John Glen – 2019 Speech at CityUK Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 18 June 2019.

Thank you, Mark [Mark Tucker, Chairman CityUK].

It’s a privilege to deliver the opening speech at your annual conference.

I hope you will indulge me today if I take a more personal approach to my remarks.

Because I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learnt while I’ve been in the role.

You see, as of last week, I’ve clocked up more than 17 months in this job.

That might not sound impressive – but it makes me the longest serving Economic Secretary since 2010.

And measured against the average lifespan of a Brexit Secretary it seems like an eternity.

That said, it won’t have escaped your attention that change is once again in the air.

Very soon, we will have a new Prime Minister, who will no doubt pick his own ministerial team.

I don’t know if, when or where I’ll move, if I’ll have any job.

I just want to be very clear I will do all that I can to support the City while I remain in the job.

This morning I’d like to share some of the priorities I have adopted while in post.

And whatever happens in the next few weeks, this government will always be committed to supporting and enabling the City to maintain and strengthen its world-leading position.

Listening to the City

The first and most important lesson is the need to listen.

During my tenure, I’ve done my utmost to hear as many views as possible across the length and breadth of the sector about the challenges and opportunities of the future.

I’ve heard from investment banks about the difficulties caused by low levels of activity in capital markets…and the pressures they face to cut costs while also introducing new technologies to the trading floor, with all that entails in terms of governance and control.

Insurance companies have told me about the new pricing models that are coming to the fore in response to consumer concerns over value-for-money.

FinTechs tell me about the global competition they encounter in seeking to recruit world class computer programmers and data scientists.

Asset managers tell me about their ambition to cement the UK’s place as a global leader in sustainable and responsible investment and leave ourselves well placed in growing markets beyond the EU.

I could go on…

Whatever your challenges – whatever your ambitions – the government must continue to remove the obstacles that stand in the way of success.

But there is one other thing the City has told me consistently over the past few months.

It stands head-and-shoulders above all other concerns.

It is, of course, the need to bring the Brexit impasse to a swift and satisfactory resolution.

I am clear that we must do whatever is required to ensure the City remains a competitive place to do business.

I know the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will set out his own thoughts on how we can build on the strengths of our financial services sector when he speaks at Mansion House on Thursday. I’ll be there too…

The City’s historic and enduring strengths didn’t come about by chance. And they can never be taken for granted, whatever the political or macroeconomic context.

You probably don’t need me to remind you that the financial services sector contributed £75 billion in taxes during the last financial year.

We’ve got to have a clear plan to maintain the City’s place at the centre of the global financial system.

And this must be an overriding imperative of whoever becomes Prime Minister.

It would be a tragedy if we lost our competitive advantage by accident, through complacency or lack of decisive action where needed.

Learning the lessons of the financial crash

But listening must be a two-way process.

The City must also recognise the government’s broader obligations to society.

So just as I have sought to understand your concerns, I haven’t shied away from confronting the sector with uncomfortable truths either.

When I came into post in January 2018, I was struck by the extent to which the financial crash still cast a shadow over the City.

That’s why I’ve placed a significant portion of my time seeking to repair trust between consumers and the financial services sector…

…making it possible for small businesses to seek redress…

…and working with regulators to help free mortgage prisoners.

I know the great majority of institutions and firms within the Square Mile continue to work hard to rebuild consumer confidence.

But we can never go back to how things were, and we can never take people’s trust for granted again.

The key lesson for me has been the importance of striking the right balance between risk and regulation.

It’s not easy.

In fact, it’s probably the hardest part of being City Minister.

Occasionally I see a high profile commercial failure making headlines; inevitably it always generates calls for more regulation.

And it begs the question – how far do we go to keep the City safe?

Because my worry is that if you ratchet up the cost of regulation, you will drive our FinTechs and start-ups overseas, along with all the promise and opportunity they represent.

And I don’t believe you can have an enterprising, dynamic and competitive environment without a degree of risk.

Few great entrepreneurs follow a linear path. Risk is a spur for competition. It’s what pushes us forward.

My view is that so long as we guard against systemic risk – and safeguard consumers – we should do our utmost to create the space for enterprise and innovation to thrive.

Financial Inclusion

Safeguarding consumers leads me to the third point I want to raise.

If the financial crash and subsequent recovery taught me anything, it’s that the task of earning people’s faith in our financial system is an unending one.

People should be confident that the right products and services will be there for them at the key moments of their lives.

Those services also need to be there for the whole of society: for the elderly, the vulnerable, the young, and the less well-off.

Because if our financial system only works for the wealthy, or the comfortable, then it’s not really working at all.

The solution isn’t top-down legislation. Or government compelling lenders to act against their commercial instincts.

The solution is to ensure the market is big and broad enough to meet all the varied needs within society.

The financial choices that most of us probably take for granted must be available to people whatever their circumstances.

Consumers deserve the power and freedom to make the best choice of them and their family. With products and services that are affordable, appropriate and sustainable.

I think we can look back on significant progress in recent times…

…capping pay-day loans and rent-to-own schemes to protect the most vulnerable from being exploited…

… interventions on doorstep lending, catalogue credit and overdrafts…

…working to support and develop credit unions and community lenders and boost the supply of affordable credit…

…and launching an integrated Money and Pensions Service to provide joined-up guidance and support to consumers.

But we need to do more to build trust and restore a sense of fairness.

In the coming months, I will be working with community lenders to design a pilot scheme for no-interest loans, as well as ensure the success of the prize-linked savings scheme.

And I also look to mainstream financial services to play a greater role.

Banks in particular must realise that public expectations are growing.

And across the political spectrum, there is an appetite to find radical solutions to the challenges of affordability, inclusion and access.

So, for example, when the last bank closes in a community we expect the sector to find new ways to meet local needs, be it through a Post Office or perhaps even a Shared Banking Hub.

And as new technologies come to the fore – not least the advent of Open Banking – we have an obligation to ensure the benefits are felt across society, being accessible to all.

These issues won’t go away – government, industry and regulators must work cooperatively and intelligently to find solutions.

Skills and talent

And this brings me to the fourth and final thing I’ve learnt that I wish to highlight today, which is about the men and women who work in financial services.

The UK will never be able to compete with the likes of China or India when it comes to the size of our workforce.

Our strength is the quality and depth of expertise found within the financial services sector, in the Square Mile and across the country. It always has been, and it always will be.

So we need to ensure that the City continues to be a place where people are proud to work. Where they feel they are doing something worthwhile: not just making some people richer, but strengthening society and enabling all strata of society to have confidence in their future financial provision.

I believe that financial services can be a force for good –

I have seen how FinTech can help helping renters secure a mortgage – for example Credit Ladder and Bud who are helping people to get their rental payments recognised towards getting a mortgage – or support older people to enjoy their retirement.

And then there’s London’s emerging position as a global centre for green and sustainable finance.

It gives us the means to transition to a low carbon economy without turning the clock back.

Turning the challenge of climate change into a spur for technological, economic and social progress.

The Prime Minister’s commitment to achieve zero net emissions by 2050 only makes us more determined.

It brings the work Sir Roger Gifford and others have been doing to establish the Green Finance Institute into focus.

And it adds new impetus to the government’s own Green Finance Strategy, which will be published very shortly.

Green Finance is just one example. I could equally have mentioned Islamic Finance. Or Cyber-Insurance. Or Insurance-Linked Securities.

All of these opportunities play to the City’s strengths.

As we step out from the EU, I believe our country still has what it takes to tread a bold and confident path in the world.

But this will only be possible if our immigration system enables the City to access the global talent it needs to innovate and grow.

You’ve told me this time-and-again: and I will continue to press your case in Whitehall.

In return, I challenge you to ensure financial services remains a career that will take people as far as their talents will allow.

This means redoubling your efforts to increase the number of women in senior management roles across the sector.

