Britain says financial services law heralds nimble new era

2 minute read

A Union flag flutters near the Houses of Parliament in London, Britain, March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

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LONDON, June 30 (Reuters) - Britain's forthcoming draft financial services law will reset the sector after Brexit and sharpen its international appeal with a competitiveness goal for regulators, UK financial services minister John Glen said on Thursday.

Britain's 260 billion pound ($317 billion) financial services sector was largely cut off from the European Union after Brexit, leaving the government under pressure to boost London's appeal.

A draft law is expected in July to lay out reforms to insurance and capital markets.

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"I am confident that this framework, this legislative platform, will be the start of a new era for financial services in the UK," Glen told TheCityUK's annual conference.

Glen said that regulators will have a goal to aid the sector's competitiveness, which critics have said could bring a return of the so-called light-touch era that ended with banks being bailed out.

Glen, however, said global norms will be respected.

"It is time to put to bed the idea that the EU will have grounds to deny the UK accesss because of our poor regulatory standards," he said.

Some in the audience also backed the competitiveness target, including Rachel Reeves, shadow finance minister for Britain's opposition Labour Party.

"We need to make sure our sector is moving with the times," Reeves said.

Sarah Pritchard, the FCA's executive director for markets, told the conference competitiveness did not need to be incompatible with strong oversight.

"A secondary objective of competitiveness does not contradict our primary objectives to protect consumers, promote market integrity and promote competition in the interests of consumers," she said.

Peter Rutland, managing partner at CVC Capital Partners, said a change of culture was needed among regulators who take too long to respond to requests from companies, and ask irrelevant questions.

"It's a sort of cover one's back type of mentality, which just then feeds into this lack of confidence our sector has, it becomes a bit of a vicious cycle and we need to get out of it," Rutland said.

($1 = 0.8232 pounds)

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Reporting by Huw Jones Editing by David Goodman and Barbara Lewis

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