chair group with Citi chairman

The Chancellor is to lead a new working group focused on ensuring that London maintains its place as a world leading financial services centre.

Alastair Darling will jointly chair the group with Citi chairman, Sir Win Bischoff.

The Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group will report directly to the High Level Group on City Competitiveness, which was set up by the Government in 2006 to develop and support a strategy for promoting London as a world-leading financial centre.

The group will comprise senior representatives from the financial services sector and will meet monthly to analyse global trends affecting the competitiveness of the international financial services industry, such as the impact of the sub-prime crisis and the rapid growth of new financial centres in emerging markets.

The group's analysis will help to inform the Government's policy response to these global challenges. It will report back to the High Level Group in Spring 2009.

Darling said: "The financial services sector provides more than a million jobs in the UK and accounts for over 10 per cent of GDP. It is vital it can respond to the rapidly changing nature of international financial markets, with major shifts in financial flows and players to growing centres of influence and new sources of profit."

"I have asked Sir Win to lead an assessment of these global trends, and on their impact on financial centres over a 10-15 year horizon, to help London and the UK maintain and enhance its leading place in the world's financial markets."

Sir Win said: "I am honoured to have been asked by the Chancellor to lead the work of the Financial Services Global Competitiveness Group with him. The timing is right, as the financial landscape is changing around the world and we must make sure that world-class centres like London participate and benefit from this trend. I intend to report back with a range of issues for consideration on what is needed to maintain and enhance these centres' competitiveness."

In addition to the Financial Services Global Competitiveness group, the Chancellor has also announced:

  • The creation of a Professional Services Industry group - jointly chaired by Sir Michael Snyder and Economic Secretary to the Treasury Kitty Ussher - to look at the medium-term challenges in a sector for which the UK is a leading centre, covering legal services, accountancy, management consultancy and other services.
  • A working party to review the efficiency of the UK's capital raising process - jointly Chaired by FSA Chief Executive Hector Sants and Economic Secretary Kitty Ussher. This will examine current market practices concerning equity capital raising by public companies, and report on whether changes are needed to UK company law, market practices or regulatory requirements to make equity capital raising more efficient and orderly.

In addition to these groups, which will consider issues directly related to the UK's competitiveness, the Chancellor intends to announce details of two new standing groups shortly, to focus on live topics related to the UK-based wholesale financial services industry and the insurance sector. This is a continuation of the Treasury's efforts to strengthen its engagement with individual sectors in the UK financial services industry.