More than 300 organisations, collectively employing over 800,000 employees, have already signed the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter.

But warm words are not enough – meaningful and sustained leadership at all levels within firms is required to bring about lasting change.

Not just for women, but for all employees, whoever they are and wherever they’ve come from.

Conclusion

Let me draw to a close.

Over the past 17 months, I’ve sought to be a strong voice for financial services in government.

Standing up for your contribution to our economy.

Working to help secure and sustain London’s place at the centre of the global financial system.

And helping to open new markets of the future to UK businesses.

In this job, I’ve travelled to Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Italy, Portugal, Austria and Sweden.

In the past month, we held the second UK-US Financial Regulatory Working Group.

And in the last few weeks, I’ve welcomed delegations from Hong Kong and China – the latter just this Monday.

In all my conversations with our global friends there is a recurrent view.

While there are many other European financial hubs, each with their individual strengths, none of them can match all that London has to offer.

And if they believe in our future, then so should we.

Everything I have seen in the past 17 months gives me reason to be confident.

The path ahead is clear.

Together, we must continue to find that all-important balance between risk and regulation.

Together, we must work to ensure the economy addresses the varied needs of our changing society.

And together, we must nurture and access efficiently the markets of the future, not least by remaining open to the best in global talent and skill.

If we do all these things well, we cannot fail to succeed.

Thank you for the privilege to be able to speak today and to serve you in government.

John Glen – 2019 Speech at RMB Global Cities Dialogue

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, to the RMB Global Cities Dialogue on 18 June 2019.

It’s a pleasure to be asked to say a few words about the opportunities that lie ahead for RMB as a global currency.

But first I think it’s worth spending a moment taking stock of this wonderful building and its surroundings.

The Roman foundations beneath us – a temple to the Persian god Mithras – remind us that London has always been a bridging point between different cultures; open to people and ideas from across the world.

The majestic views of St Paul’s reflect the City’s resilience. Over the centuries, the Square Mile has endured peace and war, fire and plague, boom and bust, each time emerging stronger than before.

And with its striking combination of sandstone and glass – and its energy efficient design – Bloomberg’s new headquarters is a sign of the innovation and ambition that characterise the City today.

Openness, resilience, innovation…these are the time-honoured qualities that make London a leading centre for financial services.

These same strengths are accelerating us toward a position of leadership across the markets of the future, from FinTech and cyber-insurance to Islamic finance and green investment.

And our growing partnership with China is absolutely part of the City’s ambitions for the future too.

The RMB Opportunity

In his visit to Beijing in April, the Chancellor, Phillip Hammond, spoke of the UK as the natural economic partner for China.

He outlined how we have the legal and technical expertise, and the capacity in our capital markets, to help deliver the Belt and Road Initiative.

In the same way, my message to you today is that we also have the transformative strengths that are necessary to help RMB fulfil its potential to be a leading currency in the global market.

Because despite China’s incredible growth in recent times, we have yet to see an equally dramatic use of RMB.

RMB is only the 5th most used payments currency globally, sitting at just under 2% of the global total, as opposed to the US dollar at around 40%.

But this is now changing.

In 2016, we saw the addition of RMB to the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. Since then, many countries have added the RMB to their mix of reserve currencies, including the UK.

The increasing use of RMB in trade has helped to popularise the currency, and initiatives like the Greater Bay Area and the Belt and Road are likely to further this trend.

The inclusion of RMB products in global indices is boosting opportunities for global investors and increasing exposure to the China market. This recognises the strides China has made in terms of market opening and transparency.

Here in London, we approach this opportunity from a position of strength.

The UK has been at the forefront of supporting Chinese efforts to open their markets over many years.

London is already home to the world’s largest foreign exchange market and is the leading RMB trading and investment centre outside of China.

Around 36% of RMB transactions are carried out in the UK, compared with about 6% each in France and Singapore – and we’re even ahead of Hong Kong.

The UK has also been home to many ‘firsts’ in RMB products.

In 2012, HSBC issued the first RMB-denominated bond outside of Greater China, and they chose to do it here in London.

In 2014, IFC issued the first RMB-denominated green bond: again, it was here in London.

And in the same year, the UK government issued an RMB 3 billion sovereign Dim Sum Bond, becoming the first western country to do so.

The UK market monitoring group, a partnership between the City of London and People’s Bank of China, is now tracking these developments.

Their publication – the London RMB Business Quarterly – contributes to our understanding of the London offshore RMB market, providing recent data, policies and commentaries from market participants.

And it gives investors a way of keeping their finger on the pulse.

Next Steps

It was my enormous privilege to welcome Vice Premier Hu Chunhua to the UK for yesterday’s Economic and Financial Dialogue.

This was the 10th such dialogue between our two countries. Through this enduring relationship we have sought to maintain London’s position as a centre for RMB trading and investment, and further our shared efforts to tap its potential.

Yesterday morning, I was pleased to join the Chancellor at the London Stock Exchange to witness the launch of the new London-Shanghai Stock Connect, which included the start of trading in Huatai Securities.

This initiative links the UK and Chinese markets together and means that, for the first time, any foreign company will be able to list in mainland China.

It is also the first time that international investors will be able to access China A-shares from outside of Greater China, and through international trading and settlement practices.

And it is the first time that investors will be able to trade across London and Chinese time zones.

Together, our two countries are now looking to deepen and broaden this connectivity.

Yesterday the EFD announced that the UK and China will accelerate plans to explore a UK-China Bond Connect.

We also secured agreement from the Chinese to undertake a feasibility study into extending their trading hours to help facilitate bond trading across our time zones.

I am confident that the London market will play its part by continuing to foster innovation in RMB products and services, and support the continued internationalisation of the currency.

Reform and openness

It will be important to see continued developments in China’s financial reform and openness too.

China has made great progress in recent years.

Following announcements in 2017 to deepen access to China’s financial markets for foreign investors, an important set of measures have been released.

This includes the removal of restrictions on ownership stakes, together with onerous regulatory requirements.

In securities and mutual-fund management joint ventures, foreign firms are now able to take 51% stakes, with the promise of full control by 2020.

In insurance, foreign companies can now also take 51% stakes in joint ventures and onerous requirements on operating history have similarly been removed.

And encouragingly China has promised further opening to come, along with continued progress on exchange rate reform and capital account convertibility.

The UK welcomes these breakthroughs and supports their continued implementation to enable greater foreign participation.

Conclusion

Let me draw this together.

The man behind this building and so many others in the City, Norman Foster, once said that it would be impossible to be an architect without also being an optimist.

And today, we too have good reason to be optimistic.

As the internationalisation of RMB progresses, we can build on solid foundations.

London’s enduring qualities of resilience, innovation and openness are alive-and-kicking.

The City is already the leading destination for RMB trading and investment.

And with the tenth UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue successfully concluded, the path before us is now one of growing partnership and opportunity.

I look to the City to continue to bring your innovation and ambition to bear as the RMB market develops.

I have every confidence that we can unlock the potential that RMB represents.

And I look forward to working with you, and with our friends in China and around the world, to make this so.

Thank you.

John Glen – 2019 Speech on Women in Finance

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the Women in Finance Summit held on 6 June 2019.

It’s a pleasure to speak with you this morning on a subject that is right at the top of my priorities.

Women in Finance really is central to the success of UK financial services, and our prosperity more broadly.

Not because of social pressure or reputational risk – but to help us meet the challenges and opportunities of the global economy.

In the future, we will never be able to compete with the likes of China or India when it comes to raw numbers, or sheer financial and political clout.

The single most decisive factor in our success will be the expertise found within our workforce.

And if the UK is to remain a leading centre for global finance, then we cannot afford for people with talent and skill to pass the sector by.

Nor can we afford for experienced and capable individuals to be prevented from rising to the top.

