9th February 2017
Theo, thank you for your kind introduction and remarks. I can safely say that I am delighted to be standing here today, literally. It is also great to see so many friends and people I have worked with in the audience.
They will say I'm not very good at telling jokes so I apologise if my punch lines fall totally flat on their back. I spent 18 years of my life working in the City of London as a general counsel, compliance officer, MLRO and director from investment banks to hedge funds. 18 years advising on laws and regulations that impact this vital economic sector every minute of every day from FIMBRA and LAUTRO to the FCA and its growing master ESMA, EBA and EIOPA.
Most were good days some were just awful, I made good friends and some less inclined to accept my Mancunian charm. But I recognised that the industry less elitist than the press made it out to be, it is incredibly diverse, meritocratic, incredibly hardworking, innovative and it creates 1000s of jobs, paid millions in taxation that helps sustains our nation's public services and bolsters our economy in the world.
I spent the latter years of my City career campaigning for a referendum on our EU membership. I did so not because of a crazed, kamikaze desire to leave at all costs but because of my long held belief that our parliamentary democracy had been hulled and the health of our financial services industry would become collateral damage to the EU political project. I saw how the EU was imposing untested and naive regulations, increasing costs, increasing complexity and squeezing liquidity and profitability out of flourishing businesses.
From Solvency II to MIFID to the directive that led me to pursue a career in politics, the AIFMD , no area was sacred and with 263 regulations still in the EU financial services pipeline no area will be untouched. It is why I sit on the Economic and monetary affairs committee to review the regulations and bring a perspective to that committee from someone who had to implement their laws.
I even managed to get my papers in on time to be nominated as the MEP of the year though not surprising I didn't win. The project is still in grave danger the European Banking Authorities annual report state European toxic debt is a 1 trillion euros in non performing loans. High regulatory costs has a dramatic reduction on banks return on equity and EU financial services growth severely lags Britain and the US.
Despite my belief the EU should never be the gatekeeper of the success of our financial services industry our government and regulators should seek to protect those businesses that trade in and with EU countries by engaging with those in the Commission and small number of MEPs who recognise the need to have a strong friendly and open City of London working on equivalence principles.
But the government should do more. We need to create a flexible, forward thinking and friendly regulatory environment to encourage more start ups, give the framework for established businesses to expand overseas and protect the competitiveness of our large players.
It's time to unleash our entrepreneurial freedom by rationalising and reducing the rule books, by creating a dual regulatory environment for those trading only in the U.K and rest of the world and the EU by changing our regulation says no mind set. It's time to free our smaller companies for burdensome taxation by reforming corporation tax, opening investment schemes financial services firms, capital gains tax and stamp duty reform and furthermore.
Our Eurobond and FX markets thrived when this last happened why not again. I firmly believe that Brexit will open new possibilities, regenerate tired dreams, and inspire a generation to be outwardly looking and build a globally trading Britain positively engaging with the world. I went long Brexit a few years ago, risking my own capital and income, it's now time many of you got in on the trade too.