Harriett Baldwin – 2018 Speech on Illegal Wildlife Trade

Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Minister of State for Africa at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, on 16 March 2018.

The Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sends his congratulations to everyone involved in the incredible work here. It is great to be here with you in beautiful Botswana.

President Khama has been a towering force in what is appropriately named the Giants Club. Botswana’s abundance of diverse wildlife is testament to the fantastic job that President Khama, Space for Giants, and many other committed people and organisations are doing to protect these wonders and their natural habitat. I’d like to pay tribute to the founding members of this Club – the Presidents of Botswana, Gabon, Kenya, and Uganda. We’ve heard the strength of their ongoing commitment today, and they are an inspiration to Africa and the rest of the world.

I want to hear more from the Giants Club, and from the other African delegates here today, about the action you think needs to be taken to realise African ambitions for a type of conservation that brings economic benefit to African communities. I want to say that the UK stands ready to help.

Illegal Wildlife Trade

We are all here because we understand just how tragically short-sighted the illegal wildlife trade is and because we know that if we don’t act now, it will be too late, as many species could be approaching extinction. In 1979 there were 1.3 million African elephants, today there are only 415,000. And their populations are declining at an alarming rate, which is why we need action now.

The illegal wildlife trade is threatening not only elephants, but many of the world’s endangered species – species that define national identities, and heavily influence economic development. We are all here because we know we need to preserve these riches, not destroy them. We also know that tragically, the curse of this trade is two-fold; as poaching and the illegal wildlife trade also has a deeply corrosive effect on human society.

Poachers are now coming armed to the teeth, endangering not only animals’ lives, but human lives too. They undermine state institutions and governance, they illegally exploit your countries’ natural resources, often to benefit people and networks beyond your borders, and they foster the corruption which feeds discontent and insecurity.

This insecurity can damage livelihoods and hold back development as well as robbing people of their economic potential. The criminals responsible must not be allowed to fracture your societies and plunder your children’s futures.

These are the reasons that I and the Foreign Secretary are so passionate about tackling this illegal trade head-on. We believe the work you are doing. We believe in the cooperation between your countries through the Giants Club, and we believe that that is the key to achieving real change.

Foreign Secretary’s commitment

The Foreign Secretary has made the illegal wildlife trade a personal priority, and is dedicated to ending the illegal ivory trade. He wants 2018 to be the year that real changes are made. He is particularly excited by your proposals to create a cross border safe space for wildlife.

Ambitious ideas like this are what is needed if real change is going to be achieved. Which is why Britain is supporting the awareness-raising work being done by Space for Giants, and I know the digital march of the elephants last week really set the tone for the summit.

Tackling poaching

Operations to tackle poaching will be discussed today, and they are another critical part of the Space for Giants programmes. The UK is funding practical action around the world to reduce demand, strengthen enforcement and develop sustainable livelihoods for communities affected by the illegal wildlife trade. Since the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund was launched in 2013 we have funded 47 such projects.

One recent example involves the British military delivering anti-poaching activities with rangers in Gabon, and a follow-up project in Malawi. The project aims to reduce poaching, working with African park rangers for more effective and safer counter-poaching techniques.

London Conference

The UK is hosting an important conference to tackle the illegal wildlife trade in October; and I know many of you will be attending. The conference will enable us to build on the work being done by the Giants Club and others groups. It will focus on 3 challenges:

firstly, how to tackle the illegal wildlife trade as a serious organised crime. This will consider how we strengthen law enforcement, and how we snuff out the associated corruption

secondly, we are going to build coalitions to help us in this fight. We will harness technology, and share and scale up successful and innovative solutions

we will look at how we close global markets for illegally traded wildlife products, tackling the demand problem. And yes, the UK will lead by example.

We will be shutting down our ivory trade. We will be working with the EU to do the same. That’s something we can do irrespective of whether we are in the European Union or not.

Conclusion

In conclusion to my remarks – we do not currently have the answers to all these challenges; but, if the international community works together, I know we can find the solutions. Together we can halt the alarming disappearance of these unique animals.

Harriett Baldwin – 2018 Statement on Same-Sex Marriage in Bermuda

Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the statement made by Harriett Baldwin, the Minister of State at the Department for International Development, in the House of Commons on 8 February 2018.

We are obviously disappointed about the removal of same-sex marriage in Bermuda. The Domestic Partnership Act, to which the Governor of Bermuda assented yesterday, ensures that Bermudians who have been legally married in Bermuda since the Supreme Court decision will retain their married status and enjoy the same legal rights as those in domestic partnerships.

Less than a year ago, same-sex couples had no legal recognition at all under Bermudian law. While the Act withdraws the entitlement for same-sex couples to marry, it replaces it with a provision for domestic partnerships for all couples, regardless of gender. The intent of the Act is to provide domestic partners with the same benefits as married couples, including provision for pensions, inheritance, healthcare, tax and immigration.

After full and careful consideration of Bermuda’s constitutional and international obligations, the Secretary of State decided that in these circumstances, it would not be appropriate to use the power to block legislation, which can only be used where there is a legal or constitutional basis for doing so, and even then, only in exceptional circumstances. It is important to recognise that the regime for domestic partnerships implemented by Bermuda in its Domestic Partnership Act can also meet the European Court of Human Rights requirement for legal recognition of same-sex relationships.

The Government are committed to promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality globally through projects, partnerships and persuasion. In engaging with the British overseas territories, we have to respect that they are separate, self-governing jurisdictions with their own democratically elected representatives and the right to self-government.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech on Women in Finance

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in London on 11 July 2016.

It’s great to be here today at Barclays Accelerator.

This is a fantastic space for a community of entrepreneurs and experts to find new opportunities to take your businesses forward – often using the very latest technologies to do so.

But what I want to talk about today certainly isn’t rocket science. But it is one of the very best ways any business can improve and thrive. And that’s by harnessing the full talents and potential of women.

Find out more about the Women in Finance Charter
This is a real passion of mine – both as a woman who has worked in this sector, and as the Treasury Minister responsible for Financial Services in the UK.

Because everyone here will recognise that this is still an industry dominated by men.

That was certainly the case when I started working at an investment bank in the late eighties. And I am disappointed to say it’s still the case 30 years later.

