Saturday 24 February 2018

Brics 'should use London as hub'

London Mayor Boris Johnson is chased by street vendors at India Gate in New Delhi
London Mayor Boris Johnson is chased by street vendors at India Gate in New Delhi

London should be the financial centre of a spider web for the world's fastest growing economies, Standard Life chairman Gerry Grimstone has said.

London is the natural place for companies from Brazil, Russia, India and China (Brics) to find the financial and legal services they needed, Mr Grimstone said as he welcomed a "change in tone" from senior politicians who are now much happier to vocally support the sector. He is accompanying Boris Johnson on a six-day tour of India, aimed at forging closer business links with London.

But Mr Grimstone, who also chairs TheCityUK which represents the financial services sector, warned failures of the past were down to criminality and must not go unpunished.

"An enormous amount of business is done through London by India," he told the Press Association.

"For example, an Indian company striking a deal with a Chinese bank could well do the legals and professional stuff in London. So the facts that London sees itself as the financial capital of the Brics, as well as the financial capital of Europe, can produce a tremendous amount of two-way business.

"The natural centre of the Brics is London. I have never drawn it on a map but it does sit in the centre of a spider web and that's really because of that cluster effect that you get in London, so many financial and professional services are gathered in one place.

"There has been a change of tone in the last month that is really quite striking, when we have had major speeches made in the UK made by the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. Both of those speeches were very supportive of financial services and that's the first time in three or four years that we have had senior politicians happy to do that.

"I think people are beginning to understand that some of these well-known problems in the City have been due to criminal actions by small numbers of individuals. My own feeling is that the more people who are punished and spend time in jail for breaking the law, the better for the City because it shows that it is not an endemic thing across the whole City but something that a few people have done.

"I think it is great when prime ministers, mayors, come to these places and bring people like us with them and we can kind of tag along behind. It's fantastic for us because it helps us carry our message and hopefully reinforces our message."

Earlier Mr Johnson said the UK can no longer rely on the colonial sentiments of the past if it wants to do business in India. To simply rely on India's history with the UK "simply didn't cut the mustard", Mr Johnson said, adding that he wants it to build a new partnership with London.

Press Association

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