Ease rules to make London more competitive, industry officials say

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: General view of London

By Huw Jones and Carolyn Cohn

LONDON (Reuters) - Rules are becoming more flexible for financial firms after Brexit but more needs to be done to cut red tape and keep London globally competitive, senior industry officials said on Tuesday.

Following its departure from the European Union, Britain faces industry and lawmaker calls to ease some of the tighter regulations introduced after the global financial crisis over a decade ago.

Britain has held over 30 public consultations on market reforms and has already eased listing rules.

"The pendulum is swinging back in the right way," Bruce Carnegie-Brown, chairman of the Lloyd's of London insurance market, told the annual CityWeek event.

He welcomed the finance ministry's intention to give regulators an objective to keep London globally competitive, but added that checks were needed to measure progress to get a better balance between risk and return on investment.

Last year Lloyd's had 200 separate meetings with its regulator at the Bank of England, Carnegie-Brown said.

"Really? Were those meetings productive and useful, were they a good use of people's time, what did they achieve? So the proportionality of this needs to be reviewed," he said.

London has largely held its own since Brexit, still second only to New York as a global financial centre, with the exodus of jobs to EU hubs far lower than initially feared, but industry wants faster reforms.

The City of London, which administers the capital's financial district, said on Tuesday the capital continues to hold the top spot in attracting the number of inward investment projects in financial and professional services.

It attracted 114 projects last year, worth 1.1 billion pounds ($1.4 billion), second only to the United States in monetary terms.

Beatriz Martin Jimenez, group treasurer at UBS bank, said diverging from EU rules could be a huge advantage for the UK as long as it remained an open financial centre.

"We think that this could put the UK in a stronger position," she said.

Miles Celic, CEO of TheCityUK, which promotes the UK financial sector abroad, said the tax system and being able to hire from overseas is a large part of improving competitiveness.

"Ideally I would like to see a group bringing government, industry and regulators together," Celic said.

($1 = 0.7862 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones; editing by David Evans)

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