The pay gap between men and women is worse in Financial Services than in any other industry in the UK – with a woman getting 60p for every £1 a man earns.

Furthermore, just 6% of CEOs in this sector are women. And it’s not much better if you look one step down the ladder either.

Well it’s 2016, and change is long overdue.

I’m proud of the UK’s success in Financial Services. But I’m also convinced that we will not maintain our reputation as a world-leader in this sector, unless we become a world-leader in diversity too.

That’s not just the right thing to do, it’s the best thing to do for the success of any business. Quite simply, firms with a good gender balance perform better.

So I want to tackle this head on.

That’s why I asked Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the CEO of Virgin Money, to look at why so few women were represented in the top jobs, and what we could do about it.

She sadly can’t be with us today due to a family bereavement, but I want to pay tribute to the huge amount of work she put into this.

That culminated in the publication of an excellent review last March at the Bank of England, which recommends how this industry can make sure more women are rising through the ranks into the more senior roles. This launch was backed at the very highest level by the Governor Mark Carney.

And it’s thanks to her work, that the Treasury has launched a Charter for Women in Finance, asking companies to sign up to the principles she recommends.

And I’m really delighted to announce today that 72 financial services firms have now signed up to this. Together these firms employ over 530,000 people in the UK.

And they are companies of all shapes and sizes. From global banks to credit unions, national insurance companies to fintech start-ups.

We also have regulators, trade bodies and market places like the FCA, the BBA and the London Stock Exchange signed-up.

And every one of these organisations has done a huge amount to really commit to the Charter and its goals.

Let me give you just three examples.

And it would be wrong if I didn’t, at this point, start with Jayne-Anne’s company, Virgin Money, as she has been forging the way forward.

As you would expect, at Virgin Money, they’ve set themselves a fantastic target: to achieve a 50:50 gender balance at every level of their organisation by 2020.

HSBC are also setting the same target for their senior management team.

And last month, I went to speak to a financial services consultancy and recruitment firm called E2W in Kent.

They may be a smaller business but they are making a mighty effort to drive forward change and help us make this Charter a success by using their industry networks to raise awareness of the Charter and its objectives.

And so I want to thank not only these firms, but every single organisation which has signed up to the Charter.

We all share the same determination to make change happen and achieve the gender balance that we need to see.

We have today published the list of all firms that have signed the Women in Finance Charter on the gov.uk website, so that members of the public can see which firms have made these commitments.

And by the end of September, every one of these firms will have set out their own tailored targets for making progress towards gender balance at the top of their organisation on their websites.

So in September 2017, the think tank New Financial will gather data about signatories’ progress and produce the first Annual Review of the Women in Finance Charter, looking at what really works in practice.

But we want more and more firms to get on board and sign up.

We need to create a groundswell of organisations determined to make change happen.

I want the UK to be the best in the world when it comes to financial services. And that means giving women the opportunities they deserve in the 21st century to help that happen.

So I’d like to thank everyone for coming here today to celebrate this milestone in the road to improving diversity in this industry.

All of you who have already signed up to the Charter are really pioneering the way forward.

And I have no doubt that it will bring you more success in the future.

Because those who lag behind risk not only losing out in terms of performance, but also in terms of recruiting the best talent, or retaining and attracting customers.

We need more businesses to recognise this – across all sectors.

Last year, the government published a productivity plan which looked at what was holding our economy back.

And one of the key factors was that women so often face barriers which prevent them from realising their full potential.

That’s why it’s important that we all set to work to turn this around. Because if we do, there are huge gains to be made.

The Charter is one of a number of ways we’re helping to improve diversity across the workforce.

It goes hand in hand with the drive from endeavours like the review on women in senior leadership in business, led by Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Alexander. Or the work of the Investment Association’s Diversity Project, chaired by Helena Morrissey, founder of the 30% club.

So let’s keep working together, on all of these fronts, to make change happen.

Not only will our businesses do better.

Not only will the industry prosper.

But the whole country will reap the benefits.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech on EU Referendum Result

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the BBA Retail Banking Conference on 29 June 2016.

On Thursday, the people of the United Kingdom took the decision to vote to leave the European Union;

It is not the decision I, or the government, wanted.

It was a clear democratic decision on a higher turnout than in a general election.

Because that decision has been taken,

And now we must look forward.

As anticipated, the markets have been volatile,

But Britain’s financial services sector has been through trying times before.

I saw these first-hand during my 22 years working in financial services,

The crash of 1987, the ERM crisis, Long Term Capital Management’s collapse, the tech bubble and the banking crisis.

Financial markets are capable of weathering challenges.

They adapt quickly. They find new opportunities

They price in and offer ways of managing risks like these.

I think British banks are well placed to manage the uncertainty resulting from the last week’s vote.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, both the government and the industry have been working hard to ensure that the UK has a safer and stronger banking sector.

There have been fundamental reforms to our regulatory architecture to put the Bank of England back at the centre of the UK’s economic and financial systems,

And compared to pre-crisis, there is significantly more capital in the system to guard against difficult times – UK banks have raised over £130 billion of capital, and now have more than £600 billion of high quality liquid assets.

So our institutions have enough capital and liquidity to withstand a period of severe market volatility;

The Bank of England’s most recent stress tests show this.

In short, we are prepared.

The government and financial regulators have spent the last few months putting in place robust contingency plans for the immediate aftermath in the event of a “leave” vote.

We’ve worked systematically with each major financial institution to make sure they’re ready to deal with the consequences of this outcome.

Swap lines were arranged in advance so that the Bank of England can lend in foreign currency if needed,

And the Bank was ready to make an immediate statement the next morning.

As you know, the Governor was clear that the Bank of England stands ready to provide £250 billion of funds, through its normal facilities, to continue to support banks and the smooth functioning of markets.

The Chancellor has discussed our co-ordinated response with the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G7.

And the Chancellor and the Governor have continued to be in regular contact on contingency plans to be used if needed.

So not only is the industry prepared for this outcome, policy makers are ready to respond to it.

Now I don’t need to tell you that the UK’s financial system is intricate and complex.

But behind all the technical terminology and statistics is a critical social determinant – confidence.

Confidence in our financial system and confidence in its institutions.

We must not let that confidence be shaken.

The UK is the most international, most experienced financial centre in the world.

London consistently leads the rankings as the world’s global financial capital.