I know many of you recognise this too.

As such, I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t repeat all the traditional arguments in favour of workplace diversity.

It might have been necessary 10 or 15 years ago; but this is 2019. One would hope that the benefits are plainly apparent across the industry – and certainly to this audience.

Nor do I intend to simply reel of the normal list of Government platitudes and policies as you might expect from a ministerial speaker.

You’ve already discussed the Treasury’s Women in Finance Charter in the previous session.

And many of the 330 organisations that have already signed-up are represented today.

Instead, I want to talk about how we can translate our shared commitment into meaningful, measurable, improvement.

As City Minister, I certainly hear all the right noises about diversity and inclusion.

Corporate leaders tell me they ‘get it’.

They have an action plan. They hold forums. They bring in experts.

And yet the gender pay gap in financial services remains the largest of any sector within our economy.

On average a woman earns 64 pence for every one pound earned by a man.

There is no great mystery behind this disparity. The simple fact is men are disproportionately represented in senior roles which naturally attract better salaries.

For all the noise and activity – for all the supposed commitment within the sector – there are still too few women reaching the top.

Is it because companies are choosing quick and superficial wins over long term cultural change?

Or perhaps they were only interested in window dressing in the first place?

I have certainly heard some horror stories in my time.

Reports of firms filling gender balanced shortlists but with no real intention of employing the women concerned.

Or creating new seats for women in the boardroom in roles that are peripheral or – worse – roles that set them up for failure.

These are anecdotal examples – one hopes they aren’t accurate.

But somehow the very public commitment to diversity and inclusion throughout the sector isn’t cutting through.

Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to visit the headquarters of Man Group.

It’s one of the firms that is making progress.

They’ve introduced a global parental leave policy. All new parents – men and women alike – are entitled to the same full pay and the same, extended, 18-week leave allowance.

I wanted to speak to a cross section of women who work there to understand their perspective more broadly.

I was particularly taken with the comments of one classics graduate who is now co-managing a billion-euro hedge fund.

She made the point that the perception that financial services is all about complex maths and spreadsheets can put people off. It doesn’t reflect many aspects and skills required for the job. Emotional intelligence also matters.

Alongside the requirement for hard quantitative analytical skills is the need to understand the complex inter-personal dynamics and culture of an organisation you might want to invest in.

This point about perception came up time-and-again during our conversations.

Take role models as an example.

We often look to CEOs and industry ‘big names’. But if they are so far removed from your own experience or career path, what impact can they really have on your aspirations?

People need realistic case studies. Role models with backgrounds they recognise. Attributes they can emulate.

And I think perception also plays an important part in answering why we’ve not seen more progress in achieving a greater gender balance across the sector.

There’s little point in having the right policies on parental leave, for example, if new mothers or fathers feel that taking their entitlement will harm their career.

Likewise, there’s little point in permitting flexible working if staff feel they’ll be poorly judged if they work at home.

Indeed, truly enlightened firms should be willing to publish the data to prove they practice what they preach.

And the most inclusive firms are those where managers lead by example.

Because if managers aren’t taking the leave they’re entitled to – or if they’re burning the midnight oil in the office night after night – is it any wonder if their staff feel obliged to do the same?

It’s clear that having the right policies isn’t enough by itself – the culture must be there too.

Of course, some countries have gone down the route of legislation.

In Sweden new mothers and fathers are obliged to take their entitlement of parental leave, and that’s been the case for several decades.

My instinct is that isn’t the right solution for the UK at present.

I’d much rather tap into the spirit of competition that exists within the sector by sharing best practice to inspire – or provoke – firms to do better.

And there are plenty of companies that are making progress toward their targets.

Lloyds has a leadership development programme which has seen women being promoted at a rate 5 times greater than the average across the firm.

Nationwide reviewed their maternity leave policy and consequently. designed a new returners programme to help ease mothers back into work.

And at PwC all staff, at every level, have diversity linked objectives against which their performance is assessed.

This kind of approach matters because everyone has a role to play in creating an inclusive culture.

Everyone is a leader of some sorts, even if it’s just by setting an example for others to follow.

And it’s important to hold people to this obligation – just as firms need to be held to account for the overall progress they make.

This leads us back to the Women in Finance Charter

The next annual review will begin over the summer.

And I will be taking a personal interest in the submissions we receive.

I don’t expect to see complete transformations overnight.

But I do expect to see signs that you are making headway.

Putting in place policies and programmes which will deliver consistent progress in the years to come.

Because signing the Charter is not a ‘tick in the box’ – it’s a solemn commitment to do what must be done to right this wrong.

So let me draw this together.

I’ve raised a few awkward questions today, but I make no apology for asking them – nor are they for me to answer.

Ultimately, the onus is on the sector to ask itself whether it is willing to translate warm words into the tough, tangible action which is necessary.

I’m proud to be your advocate.

Barely a day goes by when I don’t speak in Parliament or in public about the contribution that financial services make to our economy, or the potential it offers for the future.

I will always try to name firms that represent the best of the sector, as I have done today.

But nor will I shy away from highlighting where the sector is falling short; and where it needs to do more.

And the hard truth is we still have a long way to go.

So the time has come for real leadership.

No more gestures.

No more warm words.

Decisive action is required.

I must now return to Whitehall to prepare for a Parliamentary debate this afternoon.

But I would encourage you to take inspiration from one another’s achievements and from all you’ve heard today.

And to never lose sight of what we’re working toward.

A financial sector where no one is forced to choose between their family and their career.

A sector where anyone can succeed on the strengths of their talents alone.

A sector that is not only more open, but more resilient, more dynamic and more successful too.

John Glen – 2019 Speech at the Building Societies Association Annual Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 23 May 2019.

Thank you, Stephen [Stephen Mitcham, Chairman].

It’s a pleasure to be asked to speak at your Annual Conference, particularly in this 150th Anniversary year.

A century-and-a-half is quite an achievement for any organisation.

Throughout this time the Building Societies Association has been keeper of the flame, for the movement and its members.

Over the years you’ve weathered all sorts of economic storms and existential threats. In more recent times, you survived de-mutualisation in the 1990s and the Global Crash of 2008, and today you represent almost a quarter of the mortgage market.

And I think it’s worth taking a moment to consider why it is that the building society movement has endured.

In answering that question, it’s perhaps fitting if I start by quoting the man who was Prime Minister back at the time of your founding.

It was Benjamin Disraeli who said that “the secret of success is constancy of purpose.”

For all the changes we’ve seen in our society and our economy, the building society movement has remained true to its original values.

In 2019, as in 1869, building societies continue to put the interests of their members first.

They continue to be rooted in the communities they serve.

And they continue to ensure our financial service sector caters for everyone in our society.

This is borne out by the strength of the sector today, with more than 40 different organisations, serving 25 million members in 1,500 branches across the United Kingdom.

As I will explain in a moment, this diversity and competition in high street lending has never been more necessary than it is today.

But first I should also add a special word on credit unions.

It’s good to see so many represented here today, including BSA’s newest member, Scotwest.

I know how vital credit unions are to the people and communities you serve.

This was reflected in the Parliamentary debate I responded to on Tuesday this week, with many members from across the House speaking up for credit unions.

As some of you know, the government is developing a prize-linked savings scheme to encourage individual savers, and help raise awareness of credit unions more widely.

It’s a first step…because whether you can trace your pedigree back to 1869 or not, I want to see mutuals of all types prosper and grow.

I’d like to use my remarks to set out why I think it’s so vital that building societies and credit unions keep on innovating and adapting…

…so they can continue to apply their values and principles in a changing society.

Of course, given the changes we’ve seen over the past 150 years, who can predict with any certainty what the next 150 may bring?

Here in Westminster it’s difficult to see past next week…

And yet despite the short-term political uncertainty, I’m in no doubt of the forces that will shape the future of our financial sector.

