While the politicians have been squabbling in Westminster over the semantics of customs unions, the City’s flag bearers are getting on with drumming up new global business for a post-Brexit world.
Which is why on Friday the Lord Mayor of the City of London, Charles Bowman, and the Sheriff, Neil Redcliffe, are heading off with a posse of 16 top FinTech entrepreneurs for a 10-day tour of Australia and New Zealand. And why, as Sheriff Redcliffe put it to me: “We are getting our knickers in a twist about the wrong things. There will be a deal with the EU and the City will innovate, survive and prosper as it has done for centuries at times of great change.
“Let’s stop going around in circles. We need to focus on the bigger challenges ahead like the digital revolution, and the impact this will have on the way we work in future.”
By taking some of City’s brightest tech minds with them, Bowman and Redcliffe hope to do just this: cut new deals as well as collaborate on joint ventures with like-minded businesses in the Commonwealth countries. After the trip down under, Bowman and another trade delegation will head off again over the following 80 days on visits to China, Hong Kong, Chile, Brazil, Japan, Singapore and Nigeria to name but a few countries on the itinerary.
The direction of travel is clear: these are crucial markets for the City. The financial service industry’s exports to the rest of the world between 2007 and 2015 averaged 63% of the UK net financial services exports. ONS figures for 2016 show growth to Japan over that period was 321%, to South Korea 275%, to China 131% and to the US and to Russia, around a third. But the increase in growth to the EU27 was only 20%.