It has the best business environment;

The most impressive infrastructure;

The best human capital;

A very strong regulatory framework;

And the top overall reputation.

The UK also has natural strengths in financial services; a central time zone, the English language.

And our country boasts an unrivalled pool of investors

Not only in terms of size, but in quality and international experience,

And this is supported by world leading legal and professional services.

It is for these reasons that I am confident that we will adjust and overcome the challenges presented.

The government is now focused on preparing for the negotiations with the EU.

For my part, I want us to agree an economic relationship with the rest of Europe that provides for the best possible terms of trade in financial services.

Only the UK can trigger Article 50, and as the Chancellor made clear on Monday, we should only do that when our new Prime Minister has spelled out a definite view about the new arrangement we are seeking with our European neighbours.

In the meantime, and during the negotiations that will follow, there is no change to people’s rights to travel and work, and to the way our goods and services are traded, or to the way our economy and financial system is regulated.

Let’s not forget that Britain is the strongest major advanced economy in the world.

Growth has been robust, employment has reached record levels.

The budget deficit has been brought down from 11% of national income, and was forecast to be below 3% this year.

And today, I want to leave you with this message- the British economy is fundamentally strong, we are highly competitive and we are open for business.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech at City Week

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the Oval in London on 10 May 2016.

Tomorrow I will have been the Economic Secretary to the Treasury for exactly a year. So it is great timing to be here at City Week on my first anniversary as the City Minister.

It’s a job I’m very proud to be doing. I have the privilege to be minister for industry that directly employs over a million people with jobs around the country, is worth around 7% of our GDP, and contributes over £60 billion in tax.

Over 2 million people are employed indirectly, with over two-thirds of the jobs outside the M25.

So when I first took up the role last May, I was determined that this industry should be strong and healthy with excellent standards of conduct, and play its part in the UK’s economic recovery to the full.

I had 4 main aims for the industry.

I wanted it to be an industry that was strong and stable.

One that could compete with the best financial centres in the world.

One that provided the best possible services to people at every stage of their lives.

And one that moved on and learned from mistakes made in the past, and earned the trust of the public once again.

Well it has only been a year, but I think together we’ve made some genuine progress on all of these aims and I’d like to talk through some of my own personal highlights over the last year.

Firstly, we’ve definitely taken some real strides in helping this industry become more stable and secure in preparation for whatever the future may bring.

Sound financial regulation is a key part of that and just last week, we received royal assent on the Bank of England Act which further empowers the Bank of England to lead the way on this and work with us in the Treasury to make sure we are fully prepared for any unforeseen shocks.

We’ve also raised the bar for the standards of staff conduct in the industry with our Senior Managers and Certification Regime– something which the Act will make sure all authorised financial services firms are delivering.

And through our recent reforms, we’re helping small and medium sized firms across the UK get better access to finance – and from a lending market which is far more diverse and competitive.

I have a strong belief that ensuring the future strength and success of this sector relies and depends upon us fully realising the potential of women in this industry.

In fact, that’s not just a belief. The OECD have estimated that equalising the role of men and women in the labour market could increase GDP by 10% by 2030.

So I’m hugely proud of our work on this over the past year – and I must thank Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, for the review she did on this which led to our Charter for Women in Finance, which already has some of the biggest financial firms in the business signed up.

And I’d urge anyone here today who isn’t signed up to it, to go away and look into doing so.

Another priority for me was for the UK to remain the most competitive financial centre in the world. Which is why I was delighted when the Global Financial Centres Index ranked us number 1 last month – again.

We have a strong legal system, skilled workforce, excellent professional services, a language used for business across the world, and a good time zone.

But we know we cannot afford to be complacent in such a highly competitive industry.

That’s precisely why we re-launched the Financial Services Trade and Investment Board last year.

It’s a partnership between government and industry which looks at what more we can do to keep that number 1 spot and keep delivering jobs and growth across the UK.

The board has certainly been busy, focusing its attention on seven different priority initiatives which have high potential for growth – such as investment management, insurance, capital markets or technology.

Another focus for the board has been forging deeper links with key world economies like the US, India and China. In fact one of my favourite moments last year was to visit China and see for myself just how successful our efforts have been – whether it’s in helping our firms get more access to the Chinese market, or deepening the links between our capital markets.

And one last thing I’d like to mention which is really giving us the edge worldwide, is our FinTech industry. We already have a booming industry in this and we want to help this grow. That’s why we’ve working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority to help firms navigate the regulatory side of coming to market, including by creating a safe space – we’re calling it a ‘regulatory sandbox’ in which businesses can test innovative products and services with customers before undertaking the full authorisation process and costs that entails. And I’m delighted this came on board and opened for applications just yesterday.

The Financial Conduct Authority has also set up a support service to help guide firms through the regulations in place to become an authorised firm.

And we’ve also been working hard to develop partnerships overseas – with Eileen Burbidge as our Special Envoy. But why does all of this matter? This isn’t just about our national prosperity. For me, it is hugely important that we enable financial services firms to deliver the best possible services for the people of this country.

Over the last 12 months we have reached some major milestones in that.

Take, for example, our review of the financial advice market. This taught us that there was a real gap in the market for customers who didn’t have huge sums to invest.

Well, we think the UK can do better. We want there to be affordable and accessible advice out there for everyone working to achieve their aspirations, and at every stage of their lives.

So we’re taking forward all of the recommendations that came from our review, and working to make sure that whoever you are, it’s easy for you to get the quality, professional advice you need about how you can make the most of your hard earned money.

Government has also taken important steps to make saving as easy as possible.

Our government-backed products like the Help to Buy: ISA, with over 400,000 accounts opened, have already proved really popular and we’re continuing to expand the range of such schemes available – such as the new Lifetime ISA for under 40s we announced at the last Budget, or our Help to Save for people on lower incomes.

We’re also replacing the Money Advice Service with a new, and more effective body – a reform which goes hand in hand with our merger of the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise – putting an end to the confusion people had about which body to turn to.

And speaking of pensions, we also know it’s not easy keeping track of your pension pot – that’s why we’re working with industry to create a pensions dashboard to allow people to see their pensions online in a single place.

Together with our changes to automatically enrol people on pensions, and our introduction of a new allowance to help people pay for pension advice, we hope to make it much more straightforward for people to plan effectively for their retirement.