I refer to the ‘three Ts’ – Trust, Technology and Talent.

Let’s take each of them in order, starting with Trust.

A decade on from the financial crash, I know how hard the sector has worked to rebuild public trust.

But the task of making our financial services work in a way that is sustainable and responsible is an unending one.

And we must never stop working to ensure our economy is sufficiently broad and inclusive to serve everyone in our society.

This challenge is particularly acute when you consider the demographic pressures we face as a country.

We have a generation of young people starting out in life, for whom the traditional expectations about job security, home ownership and pensions seem to be slipping further into the distance.

At the other end of the financial journey, we have more people living longer. One in 3 children born today will live to see their 100th Birthday, with all that entails in terms of financial security and social care.

Balancing the two is not easy – but balance them we must.

Because if we are to maintain people’s faith in our financial system, then it must evolve to serve their changing needs and expectations.

I know the building society movement is in the vanguard of these efforts.

Take housing.

In November, I was pleased to speak at the launch of BSA’s report on Intergenerational Mortgages.

I know that Saffron has launched a guarantor mortgage, while Marsden is the latest building society to offer a ‘joint borrower, sole proprietor’ mortgage.

These two schemes take into account the financial circumstances of family members in order to give first time buyers a leg up onto the property ladder.

I recently met the Ecology Building Society, which offers Green Mortgages for self-build properties and discounted borrowing for home improvements.

That’s another great example of how the mortgage market can respond to the needs of society, and of the generations to come.

As for retirement lending, it’s hugely encouraging to see regional building societies like Leeds, Nottingham and Loughborough offering retirement interest-only mortgages.

And we’re starting to see this on a national level, with Nationwide offering a retirement interest-only mortgage alongside traditional equity release and capital repayment products – all backed by a joined-up advice service.

These examples are proof that regulation and innovation are not mutually exclusive.

It is possible to be a responsible lender while remaining accessible to people at every stage of their financial lives.

And fresh thinking can transform even the most traditional areas of business.

The subject of fresh thinking naturally leads to the second ‘T’ – Technology.

You don’t need me to remind you of the extent to which technology is changing the market, particularly for high street lenders.

But the question is – Do we sit back and let technology do its work? Or do we seize the opportunity to meld and align this revolution in a way that works for society?

It probably won’t surprise you to hear me say I choose the second option.

Yes, technology can provide more sophisticated and more convenient services, to the benefit of customers and businesses alike.

But it’s true financial potential is to be found in being a catalyst for a smarter, more resilient and inclusive system.

And that requires us to come together, roll-up our sleeves and get to work.

First, to ensure that the benefits of technology can be harnessed across the sector, from the big national institutions to the smallest community cooperative.

And second, to ensure that the benefits are felt throughout society: not just the wealthy or comfortable, but those who struggle with complex financial circumstances.

I’m really pleased that you have Conference sessions planned for tomorrow under the theme of ‘Digital Mutual’.

Meanwhile, our Financial Inclusion Forum brings government, business and civil society together to help find new solutions.

Nationwide is one of the institutions that have picked up the baton.

It’s ‘Open Banking for Good’ Challenge offers £3 million to FinTech companies that can come up with new apps and services to help financially squeezed households in this country.

Fifty applications have been whittled down to 7 start-ups, which are now taking their ideas forward.

At a time when many see Open Banking solely through a commercial lens, this is a much-needed demonstration that it can offer a social purpose too.

The third and final ‘T’ is Talent.

The single most critical element in the future of financial services – and our wider economy – is the availability of skills in the sector.

We need people with the courage to think differently; the agility to move with the times; and the ambition to grasp the opportunities before us.

To find these people, we must look to society in all its breadth and diversity.

All the research shows that a more inclusive workforce is better for employees, better for businesses and better for customers.

But across the financial sector – including building societies – there are sadly too few women represented in senior leadership roles.

As some of you know, HM Treasury published the Women in Finance Charter three years ago.

It asked financial service companies to commit to greater representation of women in senior leadership roles in the near term, with the long-term goal of an equal gender balance.

BSA has shown real leadership by signing the charter.

It sends a signal to the rest of the sector that this is the right thing to do.

Twelve individual building societies have also signed up and I would encourage the 35 BSA members who haven’t yet done so to do likewise.

The next step for everyone is to turn that public commitment into tough, tangible, action.

I congratulate those who have met their first round of targets for increasing female representation in senior management this year –

…Capital Credit Union…and Leeds, Market Harborough, Nottingham, Progressive and West Bromwich Building Societies.

It’s good to see progress.

But we still have a long way to go.

And I do intend to hold your feet to the fire on this matter.

As a sector, you pride yourself on being locally-focused and community-minded.

In so many areas, your ethos is in line with public frustration and sentiment.

So, frankly, I find it difficult to understand why this matter should be any different.

Gender balance is a business imperative as well as a moral one.

It’s not about displacing current leaders – it’s about creating a talent pipeline by thinking about who you recruit and how you nurture them over the course of a career.

Because in a world that is increasingly global, increasingly competitive and increasingly digital, we simply cannot afford for people with the talent and skills we need to pass the sector by.

Nor can we afford for experienced and capable individuals to be prevented from rising to the top.

Let me begin to draw this together.

I’ve highlighted some of the ways the Building Societies Association is leading the sector to innovate and adapt.

Of course, there are plenty of other examples I could have chosen.

Like Yorkshire Building Society’s workplace saving scheme.

Or Nationwide’s not-for-profit house building programme.

Or Newcastle’s leadership in signing up to the alternative dormant assets scheme for smaller building societies and banks.

All of which represent the innovation that is found across the sector.

So my closing message to you today is to keep on doing all the things you do.

Keep on serving local communities.

Keep on bringing forward new ideas for greater collaboration – building trust, harnessing technology and sharpening talent.

And, most importantly, keep on putting people first.

Because like Disraeli said, constancy of purpose is the key to success.

So, to end, I’d like to congratulate the Building Societies Association for all that you have achieved, and all that you will achieve.

Because I have confidence that you have as much to contribute to our country in your next 150 years as you have in your first.

John Glen – 2019 Speech to Equifax Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 16 May 2019.

It’s a great pleasure to speak to you today.

Technology and innovation is one of the most exciting and uplifting parts of my brief as City Minister and that’s particularly true right now with the political situation.

The digital revolution rumbles on at breakneck speed, throwing up all sorts of interesting questions for the future of financial services…

How do we protect consumers and investors without stifling growth and enterprise?

How can technology help us balance the needs of an ageing population against the aspirations of young people?

And how do we ensure that the most vulnerable members of our society aren’t locked out of the opportunities or left behind by the pace of change?

Our answers to these questions, and others like them, will shape the strength and success of our economy every bit as much as Brexit, if not more so.

It’s not a job for government alone. Government can play a convening role; but it’s a shared effort with business and academia.

So the subject of today’s conference – Making Smart Decisions Together – is apt, and not just from a technological standpoint.

I congratulate Equifax for putting together a programme that’s open to the social as well as the financial opportunities that arise from the advent of Open Banking, Big Data and Artificial Intelligence.

What I’d like to do this morning is frame these discussions by outlining what the government is doing to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of innovation in these areas; and what we’re doing to help direct this technology towards the challenge of financial inclusion.

Throughout history, there have been moments when technology takes a great leap forward…

The invention of the World Wide Web – thirty years ago – was a case in point.

Tim Berners-Lee’s supervisor famously described his proposal as “vague but interesting”, which must surely be the understatement of the century.

Certainly, it has transformed the way we trade, bank, invest, borrow, pay and donate money, as well as how we work and communicate with one another.

And the UK has been right at the heart of this transformation.

In fairness, our geography helped.

Wall Street is 2,500 miles from Silicon Valley – but on this side of the pond, you can walk from the Square Mile to the Silicon Roundabout in about twenty minutes.

