The UK’s dealings with Asia and other international outposts will, along with fintech advances, be vital to the future of financial services industry, according to the UK’s Economic Secretary Simon Kirby.
Speaking at the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong, yesterday, Kirby pointed to initiatives such as the ‘FinTech Bridges’ – with Singapore, the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China as examples of cooperation that will benefit both sides. And in doing so he also revealed that Hong Kong is set to be to latest region to sign a FinTech agreement with the UK.
As the world focuses on UK PM Theresa May’s “hard Brexit” plans Kirby has been meeting officials in Asia to continue recent charm offensives by UK politicians in the region. His visit to Hong Kong follows May’s first bilateral visit outside Europe to India and UK Chancellor Phillip Hammond’s first foreign trip to Beijing and Hong Kong recently.
Kirby, pictured left, also used his speech to promote April’s first ever International FinTech Conference, to be held in London to promote the UK’s world-leading fintech sector to investors from across the world.
“We took the historic decision to take a new direction and to leave the European Union, said Kirby. “I know that for many of you, this will raise some questions about how things will change in the future. But let me provide some reassurance.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that the process of leaving the European Union will begin by the end of March this year, meaning no unnecessary delays. I also want to be clear that the UK government sees this as a huge opportunity for Britain.
‘More important now than ever before’
“We see our relationships with countries across Asia and the rest of the world as more important now than ever before. The UK is a leading global financial centre, and the natural partner of choice for Asian companies looking to go global.”
Kirby also added that when it comes to financial services, the UK remains home to one of the most international and the most experienced financial capitals in the world.
“We’re the largest exporter of financial services in the world,” he said. “We’re home to over 250 foreign banks – more than any other financial centre; we account for close to 40% of global FX trading – more than anywhere else in the world.
“And with an unrivalled pool of investors, we’re also Europe’s largest asset management centre – with almost £7trn pounds under management; and all this is supported by world-leading legal and professional services.”
Kirby told the audience at the Asian Financial Forum, which was held in Hong Kong’s Convention and Exhibition Centre, that as well as the ‘FinTech Bridge’ advances with Singapore, the Republic of Korea and the People’s Republic of China, he was “delighted” that the UK has now “taken the first steps” towards agreeing a Bridge with Hong Kong too.
The UK is also the leading western hub for the Islamic Finance, he added and aims to continue to work closely with countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, and with the Gulf Cooperation Council, to “drive innovation in this important market”.
He also pointed to the UK’s support for countries, in particular India and China – to internationalise their currencies, helping them to “connect and integrate their financial markets with the global financial system”.
“We place huge importance and value on the connections we have here in Asia,” he added. “And of course, it is about the close connections between the UK and Asian economies. I saw this first-hand when I took part in the recent UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue – where we not only made substantial progress to boost our cooperation on financial services, but also cemented ties on energy, trade and investment.
“I saw this too on my recent visit to Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. In Britain, we believe passionately in the power of working in partnership with countries right across the globe. But we should be optimistic – both at home in the UK, and across Asia – that we will also be in times of great opportunity and progress,” he said.