Financial Services not only play a leading role in our economy, they play a leading role in people’s lives. They help you buy a house, plan for a family, save for your retirement.

That’s why it could not be more important that companies in this industry are trusted. That means that it’s vital that this industry learns from the mistakes of the past and rebuilds public confidence.

The UK’s financial system is far more resilient than it was before the financial crisis.

Major banks’ capital ratios have more than doubled since 2009.

We’ve abolished the tripartite system of regulation.

We’ve put the Bank of England firmly in the driving seat for managing a crisis.

We’ve created the Financial Conduct Authority and Prudential Regulation Authority – soon to be committee – to be the City watch-dogs.

And we’re taking on the issue of ‘too big to fail’ to protect the economy without the financial sector relying on bail-outs from the taxpayer. That includes a ‘ring-fencing’ regime, whereby banks separate their riskier investment activities from their retail banking.

And last year we sold over £20 billion of financial assets, with the Lloyds trading plan, first sale of RBS shares, and the £13 billion sale of former Northern Rock mortgages. There is still more to do, but this has been a record year for privatisations.

So there is no doubt that we have come a long way in the last year, and I hope we will achieve just as much in the year to follow – so that I can come back to City Week 2017 and talk about all the success we’re seeing!

But there is a real risk to that looming on the horizon.

We have just weeks left before the country has its say on our future in the European Union.

And as the City Minister, I want to make it very clear where I stand on this issue.

Because it is my job is to see the financial services industry grow, not unravel. To stay on top, not lose out to the likes of Frankfurt, Paris or Luxembourg City.

For me, the evidence is clear. When it comes to the financial services in particular, our membership of the EU could not be more crucial.

Firstly, it means jobs for hundreds of thousands of people – you may have heard the Chancellor yesterday tell us that there are 285,000 jobs linked to our financial services exports to the EU. And if we were to leave, tens of thousands of people’s jobs may be at risk.

And whether you look at the firms which flood to this country to set up their European headquarters, or the huge amount of foreign direct investment we attract – more than anyone else in the EU at almost £150 million invested here a day over the last decade – these are things which are built upon our membership of the European Union.

In particular, they depend upon the EU financial services passport, which allows trade across the Single Market with less complexity and lower costs.

We are, quite simply, a less attractive proposition for financial services firms if we leave the EU.

And don’t imagine for a minute that the EU Commission will stop regulating financial services on 24 June – it is just that we would no longer have Lord Hill as our commissioner or a seat at the table.

So if you believe, as I do, that turning our backs on the Single Market of 500 million people, something those who want us to leave the EU are advocating, could be catastrophic for this industry, it’s really important that you speak up.

Whether that’s telling your friends and family, your employees, or the public at large, it’s really important that you share what you know.

That you explain what we risk if we were to leave – uncertainty for thousands of financial services firms in the UK, and the jobs of the people they employ.

So in short, and as ever, there’s a lot on, and a lot to play for.

In government, we’re working hard both to secure the UK’s reputation as the best place in the world for financial services.

We’re working hard to make the case to remain in the EU.

And we’re working hard to make sure that the industry keeps on helping people in the UK achieve their financial security throughout their lives.

In City Week we reflect on what has happened and what could happen in the year ahead.

Let’s choose the path of greater economic security, harnessing the power of financial services to help people with their goals, right across a single market of 500 million people.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech on Financial Centres

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in Manchester on 28 April 2016.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m the Economic Secretary to the Treasury – often known as ‘The City Minister’. My job is to make sure the UK remains a world leader when it comes to Financial Services.

But I want to make it absolutely clear from the start: my job is certainly not just about the City of London.

One of the things I’m always keen to point out is that the UK has a lot more than a square mile to offer the world of finance.

And in fact out of over 2 million people who work across the UK in financial and related services, around two-thirds of them are employed outside London.

So it’s a real pleasure to be here in Manchester today and I want to thank Matt [Wells – Site Exec BNY Mellon] and our hosts at BNY Mellon.

BNY Mellon is clearly a global company which knows full well just how much the UK has to offer – with offices across the country – from London to Poole, from Leeds to here in Manchester.

Because this is a country which has considerable strengths:

– we have a global location that allows firms to do business with Asia in the morning and the Americans in the afternoon

– we have a robust and independent legal system

– a fair and effective regulatory system

– a multicultural, multilingual workforce

– and full access to the EU single market

We can be proud of the reputation we have built as one of the best places to do business – we have more overseas financial institutions and investors choosing to do business in and with the UK than any other country.

It’s also great news that earlier in the month, the Global Financial Centres Index kept us in the number one position.

But we need to keep it that way and I’d like to elaborate briefly on three particular areas where we’re taking action to support this.

Firstly, we want our financial services industry to be the most competitive and innovative in the world.

We want it to deliver greater choice and value for customers.

So we’re delivering the 7 day Current Account Switch Service and midata, making it easier for customers to switch when they see a better deal.

We’re also helping new entrants and challengers enter the market by lowering the barriers to entry and establishing a regulatory environment which helps smaller, new firms grow.

And we’re leading the world on innovation around open bank data to provide a range of extra services to consumers.

We’re also setting the pace when it comes to financial technology, or FinTech. This is already of huge significance to our economy – last year it brought in £6.6 billion of revenue.

We’re helping it grow further with a wide range of supporting measures – from establishing an industry-led panel to lead our strategy, to creating an information hub or creating ‘FinTech Bridges’ to help our FinTech companies expand internationally.

We’re also looking at how we can best aid FinTech growth around the UK – be that through regional hubs or special envoys.

And we’re not letting our regulation lack behind the advances made in technology – and the FCA Innovation Hub’s work on this is being copied around the world.

Lastly, we are absolutely determined to invest in the skills of our workforce – and apprenticeships are at the heart of this.

The new apprenticeship levy will put the funding in the hands of employers to ensure that it delivers the training that they need.

This will help realise our commitment to significantly increase the quantity and quality of apprenticeships in England to 3 million starts by 2020.

And we’re looking at what more we can do to help more women get on in the financial services sector. Last month Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, published her review into the representation of women in senior jobs in the sector.

Since then we’ve launched a Women in Finance Charter – asking firms to adopt its recommendations – and if you haven’t heard of this yet, I’d urge you to look into it and sign up!