But, just as importantly, we had the connectivity and the skills necessary to flourish.

The global reach of the City of London – allied to our nationwide strengths in research and innovation – proved a truly winning combination.

Today, the UK is regularly voted the best place in the world to start and grow a FinTech business….

…ahead of New York.

…ahead of Paris.

…ahead of Hong Kong, Singapore and Shanghai.

Savour that for a moment… it’s a real tonic for those of us who believe Britain still has what it takes to tread a bold and ambitious path in the world.

We have something very precious indeed, and the government wants to do everything we can to nurture the formula behind our success.

We want our financial services sector to be the most competitive and innovative in the world.

One that continues to fuel jobs and growth, while delivering choice and value for customers.

And to achieve that ambition, we need to be ready to take advantage of the next great technological leaps as and when they arrive.

Open Banking is a case in point.

Two years ago, the Competition and Markets Authority published its ground-breaking Retail Market Investigation Order.

It requires the nine largest banks in the UK to build standardised systems, so customers can share their financial information with FinTech firms quickly and securely.

This has kick-started a transformation in retail banking.

In November last year, a beauty salon in Kent became the first small business to apply for a loan in the UK using Open Banking.

The lender, Iwoca, was able to use the customer’s banking transaction history to speed up the decision-making process – funds were released within an hour-and-a-half.

Likewise, M&S Bank is using Open Banking to simplify its mortgage application process: now the data is readily available, most customers are no longer required to provide traditional bank statements.

We can expect to see a growing number of new products and innovations appear as Open Banking gains traction.

But this is nothing compared to the possibilities of Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.

This data-driven revolution has already arrived – or at least, that’s what Alexa told me to say this morning.

Of course, Equifax is itself one of the pioneers.

Your patented NeuroDecision machine learning technology is paving the way for the use of advanced neural network modelling in credit scoring.

And whether it’s banks using chatbots to provide personalised customer services…

…investors drawing on big data analytics to make faster and more accurate market forecasts…

…or insurance companies employing algorithms to spot financial crime…

…no part of the sector will be left untouched.

The UK is currently ranked first in the Government (AI) Readiness Index, based on our ability to absorb and exploit the potential of this technology.

We’re already home to some of the most established names in the business, like Deepmind and Swiftkey.

But we’re also home to the rising stars…

Like Cleo, a London-based start-up which uses AI to analyse people’s spending habits to help them better manage their money. Founded in 2016, it now has 600,000 users across the UK and North America.

And Onfido, which uses photo recognition algorithms to help companies verify their customers using live images. Established by three Oxford University graduates, it now employs 200 people in five countries.

(PWC) predict that by 2030, (AI) could boost our national (GDP) by 10%.

But this £230-billion opportunity won’t come about by itself.

That’s why the government’s (AI) Sector Deal is bringing together almost £1 billion’s worth of contributions from government, industry and academia to unlock this potential.

Together, we’re seeking to attract the best and the brightest from around the world with our new Turing (AI) Fellowships…

And we’re investing in home-grown talent by creating more than 1,000 (AI) PhD and Masters places at universities across the country.

Meanwhile, our pioneering Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation seeks to ensure the benefits of this technology are felt evenly across our society.

This leads me to the crux of my message this morning.

Digital innovation can’t just be about providing wealthy people with sophisticated products and services.

If that’s all we achieve, then we will have failed to grasp the full potential of this technology.

Because the real opportunity before us is to bring about a stronger and more resilient financial sector – one that caters for everyone in our society.

I’m not trying to be all touchy-feely.

I’m a red-blooded capitalist. I believe in the power of markets to lift people out of poverty and drive our individual and collective prosperity.

But the hard truth is that a growing number of people feel like our economy doesn’t work for them, or their families.

I encounter examples at my constituency surgery every week.

Young people who can’t get on the housing ladder.

Single mums and dads struggling with the costs of pay-day loans and rent-to-own schemes.

Older people worrying about how to meet the cost of care without selling their home.

My view is simple.

Government and industry has an obligation to put this right, and to ensure everyone can access safe and affordable forms of credit that are appropriate to their needs.

For our part, the government is directing £55 million from dormant bank accounts to help address the supply of affordable credit.

This money will be arranged through a new independent organisation – Fair4All Finance – which will be fully operational in the autumn.

In terms of the role for business, the government doesn’t want to mandate firms to provide products and services…

Rather, we want to encourage lenders to think about how technology can help vulnerable individuals tell a more convincing story about their financial integrity, so they can access the normal financial choices that most of us take for granted.

Take housing as an example.

Many people who rent accommodation go on to face problems getting a mortgage because they have a low credit score.

In 2017 we launched the Rent Recognition Challenge to find a simple way to record and share rental payment data with lenders and credit reference agencies.

It was a ‘Dragons Den’ style competition, backed by a £2 million prize fund.

One of the three winners – Bud – is using its share of this money to build an artificial-intelligence driven rental recognition tool which automatically detects when an individual is paying rent and prompts them to get the payments verified.

It also takes advantage of Open Banking by allowing lenders to integrate this service into their apps, so people can use the data when they apply for a mortgage.

This for me is indicative of the real power of FinTech – products that deliver a social as well as a financial benefit.

Following on the success of the Rent Recognition Challenge, we are launching the Affordable Credit Challenge.

We want to create a whole new market of products to serve credit unions and other social lenders – ones that are tailored to the needs of this diverse sector and the communities they serve.

Applications open this summer, and I’m looking forward to seeing what ideas emerge.

Of course, these are just two examples.

Financial inclusion is a complex issue.

But as the digital revolution continues, I have faith that it will offer more and more solutions.

The only limit is whether we have the attitude, aptitude and ambition to make them most of the opportunity.

I’m optimistic that we have, because every time I attend events like this, I’m reminded that the dynamism and energy of our financial services sector is alive and kicking.

And I’m encouraged that together we can help tackle some of the great financial challenges of our time.

So I wish you every success in your discussions today.

And as we look to the growing opportunities for FinTech, let me assure you – the government is there to support you every step of the way.

John Glen – 2019 Speech to CityWeek

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 20 May 2019.

It’s a great privilege for me to deliver the opening remarks at this year’s City Week.

I think in ordinary circumstances, today would be a dream occasion for a Treasury minister.

Unemployment down, wages up, inflation steady.

Nine years of consecutive growth behind us. Five more to come.

The City’s traditional strengths in good health, with a trade surplus in financial services of more than £60 billion – the largest in the world.

FinTech flourishing; other new sectors taking root – in London and in the regions of the United Kingdom.

I suspect several of my predecessors would have sacrificed their first born for such a positive set of indicators…or if not a first born, then certainly a private secretary or two.

And yet there remains a stubborn shadow over an otherwise positive outlook.

You won’t be hearing rhetorical gymnastics from me today to try to disguise the fact that we are not where I’d hoped we’d be in terms of Brexit.

I know the City wants and frankly deserves certainty, and I’m sorry I can’t give you that today (Monday 20 May 2019).

But it’s absolutely right that the government continues to seek consensus for a deal that can command a majority in the House of Commons.

Yes, it’s a slow and frustrating process, but we’re a democracy;

As Churchill said, “the worst form of government – except for all the others”.

But the fact of the matter is we can’t allow the impasse in Parliament to hold the City back…

So this morning, I want to look beyond Brexit, and talk about the long-term opportunities that exist for the United Kingdom among the markets of the future.

That’s not to downplay your concerns.

But now that the danger of a cliff-edge exit in March has passed, we do have an opportunity to pause, step back and take stock.

Because the danger is that we become so drawn into the Brexit debate that we lose sight of where our real strengths and opportunities lie.

So, let us start by asking ourselves: where will the growth in demand for financial and professional services come from over the next decade?

