Foreword August / September 2010

UK and Japan: Financial Partners

London is gateway to Europe and a global centre

As Lord Mayor of the City of London, I am responsible for promoting the UK’s financial-services industry across international markets, and Japan is a major partner in this regard.

London has long been a gateway to Europe and beyond for top Japanese firms. The City of London is already home to the likes of Nomura and Mizuho, and we hope many more financial institutions from Japan will join them to take advantage of our operational expertise. And it is important to hear their views.

What happens in Tokyo and other Japanese financial centres is of great interest to London and vice versa. My visit to Tokyo in May helped provide a platform to discuss opportunities for closer cooperation in various areas, particularly asset management.

This management is a crucial part of what the City of London has to offer, and it has performed well despite the global financial crisis. Indeed, total assets under management recently reached £3.7 trillion.
The UK’s favourable climate for asset management and inward investment continues to attract foreign participants with imaginative tie-ups and strategies. To mention just two, Tokyo Marine Asset Management Co., Ltd. recently tied up with Threadneedle Asset Management Limited, and Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation with Aberdeen Asset Management. I hope my visit will help build on this momentum.

The City of London is truly a global financial centre. It is home to a large cluster of financial and professional services firms operating with a global footprint. Japanese firms have chosen to do business in the City for a number of reasons, including access to European and International markets, the depth and breadth of London’s markets, its highly skilled workforce and the business environment in the UK.

The City of London is a truly multidisciplinary centre that offers opportunities across a wide spectrum of financial and professional sectors. The City has strengths in areas such as banking, capital markets, asset management, insurance, commodities, advisory services and Islamic finance, to name but a few. The City of London provides a location for domestic and international firms to thrive, and we are working to secure increased investment from Japan. The City of London and its partners provide a range of services to assist overseas firms to establish operations in London, and we would be interested to hear from any firms that may be considering opening an operation in London.

“This exchange of talent has helped break down the barriers and misconceptions that may have hindered business between the two countries in the past.”

We are also proud that so many Japanese firms have chosen the City of London to establish their European operations.

During our visit to Japan, we received a very warm welcome from representatives of both the Japanese government and business organisations. There are a large number of issues affecting the financial and professional services industry around the globe and it was very interesting to share views on the challenges that the industry faces and, importantly, the opportunities that there are to increase collaboration and business opportunities between Japan and the UK.

The firms I met on my visit were positive towards London and receptive to the potential benefits of conducting business in the City. The UK remains successful in attracting Japanese investment across a range of industries in high-value-added manufacturing, research and development, regional headquarters and European marketing functions.

This is a well established and mutually beneficial partnership that I hope will continue to go from strength to strength in the coming years.

I was pleased to see that industry figures in Japan are well informed on the business environment in the UK, and open-minded regarding the opportunities available to them in the City.

Of course, we should not forget that London attracts top people from around the world and several thousand of these talented people are Japanese nationals. Besides, a large number of Brits are based in Tokyo and other Japanese centres. This exchange of talent has helped break down the barriers and misconceptions that may have hindered business between the two countries in the past.

The UK political scene has recently been in the spotlight and is directly connected to the business environment for Japanese and other overseas investors.

Although we are not familiar with government by coalition, there is an immense amount of goodwill for this. The government has made a good start in challenging circumstances, and we look forward to working closely with the government to ensure the City of London is successful and continues to contribute to the wider economy.

There were some concerns over the UK deficit, but the government has taken steps to address the issue, recently announcing a reduction of over £6 billion in public spending.

The way ahead for us here in the City is clear. We have to work with Europe. We have to engage in the G20 agenda, and we have to co-operate with the UK’s new government to build a more productive relationship with policy-makers.

We also have to design reformed banks which, to quote Paul Tucker, the deputy governor of the Bank of England, “puts capitalism back into the heart of capitalism”. This is easier said than done, but I hope regulators carefully assess the impact of any reforms before they are implemented.

The ties that we have established with Japan will be crucial to the future development of the City of London, not just in finance, but also other spheres.

About 100 British cultural organisations — theatres, museums, orchestras—have links with Japan. Some 52,000 Japanese students study in the UK each year on full-time and short-term courses. And the City, and London generally, attracts many Japanese tourists. I hope I played a small role in strengthening these cultural links during my time in Japan.

And, of course, the London 2012 Olympics offers a great platform for highlighting the City’s cultural strengths — from the Barbican Arts Centre to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, to a massive, global audience and to attracting new business.