So we’ll continue to keep our regulation world class; to invest in talent; to develop areas such as financial technology, where we have a competitive advantage; to promote greater competition on the high street; and to continue to build up the strengths of all of our cities and regions.

That’s why we’re here today in the North West.

BNY Mellon is not alone in recognising that this is a great region for business.

Banks are increasingly choosing to make their homes here in Manchester.

The Cooperative Bank has its headquarters here. Barclays has over 4000 staff here, forming an essential part of their operations – whether they are supporting the bank’s infrastructure, working on product development or looking at Big Data opportunities.

There is also cutting-edge work in financial technology here.

And beyond Manchester, Liverpool has an experienced wealth, asset and fund management industry.

Chester is also a top city for financial and professional services – including for example the 2000 people employed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Furthermore, the North West has excellent transport links. Manchester airport, for example, has seen rapid growth in direct long haul flights in recent years including the first direct route to China set to start soon.

And let’s not forget that the region is also within 2 hours rail commute from London and also Birmingham Airport, giving easy access to the UK’s largest international airports at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The North West is proving itself on the world stage as a great place to set up shop.

And it’s easy to see why.

Costs for businesses operating in the North West region are typically 30 to 40% lower than London, yet the region still provides the established business communities, infrastructure and quality of life that firms require to thrive.

Furthermore, it’s a region that can offer the talent and skills companies need. It’s not surprising. The North West boasts 14 universities and gives us around 50,000 graduates a year – two-thirds of whom choose to stay in the region after university.

So it is little wonder that the region’s financial services sector now has over 5,000 firms, is worth over £8 billion and already employs almost 100,000 people and counting – with Manchester alone set to create over 60,000 more jobs in the industry over the next decade.

But I think we’re all here today because we want to see the North West go even further.

That’s why I’m delighted that we are launching the North West Financial Centre of Excellence today…the fourth of an initial series of 8 UK regions, pulling out all the stops to convince companies across the world that they are the places to do business.

This has been an enormously collaborative project: the Treasury, UK Trade & Investment, and local enterprise partnerships have worked and are working hand-in-hand to promote the North West as a ‘Financial Centre of Excellence’.

And I want to thank everybody who is involved in this – I’ve been told again and again what a positive process this has been.

But particular mentions must go to Midas here in Manchester, and the Cheshire West & Chester and Liverpool region Local Enterprise partnerships; the Universities of Liverpool, Chester, Manchester, Lancaster, and Manchester Metropolitan and Liverpool John Moores Universities.

And a final thank you to TheCityUK who are helping us reach out far and wide to make our pitch on the world stage.

This project ties in closely with wider government work to help our cities and regions outside London realise their huge potential.

Our concept of the Northern Powerhouse is based on harnessing the latent power of the great cities of the North, and creating something that can compete not only with London, but with cities and financial hubs across the globe.

It’s based heavily on the work my Ministerial colleague Lord O’Neill carried out in Cities Growth Commission and beyond, which showed that the fastest-growing areas in the world all had clusters of innovative, interconnected urban regions beyond the capital.

So that’s what we want to do in the UK.

Of course, there is no monopoly on Powerhouses: we’re working closely with all our regions to create growth and build up their strengths.

But the North is where some of the most exciting things are happening.

Look at our devolution agenda.

We strongly believe in putting more power in the hands of the people who know best: the people who actually live there. That’s why we’ve been striking devolution deals with authorities in every part of England, giving local communities more power and responsibility to make the decisions that work best for them.

And last month, our Budget showed how serious we were – devolving even more powers to Greater Manchester – like the adult education budget, powers on criminal justice and powers to retain 100% of business rates.

Liverpool, too, will pilot the approach on the retention of business rates, as well as getting new powers over transport.

These are flagship leads: and it’s the North West leading the way.

Investment is an essential part of building the Northern Powerhouse – in everything from schools to science and technology, transport, digital and innovation, and culture and tourism across the region.

And, at the last Budget, we announced investment in vital transport connections – such as giving the green light to HS3 between Leeds and Manchester, spending over £160 million on improving the road network in the North, and exploring the possibility of a Trans-Pennine tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester.

With state-of-the-art transport links, with award-winning centres of research and development, with world-class skills and with a positive, can-do attitude, we can create another economic revolution here in the North West.

It is, ultimately, our ambition to end the historic North/South divide: and that will make the whole of the UK more prosperous.

I know it’s an agenda we all share and I look forward to continuing our work together to win more investment, more jobs, more opportunities and more growth for the North West – it’s not just good for this region, but for the prosperity and success of the country as a whole.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech on Tax Avoidance and Evasion

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 13 April 2016.

I am again delighted to be given the opportunity to outline the action that the Government are proud to have taken to tackle tax evasion, tax avoidance and aggressive tax planning. No Government have done more to ensure that people and companies pay the taxes they owe and to crack down on those who do not play by the rules. That is why, from day one, we have introduced measure after measure to close down the tax loopholes we inherited, to increase the punishment for those who break the law, to drive forward tax transparency and ensure that the UK is at the forefront of new global standards, to ensure that international tax rules are fit for the 21st century, to reform the regimes in overseas territories and Crown dependencies, and to increase HMRC’s powers to collect the money that pays for the public services on which we all depend.

Yes, individuals and companies should pay their fair share of tax, which is exactly what this Government have been ensuring that they do. The activities in Panama are already the subject of intensive HMRC investigation. It is imperative that the leaked data are examined closely, which is why we are setting up and providing funding for an operationally independent, cross-agency taskforce to sift through the millions of pages of data. Where there is evidence of any wrongdoing, rapid action will be taken. The Government also attach great importance to giving HMRC the resources to protect our tax base, which is why at last year’s summer Budget we announced an extra £800 million to fund additional work to tackle evasion and non-compliance by 2020-21. That will enable HMRC to recover a cumulative £7.2 billion in tax over the next five years.

The Opposition motion talks about beneficial ownership. Thanks to this Government’s action, our register of company beneficial ownership will go live in June. We are the first major country to have such a list in place, free for anyone to access. In addition, we are consulting on requiring foreign companies that own property or bid on public contracts in England to provide beneficial ownership information, too.