Earlier this month, I welcomed my Hong Kong counterpart to London for the first UK-Hong Kong Financial Dialogue.

We agreed to deepen our cooperation on financial services, particularly in accessing China and Asia.

One of the initiatives we discussed was the Greater Bay Area.

The potential found along this stretch of coastline is astounding.

Eleven major cities.

70 million people.

Three of the world’s 10 largest container ports.

And a £1.5 trillion economy which is expected to double between now and 2025.

All within an area representing just 1% of China’s landmass.

Now it struck me that we often approach the opportunities of China’s growth as if it were comparable to a traditional economic partner, when we should in fact be thinking of it as the equivalent of 4 or 5 European-sized markets.

This is just the view in 2019.

What about 2030, when Africa has a larger working age population than China?

Or 2050, when Indonesia has displaced Germany as one of the world’s 5 largest economies; with Mexico, Turkey and Vietnam rapidly rising-up the ranks?

PwC predict that by 2050, the ‘E7’ countries will have a 46% share of global banking assets, whilst the G7’s share will shrink to just 30%.

This might seem a long time away, but in the grand sweep of history it really isn’t.

And while it’s important we establish our future regulatory relationship with the EU, the fact of the matter is London isn’t a European financial hub. It’s a global financial hub. And we must never forget that.

And if we’re serious about retaining London’s pre-eminent position, then we need to act now to strengthen the skills, the structures and the partnerships that will serve us in the decades ahead.

Because the energy and focus we devote to this task will shape our future prosperity every bit as much as Brexit, if not more so.

I know many of you are already focused on doing just that.

Last week, I had the pleasure to attend Aviva’s annual reception in Parliament, where I heard about their efforts to expand into Indonesia’s growing insurance market.

Everything I’ve seen in my time as City Minister gives me reason to be confident.

Because while Parliament has been deadlocked, the City has been moving forward; doing what you do best…

Embracing new ideas…

Exploring new markets…

Pursuing new opportunities…

Believe it or not, some of us in Westminster are trying to look to the world beyond Brexit too.

So what I’d like to do now is highlight four areas of activity where the government and the City are working together to unlock the long term global opportunity.

Green Finance

The first is Green Finance.

As many of you know, the UK is already leading the world in this fast-developing sector.

More than 100 green bonds have been listed in London to date, from 16 countries raising $26 billion.

And a host of new initiatives are gaining traction, including green loans, green mortgages and ESG exchange traded funds.

I want to do all that I can to maintain the momentum.

Our aim is to establish the UK as the undisputed global hub of green finance, with links to all the major markets.

Later this year, we will publish our Green Finance Strategy to put flesh on the bones of this growing ambition.

And the Green Finance Institute – which will be launched on 2 July – will put our plans into action, developing and communicating the UK’s strengths in this dynamic market.

I welcome the recent appointment of Dr Rhian-Mari Thomas as CEO, and under her leadership I have absolutely no doubt that the Institute will help drive the green finance agenda in this country and around the world.

FinTech

The second opportunity is FinTech.

Last month’s FinTech Week was a chance to reflect on progress since the government published our FinTech Sector Strategy.

Our five FinTech Bridges are up and running, linking our most promising start-ups with overseas markets.

The revolution in Open Banking is underway, heralding greater competition, innovation and choice than ever before.

And our regulatory sandbox has been widely admired – and much copied – all around the world.

Indeed, the FCA’s proposal to create a global sandbox has now found form in the Global Financial Innovation Network.

Operating since January, it’s looking at ways to enable firms to test products and services in multiple jurisdictions.

A UK company – Onfido – is among those selected for the pilot programme.

The very fact that the UK is front-and-centre of this work is testament to the global recognition of our FinTech strength.

And it shows what we can achieve when government and business come together around a comprehensive, long-term set of goals.

India

And where better to leverage our growing strengths in Green Finance and FinTech than in the world’s fastest growing economy?

India currently invests more in the UK than in the rest of the EU combined, and it’s the third area of opportunity I want to highlight this morning.

The UK is already India’s partner of choice for professional and financial services.

Last month saw the first ever Masala Bond issued by a sub-sovereign Indian entity…and they chose to do it here in London.

Now we are working to extend our partnership.

In February, the Green Growth Equity Fund invested over £150 million in Ayana Renewable Power; the first such investment by this new UK-India venture.

We expect the Fund to raise up to £500 million of international investment through the City of London to support sustainable energy initiatives on the sub-continent.

And in February, we launched the first UK-India Joint Working Group on FinTech, to identify mutual opportunities for our respective tech sectors.

Both these examples are indicative of the opportunities that exist for the UK when we nurture our long-term partnerships.

With that in mind, the government is very pleased to be co-hosting the Square Mile’s first ever India Day with the City of London Corporation on 16 July.

China

From India, our journey of opportunity and ambition continues eastwards, toward China, my fourth and final example.

I’ve mentioned the inaugural Hong Kong Financial Dialogue.

There was a real warmth and openness to our discussion that was obviously based on our shared history but, more importantly, the shared appreciation of the opportunities that exists to deepen cooperation between our two financial centres.

We were joined by 60 industry representatives to discuss how we can maximise the opportunities around RMB internationalisation, the Greater Bay Area Project and the Belt and Road.

Impressive as China’s growth has been over the past few decades, their experience of regulation, investment, project management and other areas is still maturing – which of course plays to the UK strengths.

As the Chancellor made clear during his recent visit to China, the UK is a ‘natural partner’ when it comes to Belt and Road.

A partner with the legal and technical expertise to support the design, development, contracting and delivery of major infrastructure projects.

And with the capacity in our capital markets to help finance them too.

Over the past decade we’ve established the UK as the leading financial services partner for China, and London as the leading global centre for RMB trading.

And next month, here in London, we will use the tenth annual Economic and Financial Dialogue between our two countries to deepen that relationship further still.

Global Financial Partnerships

So I’ve given you a brief flavour of some of the initiatives I’ve been involved with as City Minister…

Markets of the future…

Allied to the rising economies of the world…

And underpinned by the City’s time-honoured strengths…

We’re nearly half way through 2019 and the possibilities are coming thick and fast…

I highlighted India and China…but I could have just as easily chosen other examples.

This week the PM and Chancellor will meet with leading figures from financial and professional services to discuss how to ensure that the UK’s business environment remains one of the most competitive in the world for these sectors.

And when we leave the EU, we will pursue our Global Financial Partnerships Strategy…

…seeking deeper, enduring, open and ambitious relationships…

…making it easier for firms to do business with other markets around the world…

…cementing the City’s position as the global capital of finance…

…and shaping Britain’s place in the world for years to come.

Unfortunately, I must leave to prepare for two Westminster Hall Debates and Treasury Oral Questions later today.

But Katherine Braddick, HM Treasury’s Director General Financial Services, is here for the Panel Discussion.

Let me end by saying I know Brexit is frustrating. I hear your varied concerns. The government hears them too, and we will do all we can to ensure you have the assurances and continuity that you need.

But ultimately our success rests not on regulatory alignment or political agreements, critically important as they are.

Our success rests on the confidence and ambition that exists in this room.

You are the leaders and influencers within the Square Mile, and our economy at large.

Where you tread, others will follow.

So, I wish you every success for this week’s conference.

And as you chart the way forward, I will do everything within the power of my office to support you on your journey of global opportunity.

John Glen – 2019 Statement on Bilateral Loan for Ireland

Below is the text of the statement made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 24 April 2019.

I would like to update Parliament on the loan to Ireland.

In December 2010, the UK agreed to provide a bilateral loan of £3.2 billion as part of a €67.5 billion international assistance package for Ireland. The loan was disbursed in eight tranches. The final tranche was drawn down on 26 September 2013. Ireland has made interest payments on the loan every six months since the first disbursement.

