Craig O’Kane

Director, FDI & Capital Investment (Aus & NZ), Department for International Trade

Guest blogger for UK in Australia

Part of UK in Australia

1st March 2018 Canberra, Australia

He’s not Sadiq Khan, nor Boris, so who exactly is London’s 690th Lord Mayor?

The Lord Mayor of London

Alderman Charles Bowman was elected and sworn in as the Lord Mayor of London on 10th November 2017 for the term of one-year. During his tenure the Lord Mayor will represent the City of London, often referred to as the ‘Square Mile’. This is the engine room of the UK economy, a small area but one which is so concentrated it welcomes 300,000 professionals and workers into its district every weekday. More broadly, as head of ‘the City’, the Rt Hon The Lord Mayor is in fact the international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector. A sector which employs 2.2 million people in the UK, two-thirds of which are outside London.

I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last week or so with the Lord Mayor, who has been visiting Australia and New Zealand. It’s been a jam-packed visit too, with scores of business engagements, networking, strategic dialogues and business deals to boot. The Lord Mayor visited Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and Auckland with each city offering different opportunities including in Fintech, Cyber, Asset Management and Green Finance. Capitalising on the visit, the Lord Mayor brought a business delegation of 14 senior people with him who joined many of his engagements. The business delegation pitched their value to stakeholders and investors, broadened their understanding of the Australian and New Zealand markets as well as signed new contracts. It’s a proven method that works well.

And although some Kiwis and Aussies might wonder what relevance the 690th Lord Mayor has in today’s modern world, it is a role, as I discovered over the past week, which is more relevant and important than ever. This is particularly true given the City’s and more accurately, Britain’s, move toward being a more outward facing global trading nation as it prepares to leave the EU on 29th March 2019.

Importantly, this Lord Mayor also gets a seat at the table with more global banks, more global companies and more professional services firms than any other. He has the ear of the Chancellor of the Exchequer and can ‘call’ on industry experts, trusted advisors, emerging leaders, and policy academics. I saw this first hand because the Lord Mayor had asked Alastair Lukies, the Prime Minister’s Business Ambassador for Financial Services to join his delegation. You may have been lucky enough yourself to hear Alastair Lukies comment on The City’s clusters of creative tech, the £6.8bn of capital raised by UK tech businesses in 2016, or the future ‘Fintech Bridge’ announced by the Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison in October last year that he and others at the UK Treasury have been working on with their Australian counterparts. The Fintech Bridge, which will have ‘mutual recognition’ at its heart, will allow for close co-operation between Australia and the UK in the fintech sector, and include allowing Australian fintech companies to test their business concepts in the regulatory “sandbox” set up by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority. Lukies’ describes the Fintech Bridge as a facility for Australian fintechs to build their companies, not for a 24.5 million person market but one for nearly 100 million people.

The Lord Mayor with the Australian Treasurer

Alderman Charles Bowman’s visit to Australia and New Zealand was warmly welcomed. The City of London’s own research report has also identified that the opportunities for British companies to do business with those in Australia and New Zealand are abundant. Demonstrated by the deals inked by GoCardless, Janus Henderson, Global Processing Services, digime and DarkTrace. And in the other direction, Aussies and Kiwis see the UK as the natural first step for business expansion, taking advantage of probity and rule of law, history, culture, education, regulation, tax, innovation, talent, infrastructure, time zone, language, and as the Lord Mayor unashamedly beamed, “a great place to live and work, although I do wish we could borrow some of your sunshine”.

If you’re interested in understanding the potential in the UK for your business, The Australian British Chamber of Commerce will travel to the UK on 2-5 July 2018 with a Fintech and Cyber trade delegation. To find out about how you can attend and whether you may qualify for a sponsored space, follow the link here.

If you’re an Australian business looking to expand to the UK or partner with UK expertise to deliver products and services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the UK Department for International Trade teams based at our British Consulates in Australia and New Zealand. And, if you are in London and would like to engage with the Lord Mayor, we can also help put you in touch or you can contact Mansion House directly.