We heard from a range of speakers today. The hon. Member for Hayes and Harlington (John McDonnell) has a new-found interest in a topic he asked no questions on during 13 years of Labour government, but he has managed over the past week to confirm his party as anti-aspiration and anti-wealth-creation, and as wanting to create an atmosphere of envy. We heard from the hon. Member for Dundee East (Stewart Hosie), who was much more welcoming of the measures the Government have introduced, and he also attacked Labour’s lack of action in 13 years. We heard a very informed speech from my hon. Friend the Member for Torbay (Kevin Foster), a member of the Public Accounts Committee, who shared with us his expertise in that area. We also heard an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne North (Catherine McKinnell), who is chair and founder of the all-party group on anti-corruption. She will be aware of the proposed new offences that we are introducing in terms of prosecuting companies that fail to prevent evasion. She will want to participate in that consultation and in the process of legislation on that offence.

My hon. Friend the Member for South Suffolk (James Cartlidge) brought in his expertise in business, highlighting the steps the Government have taken to help low earners. The hon. Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth (Debbie Abrahams) used some fairly dodgy statistics, but I am pleased to confirm that the amount of £1.8 billion has been made available for compliance and enforcement, which is an increase in resources, over the last two Parliaments. She raised questions about trusts, asking whether the arrangements relating to the beneficial ownership of companies should be extended to trusts. There are many legitimate reasons for creating a trust and the vast majority of trusts across the UK are used for legitimate purposes. Setting up a blanket requirement would distract action from the areas of most concern, such as shell companies.

My hon. Friend the Member for Bracknell (Dr Lee) made an interesting speech, in which he recommended abolishing corporation tax completely. The Government are not ready to do that at this point in time. The hon. Member for Newport West (Paul Flynn) made an angry speech that included rather a lot of personal attacks on individual Conservative politicians. My hon. Friend the Member for Lewes (Maria Caulfield) made an excellent speech highlighting the Labour party’s politics of envy and our steps to make our income tax system even more progressive.

The hon. Member for Blaydon (Mr Anderson) spoke up for the low-paid, but I detected a strong streak of the politics of envy for anyone else in his speech. My hon. Friend the Member for Newark (Robert Jenrick) made a good speech about the credible action against corruption and criminality that this Government have taken. He gave an excellent and incisive summary of what we have done, drawing on his knowledge of the art world. We heard an interesting speech from the hon. Member for Glasgow South (Stewart Malcolm McDonald), and I can confirm that HMRC does work closely with Interpol and is indeed finalising the list for the anti-corruption summit as we speak. We heard helpful contributions from Members from Northern Ireland, who welcomed some of the steps the Government have taken.

In conclusion, this country is leading the way on tackling tax evasion and tax avoidance, bringing in billions from offshore tax evaders since 2010 through the actions we have taken. We have made more than 40 changes to tax law in the last Parliament alone, and in this Parliament more than 25 have already been announced for legislation.

Although Labour has suddenly decided to give lectures on tax, I remind the House that when we came into office there were foreign nationals not paying capital gains tax when selling UK property, private equity managers paying lower rates of tax than their cleaners, and rich homebuyers getting away without paying stamp duty by owning homes through companies. We have taken action to fix that. We have increased the amount paid in income tax by the top 1% from £31 billion 10 years ago to £47 billion now. We have made our taxes more internationally competitive. We have cut income tax for tens of millions of hard-working people, rewarded aspiration and made the tax system better, fairer and more efficient. That is our record. We are proud of it, and I urge the House to vote against today’s Opposition motion.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech on Financial Advice

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 13 April 2016.

Good morning – I’m very pleased indeed to be here today to discuss one of the most important priorities for the financial services sector: helping people make the right financial decisions at the key stages of their lives.

Financial decisions are some of the most important a person will make during their lifetime. And it is therefore vital that people can get the help they need, and can choose the type of support that works for them.

Currently, we have an advice market that works well for wealthier customers. But those without significant wealth have an ‘advice gap’.

The average cost of advice is £150 per hour, and the average advice process takes over 7 hours for investment advice and 9 hours for retirement advice. This means that for many, advice is seen as unaffordable.

And firms faced barriers too. I heard evidence from a firm that felt unable to list funds in order of risk, only alphabetically. Another felt unable to contact customers to let them know that they have not used their ISA allowance in a given tax year, or point out that a customer had never increased their pension payments, despite receiving a pay increase.

So that is the context in which we launched the Financial Advice Market Review, which became immediately known as FAMR.

As you’ll know, FAMR published its final report last month.

It set out a new approach to financial advice through 28 recommendations. These recommendations are aimed at stimulating the development of a market that will provide affordable and accessible financial advice and guidance for everyone, at all stages of their lives.

I was delighted by the response to the consultation.

The FAMR secretariat received almost 270 responses, and conducted over 115 hours of meetings to hear your views and ideas.

And I would like to thank all of you here who participated over the course of the review for your invaluable input.

I hope that the recommendations made by FAMR will enable firms and providers to offer consumers different advice and guidance options that suit a range of needs.

From robo-advice that enables people to select an investment fund that helps them meet their savings goals; to streamlined advice on how to protect their income after starting a family; to affordable, holistic retirement advice.

So today I’d like to talk about FAMR’s recommendations, and how the government, the FCA, industry, employers and consumer bodies can work together to ensure that FAMR is a success.

For our part, we have committed to take forward all of the recommendations for which we, as a government, are responsible, and I know that industry will continue to work with us to drive forward progress.

So let me talk about some of these recommendations…

A number of the recommendations focus on ensuring that the regulatory environment helps firms provide affordable advice services.

I know how frustrating it is – for firms and customers alike – when there’s uncertainty about the boundary between “regulated advice” and “guidance” when all people really want is help.

That is why we committed at Budget to consult on changing the definition of financial advice so that it reflects the EU definition of advice as a “personal recommendation”, and we will consult on this over the summer.

I hope that this will do away with the current confusion surrounding multiple definitions, and enable firms to do more for their customers.

I hope that the development of a new streamlined advice regime will also enable advisers to give affordable advice focussed on specific needs, without conducting a disproportionately long and expensive fact find.

I am confident that these measures will give firms the flexibility to bring forward innovative new guidance and advice offerings, so that consumers can select a service that meets their individual needs.