On 15 April, in line with the agreed repayment schedule, HM Treasury received a total payment of £407,843,097.02 from Ireland. This comprises the repayment of £403,370,000 in principal and £4,473,097.02 in accrued interest.

As required under the Loans to Ireland Act 2010, HM Treasury laid a statutory report to Parliament on 1 April covering the period from 1 October to 31 March 2019. The report set out details of future payments up to the final repayment on 26 March 2021. The Government continue to expect the loan to be repaid in full and on time.

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/791132/Ireland_loan_statutory_report_April_2019_web.pdf

The next statutory report will cover the period from 1 April to 30 September 2019. HM Treasury will report fully on all repayments received during this period in the report.

John Glen – 2019 Speech at the Wealth of Diversity Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, on 5 February 2019.

Charles Babbage, the computer pioneer asked the following question in 1864: “if you put into the machine the wrong figures, will the right answers come out?”.

Nearly 150 years later, this question is still being answered.

By companies and industries of all shapes and sizes.

Take the next frontier of commerce: Artificial Intelligence, the next innovation set to transform financial services.

I was interested to learn that sophisticated programmes which employ AI operate much as we do as humans.

For example, AI is increasingly being shown to produce similar biases to those in the workplace.

A 2015 study showed that in a Google images search for “CEO”, just 11% of the people it displayed were women – even though 27% of the chief executives in the US are female.

The world’s major technology companies are starting to recognise that machines learn from the input they receive – and the results that this input generates.

Despite great intentions, seemingly subtle actions and moments can really entrench toxic or biased cultures.

And in this vein, I want to extend a huge thank you to PIMFA – Liz and her team are doing a lot of work to push the need for diversity to the top of commercial agenda.

Today I wish to speak to you about the business case for diversity and inclusion…

…and give my two cents on the best way to get there.

And the first step is welcoming diversity…as a matter of principle – and profit.

We need an inclusive workforce for many reasons – and ethics is but one of those reasons.

It is simply the right thing to do and to expect.

And it is a hallmark of a civilised society.

Ethics aside, there is more than anything, a strong commercial case for real diversity.

Diversity of thought leads to better outcomes…

…a happier workforce…

…reflects shareholder values…

…and is increasingly attractive to investors.

A report by the CBI in 2016 concluded that diverse workplaces generate innovation and greater employee engagement…

…employees said that they’re 84% more likely to innovate and more than twice as engaged in workplaces that are diverse and inclusive.

And research by Forbes in 2017 found that inclusive teams make better business decisions than less diverse teams up to 87% of the time.

McKinsey, the management consultant, has released research showing that closing the UK’s gender gap could create an additional £150 billion on top of business-as-usual GDP forecasts for 2025.

Diversity – and inclusion – challenges group think, it strengthens an organisation from within – and, it gives you competitive advantage.

The business case is irrefutable. And I know that you know that. That’s why you’re all here today. So I don’t want to spend my time here today convincing you why this matters – I want to focus on what needs to be done.

Despite the strong commercial argument, Jayne-Anne Gadhia’s [the former CEO of Virgin Money] 2016 review into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in the financial services industry was revealing.

One of the key findings from the report was that women make up just 14% of Executive Committees…

…25% of the firms included in the review had no women at all on their Executive Committee…

…and 17% had no women on their board.

The Treasury decided to take action and in 2016 launched the Women in Finance Charter.

And I’m pleased to say that the Charter has been an enormous success – I am delighted with the impact it has had…

…both in terms of driving the debate…

…and in giving firms a framework to set targets, and then develop and implement a plan.

300 financial services firms have signed the Charter who together employ over 780,000 people…

…close to 60% of the sector.

It includes everyone from global banks to FinTech firms with just a few employees.

We have also inspired other countries, like Brazil and China, to take action on improving gender balance, through their own Women in Finance Charters.

The Financial Reporting Council’s review of board diversity reporting, published in September 2018, found that Charter signatories had a higher diversity reporting score than other FTSE 350 companies.

And I’ve seen the impact the Charter can have within my own department. HM Treasury has set a target to increase the representation of women in the Senior Civil Service to 50% by 2020. In 2017 39 out of the 87 people in the Senior Civil Service were women, equating to 43%. This has now risen to 48.2%, and we are committed to building on this progress.

As we have now generated a large amount of industry support for the Charter, the focus has shifted to maximising its impact…

…by pushing ourselves to set and achieve more stretching targets through the use of evidence-based interventions.

I’m delighted that so many organisations have signed up to the Charter, which demonstrates the enthusiasm across the industry to solve this issue.

But for me the real measure of success is not just the number of organisations who sign up – I want to see firms taking this seriously and taking meaningful action, so we see a real shift towards gender parity.

The second Women in Finance Charter Annual Review will be published in March this year, where signatories to the Charter will provide updates on their progress. I will be looking at these updates closely, to assess whether firms have made sufficient progress and are taking appropriately ambitious action. And I will be using this to inform Government action going forward.

To have a real impact, it is important that we focus on what works, delivering interventions collaboratively and with a collective voice that promotes the progression of women.

Across the whole spectrum of the debate, it is clear that evidence-based interventions to bring about the step change is needed, as progress is slow.

Firms should make a habit of learning from one another, measuring their impact, and self-evaluating.

I am pleased that when I talk to senior leaders in the finance world, diversity and inclusion is increasingly an important issue for them.

Everyone has a role to play in creating a more equal working culture. And so I challenge everyone in this room to think about what you can do to drive change in your own organisation.

If you are responsible for recruiting or promoting people, ask yourself –

Could this job be done by someone working part-time, or someone working flexibly, or someone who is returning to work after taking time out?

Are you using skills-based assessment or structured interviews, so that your decisions are driven by what candidates can really do, rather than a sense of whether they will ‘fit’?

Have you included more than one woman on your shortlist?

If you are a senior leader, ask yourself –

Does your organisation know that you are committed to improving diversity?
How are you communicating this, and how are you holding your team accountable? Are you treating this like any other business priority?
Look at who you mentor and sponsor – does this reflect the widest pool of talent in your organisation?

And whatever your role, ask yourself:

Do you support and encourage difference in your team?

Can you be a role model for someone else?

And I put to everyone the same question I put to senior leaders – does your organisation know you care about this and how are you holding them accountable?

On that note, let me wrap up my remarks this morning.

Ladies and gentlemen – simply, a wealth of diversity will lead to a wealth of outcomes.

The business case is irrefutable…

…getting there is the hard part.

Which is why I want us all, government and industry alike, to focus on action which will drive change – I don’t want us to be having this same discussion in five years.

I hope that you can put the sessions today to good use…

…and that they can be a starting point for pushing the agenda across the industry.

Because although it is a tough discussion…

…it is one that we need to have…

…and it is an issue worthy of no less than national attention.

Thank you very much.

John Glen – 2018 Statement on Justice and Home Affairs Opt-in Decision

Below is the text of the statement made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in the House of Commons on 2 July 2018.

The proposed EU directive on credit purchasers, credit servicers and the recovery of collateral contains, among other things, provisions on a new EU mechanism for out-of-court collateral enforcement. The directive is part of a broader package of EU measures designed to reduce the levels of non-performing loans (NPLs) in the EU, as NPLs decrease profitability of banks, often leaving them in a weak position from which to provide finance to the wider economy in support of growth and jobs.

The Government have decided that it is in the UK’s interest not to opt in to the Justice and Home Affairs obligations within this directive as the provisions introduce an unnecessary level of administration to the UK’s existing collateral enforcement mechanisms, which are sufficiently robust and fit for purpose.

The directive states that where member states establish collateral enforcement mechanisms “by means of appropriation”, the rights of creditors “shall be governed by the applicable laws in each member state”. The Government’s view is that this provision addresses situations in which conflicts of laws points arise, in which case it is an applicable law provision and therefore includes JHA content.

