London is slipping as a world financial centre, being overtaken by the likes of New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, Geneva, Zurich, Chicago, Frankfurt and Boston. It has a bit of breathing space to put things right, but it needs to move quickly. That was the conclusion from a high-power lunchtime seminar of the Adam Smith Institute's led by Sandra Boss, Senior Partner of McKinsey.
Four issues for London were identified. First, the regulatory burden. London has benefited from having a well-policed financial market, but now new EU regulations threaten to add much more to the burden, putting London's world-leader status at risk. Second, UK taxes have risen, prompting a number of financial firms to leave. The tax on non-domiciles, the threatened 50% income tax rate, and changes in capital gains tax, have all made London more expensive once again. Third, London's infrastructure remains poor. Heathrow is still struggling to cope, internet bandwidth is less than perfect, and transport strikes are adding to the frustration of doing business in London.
On the other hand, London is relatively welcoming to foreigners, while New York has become much more restrictive since 9/11. And of course London has English, everyone's second language. So it is still a talent magnet. But if the tax and regulatory burden continues to rise, for how long?
To find out more about the ASI's Regulatory Evaluation Group, please click here.