I am also a big believer in the potential for technology to have a significant impact on the supply of advice.

I was delighted when last month the UK was ranked as the world’s leading fintech hub, according to an independent report by EY.

One of the key factors that led to this success was the UK’s supportive regulatory environment, with the Financial Conduct Authority’s Project Innovate receiving special mention as a ‘best-in-class’ programme.

The speed with which technology has changed our day to day lives is astonishing and wonderful. For many people, engaging with their finances online is becoming the norm. For example, over half of people use internet banking.

High quality automated advice has the potential to help bridge the advice gap by bringing affordable options to the mass market. There are already a number of excellent examples on the market, for example LV=’s CORA.

However, I know some firms have been cautious about bringing their models to market, for fear that they won’t comply with regulatory requirements.

That is why FAMR has recommended that we apply our expertise as a global fintech centre, and build on the success of Project Innovate. So the FCA will provide regulatory support for high quality robo-advice propositions that will have impact on the mass market through a new ‘advice unit’, which Tracey McDermott will tell you more about shortly.

A key objective of FAMR is to help consumers engage with their finances. And the development of fintech and the use of data will play an important part of this.

Allowing customers to have easy access to their data is critical. That’s why we have taken action through the excellent collaborative work on Midata and the Open Banking Standard.

And throughout the FAMR consultation, there was also overwhelming support for a Pensions Dashboard that would allow people to access their pension data easily, viewing all of their pension savings in one place.

This would help them to engage with their pension, and gain a better understanding of what actions they can take to ensure a comfortable income in retirement. This matters to a lot of people.

Since the start of auto-enrolment, over 6 million people have been auto-enrolled into a workplace pension. Once fully implemented, around 9 million people are expected to be enrolled, increasing the amount being saved into workplace pensions by around £15 billion per year. And this presents both a need, and an opportunity, to help consumers engage with their finances through the workplace.

There are a number of exciting dashboard initiatives already going on, and I am keen to ensure that the government does what it can to support their progress.

That is why I will act as ministerial champion to support industry in designing and delivering the dashboard, and I am looking forward to working together to bring this technology to consumers by 2019.

Good financial advice is also imperative. Research by Scottish Widows found that 57% of employees want financial advice in the workplace. Employers have also told us that they want to do more to help their employees at retirement. While Unbiased, an independent UK directory of advisers, found that those who sought retirement advice increased their retirement savings by an average of £98 a month as a direct result.

We want to support employers who give employees access to advice, so we announced at Budget that we will increase the tax exemption for employer arranged-pension advice from £150 to £500. We will also remove a cliff edge that meant that if the employer spends £151, all the tax benefit is lost. This will make advice more affordable for employers who want to provide it to their staff.

But we want a benefit of this kind to be available to everyone, including the self-employed and those whose employers do not arrange advice on their behalf.

We will therefore be consulting over the summer on introducing a pensions advice allowance.

This would allow people to withdraw £500 tax free from their defined contribution pension pot before the age of 55, to redeem against the cost of holistic financial advice.

The pensions advice allowance could also provide a ‘nudge’ to get people thinking about their retirement early, so that they can plan for their retirement, and if necessary step up their savings rate.

I encourage the industry to engage with the pensions advice allowance consultation, and view this as an opportunity to tell us how the allowance could best meet the needs of consumers, whilst also working for firms.

It is our intention that the tax exemption for employer provided advice and the pensions advice allowance could be complementary, so it would be possible for those who are able to use both to access up to £1000 of tax advantaged advice.

For these measures to be a success, and for consumers to have the confidence to engage with financial services, they need to know that the industry is designed to work for them and that they will have access to redress. That is why FAMR did not recommend a reverse of the Retail Distribution Review, no return to commission, and no compromise on consumer protection.

In the context of FAMR, it is also right that the government reassesses its public financial guidance provision.

Changing the regulatory regime for advice will make much more financial guidance available to consumers by facilitating greater availability of alternatives to government-backed financial guidance, as both financial services firms and third sector providers come forward with innovative guidance offerings.

Of course, some people will still require impartial financial guidance, particularly those with lower financial capability. But we need an approach to guidance that works with the market, and doesn’t duplicate it.

The public financial guidance consultation was positive about the commissioning model the government currently uses for debt advice. This is why we have decided to replace the Money Advice Service with a new, slimmed down money guidance body that will identify gaps in the financial guidance market, and commission targeted debt advice, money guidance and financial capability projects to fill these gaps.

This body will have no brand, and will not engage in direct delivery. Instead it will focus purely on commissioning services and will seek significant input from the financial services sector. Money will no longer be spent on marketing – allowing the new body to channel as much money as possible directly to the front line, via third parties and charities with local expertise.

The new money guidance body will have a corporate, rather than a consumer-facing website, where details of funding opportunities will be published. We will ensure that useful budgeting tools and products created by MAS will continue to be hosted on appropriate websites

We will, however, be continuing to offer government backed guidance. Many people find pensions a complex subject and are likely to have a range of questions in their lifetime that they will want help and support to answer.

So we are pooling the expertise of the Pensions Advisory Service and Pension Wise, and some pensions guidance provided by the Money Advice Service into a single pensions guidance body. This will make sure that customers can get all their pensions questions answered in one place, and will not face frustrating hand-offs if they have questions about a range of issues.

These are exciting changes which will deliver more financial help to more people, advice tailored to their specific needs, and guidance for those who just need some support in making their own decisions.

And all with no compromise on quality or consumer protection; in short, a market that works for the customer.

To get these reforms bedded in, we will need to work together – alongside consumer groups, industry and employers.

So I’m pleased that a Financial Advice Working Group, drawing members from the FAMR Expert Advisory Panel and the FCA Consumer and Practitioner Panels, chaired by Nick Prettejohn, will take an active role in implementing some of these recommendations.

The next step will be to make these recommendations a success – and I look forward to working with you all to do exactly that.

Harriett Baldwin – 2016 Speech at Fintech Week

Harriett Baldwin
Harriett Baldwin

Below is the text of the speech made by Harriett Baldwin, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at an event held by the Association of British Insurers on 22 February 2016.

It is great to be here to kick off Fintech Week.

Fintech Week has two key aims.

The first is to celebrate our status as a leading global Fintech hub.

The second is to look at what we need to do if we want to become, and remain, the leading global Fintech hub.