The directive similarly governs applicable law if a borrower and lender from two different EU member states cannot agree on the appointment of a valuer—with the appointment of the valuer falling on the court within one of those member states.

The Government remain supportive of the European Commission’s broader efforts to reduce levels of NPLs in the EU, supporting solutions that are proportionate and targeted.

John Glen – 2018 Speech at Green Finance Summit

Below is the text of the speech made by John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, at the Green Finance Summit on 17 July 2018.

I’m delighted to address you all this morning for the second annual Green Finance Summit.

Ladies and gentleman – no one doubts the strength of the public will to fight climate change.

In such a time of friction and division, it comforts me to know this cause unifies our country across party political lines…

…as it continues to stand as one of the greatest challenges of our age.

How we manage our relationship with our oldest partner – the natural world – will be the test of our times.

As we know, up until recently, government and philanthropy have driven the debate and funded the growth of green finance.

But there is only so far that this approach can take us….

We have witnessed over the past 25 years a deeper – and genuine – engagement by the private sector in green finance…

…through the development of sophisticated financial instruments…

…and innovations to mobilise green capital.

All of this has helped propel the UK to the forefront of the global green finance market…

…with almost $25 billion of green bonds listed in London in seven currencies…

During my tenure as Economic Secretary to the Treasury, I am determined to push this agenda…

…for responsible capitalism…

…and for leveraging market forces to tackle the challenges we face as a collective.

Today I want to speak to you about three things.

Firstly – to take stock of how we arrived at the status quo.

Secondly – my vision for the future of green finance – one that is sustainable, mainstream, and culturally embedded.

Finally – how the work of the recently announced Green Finance Institute will be crucial in achieving this vision.

While I understand that there may be an increased number of political cynics in the room – which is not necessarily surprising given current events…

…I want to reassure you that this government’s commitment to stimulating a robust environment for green finance…

…is not mere political pageantry or a passing fad.

I am proud that the UK was at the forefront of setting a legislative mandate for combatting this challenge through the 2008 Climate Act.

But for too long, tackling climate change has been left to government, with the private sector largely left by the wayside…

…and as a believer in the sanctity of the free market…

…I am glad to see it taking a long-awaited place at the table…

…rising to meet the burgeoning appetite of markets and investors…

…to embrace green finance and responsible investing.

But green finance has yet to reach its full potential…

…as I believe it is largely untapped.

The conversation has been dominated by a few specific areas, such as green bonds.

And whilst there will always be a place for them, more lies further afield…

…in the breadth, and depth of global capital markets.

New instruments are gaining traction.

Take green loans, now accessible to a greater range of entities, and the emerging green mortgage market.

And the capacity for green securitisation is enormous.

It unlocks institutional investor capital to smaller projects that otherwise would be excluded from accessing capital.

Green funds are emerging from the fray with retail funds in particular becoming more engaged.

And of course this is being led, as ever, by a growing investor and consumer appetite.

A recent survey by Eon found 54% of UK consumers would definitely consider taking out a green loan to fund home energy efficiency improvements, with nearly a fifth citing energy efficiency as the most important factor when choosing a property.

A 2017 survey by Morgan Stanley’s Institute for Sustainable Investing found that 86% of millennials are interested in sustainable investing.

Such demand will no doubt see an increasing number of asset managers and lenders broadening their offer on green products.

The figures will speak for themselves: at the end of 2017, only 17% of Europe’s sustainable investment funds were categorised with an environmental focus.

By the end of this year, we expect this number to have risen substantially, along with increased allocations of investments dedicated to fighting climate change.

As the needle shifts from fringe to mainstream, from curiosity to permanent action…

…I think we will continue to see a growth in product offering.

We may have solved the financing needs of the Paris agreement, but we are not here to discuss this today.

We are here to discuss how much further we need to go.

My vision for the next twelve months and beyond is an explosion of the momentum …

… to the point where ‘green finance’ becomes simply – ‘finance’.

We are seeing this happen.

For example, most of the top European insurers are committed to divesting from coal – pulling out a staggering USD 20 billion of investment.

Long-term climate change risks have been pushing pension funds to take action on their investment choices.

And the global green bond market continues to exceed expectations – the market is up 78% on 2016 to reach $155 billion of issuances.

Just yesterday I celebrated the largest green bond listing on the London Stock Exchange, of $1.58 billion, by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the world’s largest bank.

While green and sustainable equity capital raised at the London Stock Exchange rose at a rate of 197% year-on-year.

And the Green Finance Taskforce, members of whom I welcome today, published a landmark report in March to help set the trajectory for UK green finance policy.

I want to quote a line from the report which I think cuts to the nub of the issue:

“the sheer scale of capital required dictates that this cannot be driven through either public or private sectors working alone…we need an international alignment of interests, incentives and policies”.

The momentous challenge facing us all requires a fundamental change of thinking…

…keep our ambitions limited to short-termism…

…or seek to hit targets or arbitrary timelines.

It is incumbent that whilst aiming for tangible results…

…we support an organic shift in the rationale of the market.

It is not enough that markets simply react to investor appetites.

A sustainable and long-term shift in mindset needs to happen…

…and the market needs to realise green finance is critical for long-term strategies.

This cultural pivot must happen at an institutional level – and it is already in train.

Because there is no doubting that the social impetus to transition to a low-carbon economy is there.

The whole market must now be brought along in parallel.

This calls for collaborative action…

…between governments, between public and private, and between sectors of our economy.

We have already seen so many successful advancements in this regard…

…from Barclay’s new green mortgage, offering consumers finance that aligns with their values…

… to international central banks forming a network to “green” the global financial system.

Executed well, green finance will not only help achieve our climate targets…

…but support long term economic resilience…

…and ensure the continued vitality and relevance of financial services.

Which is why the Chancellor’s announcement last month of the new Green Finance Institute is so important.

As he set out at Mansion House, we are working with the City of London to fund a permanent centre to champion green and sustainable finance.

The Institute will capitalise on the UK’s inherent strength: a magnet for capital and expertise.

My goal for this new venture is fourfold:

One – to provide strengthened purpose and branding to UK green finance.

The Institute will stand as a quality mark, a sign of the UK’s green finance expertise under one unified brand.

Two – to demonstrate our international leadership.

We already lead the world in this market, from attracting over $24 billion in international green bonds, to ensuring we remain partner of choice on green finance for some of the world’s biggest economies.

Three – driving innovation

As I set out earlier, it is not enough to live on the successes of the past…

… in order to ensure this market continues to grow, we must keep innovating.

Building on such strengths as FinTech and local currency finance.

And finally – setting the future agenda

The Institute will be a focal point for government-industry collaboration, working together to open up to new markets and drive forward future policy.

That’s why this morning I’m delighted to announce the City of London are establishing an Advisory Board to set out the shape and strategy of the Institute…

…which will be chaired by, Sir Roger Gifford…

…who brings his extensive experience in green finance to the role.

Members of the Board will be drawn from our domestic firms, as well as international financial leaders..

Because it’s not enough for the UK to lead…

… we need to make sure we’re taking everyone along with us…

…as we explore the opportunities this country voted to explore as Global Britain.

To conclude this morning., I want to share a quote with you:

“The…benefit of knowledge obliges you to act ethically. Complacency is not illegal, though it may be equally disastrous”.

Here was Churchill – speaking of the threats faced by Britain and the world in 1940 by a different kind of enemy.

From his immortal oratory, I couldn’t help but draw an analogy with the threat we now face.

We all know too much about what faces us – and responsibility is the natural corollary.

I am reassured by the ambition…

…of government – as a steward of the environment…

…and of a body politic – committed to the climate.

But it is by reaching for the invisible hand of the market…

…that green finance can endure…

…and sustain itself for the benefit of the collective good.

Thank you very much indeed.