Part of that is, of course, what more government, or regulators, can do to support UK Fintech.

But it’s also about what this event highlights – what we can do to foster greater collaboration between Fintechs and traditional financial services firms.

It feels particularly apt for this event to be held in this historic part of London, right next to Shoreditch and Hoxton, the hubs of innovation and technology in London.

It’s an area which has become a byword for innovative technology.

The buzz in this historic corner of London shows how important it is to us as a country to be open to new things and new ideas.

And that effect isn’t just local or regional – it’s national. Across the UK the Fintech market generated over £6.5 billion in revenue last year. Our Fintechs attract significant investment, with around £550 million in capital invested in 2015. It is clear that we have a strong pool of talent and the right government and regulatory regimes to help Fintechs thrive.

I’ve been particularly encouraged by seeing start-ups from across the world choosing the UK as their home and developing their businesses here.

As an example, Startupbootcamp’s new accelerator programme based in London, called InsurTech, offers funding and mentoring to companies from across the world.

And aside from the positive economic effects, Fintech also helps normal people in their daily lives. It gives them extra choices; it makes their everyday tasks simpler; it improves their quality of life. In the 21st century, Fintech is quite simply essential in making financial services work for the customer.

So Fintech is something we want to see grow ever stronger in the UK – because the technologies you have or are developing have huge economic benefits for the UK and beyond.

And as a government, we are determined to ensure that we’ve got the right environment to nurture businesses and really boost technological innovation, supporting the sector in any way that we can.

We’ve made a strong start in making the UK an attractive environment in which to be a Fintech business.

In 2014, the Financial Conduct Authority launched Project Innovate and subsequently established the Innovation Hub – a support unit for innovative businesses to help them understand the regulatory framework and apply for authorisation.

The FCA has continued this good work with a number of other initiatives. One of the most exciting is the FCA’s regulatory sandbox which will be open to applications for testing from firms this coming spring.

Though “regulatory sandbox” is certainly a contender for the “jargon of the year award”, what a regulatory sandbox does is provide a safe space for innovative firms to test out new ideas at an early stage, with real consumers, but with oversight from the regulator.

As an additional benefit, a sandbox also ensures the regulator is close to innovations in financial services and understands both the risks and benefits they may pose.

I know that the ABI has been supportive of this and has been working closely with the FCA to ensure that companies developing insurance products can benefit – I hope that this will continue going forward.

It’s not just the FCA who have been busy working in this space. As a government, we’ve also been working on how Fintechs can make better use of bank data on behalf of customers, by creating an Open Application Programming Interface (API) standard in UK banking.

This would, for example, enable Fintechs to design phone apps which help customers manage their money better.

Earlier this month, the Open Banking Working Group published a framework for how the open API standard can be designed and delivered. My thanks go to the Group’s chairs and all those involved in this important work.

In addition, we recently appointed Eileen Burbidge as the UK’s Special Envoy for Fintech. In this role she represents UK interests in Fintech, at home and around the world, and leads the Treasury’s engagement with industry.

But the work doesn’t stop here. We know we have to build on our successes if we are to maintain our position as the leading global FinTech hub and compete with the likes of Silicon Valley. There is fierce international competition for this growing industry, so it’s vital that we don’t stand still.

As I mentioned at the start, greater collaboration with traditional financial services firms, such as those in the insurance sector, can play a crucial role here.

How the insurance sector can contribute and what they have done so far

The UK insurance industry has long been a pioneer in insurance innovation, with a long and proud history stretching back to the 17th century.

UK insurers have always been among the first to take on exotic new risks created by evolving technology – such as the first cars and aeroplanes – and to sell insurance in new ways – such as over the phone or on online.

And this readiness to innovate has helped keep the insurance industry a leader in Europe, and one of the great assets of the UK’s financial services industry. That is certainly something we are determined to see continue.

In this rapidly changing society and technological landscape, the challenge for industry is how best to adapt to these fast-paced changes. Customers want and expect more from service providers – everything has to be quicker and better!

We’ve already seen companies like ‘Cuvva’ step up to this challenge where, once signed up, you can purchase short term insurance for a car within minutes, even seconds if you’re quick enough, just by using an app and a smartphone camera.

I believe that UK financial services are nothing if not adaptable – so I know that the industry will thrive in this changing environment, spot new opportunities – and continue growing, and serving your customers.

Much innovation in financial services comes from start-ups and from other non-conventional players. This is why collaboration between start-ups and the larger institutions is key. Both can learn from each other; both, ultimately, stand to benefit from working closely together.

There have already been some exciting developments in the insurance tech industry, such as within the telematics and ‘big data’ sphere.

For instance, we are seeing the advent of ‘social insurance’, whereby some brokers are accessing a greater client base through social media to disrupt the sector.

The government’s open data initiative, along with general progress in ‘big data’, is helping transform how underwriters price risk. As an example, some have made use of the publicly available DVLA data when designing new products in relation to motor insurance.

And the government’s continued support is also clear from our commitment to organisations such as the Alan Turing Institute, which will ensure that we continue to remain at the forefront of digital and technological advances.

Other opportunities include ‘block-chain’, which has been heralded as revolutionary by some, particularly for the insurance sector, owing to its potential to reduce insurance fraud.

It is great to see the insurance industry take advantage of opportunities such as these, and others. And I’ve been particularly pleased to see some insurers creating dedicated spaces, to test new ideas and collaborate with tech start-ups.

The Aviva Digital Garage is an excellent example – and I know there are many more companies that are also investing in similar initiatives, such as AXA who announced that they would be funding a new €100 million InsurTech incubator, dedicated to designing and launching novel disruptive products and services for insurance clients.

I hope that, in the future, we will see many more combinations like these, between well-known institutions, with their knowledge and expertise, and start-ups, with exciting new ideas to bring to the table. These sort of partnerships can only be win-win.

Events like this are excellent ways of forging such relationships:

You come together, you discuss your challenges, you think of ways to overcome them, you throw around ideas. You collaborate. You grow.

When that happens, everyone stands to benefit. And we, as a government, will be on your side.

So I hope today discussion – in this amazing venue – proves fruitful and constructive, and I hope you will all continue to engage with one another, and help make – and keep – the UK the leading Fintech hub in the world.