13th November 2015

Winning the Global Race

The competitiveness of the UK as a centre for international banking


In late 2014, the BBA began discussing the UK’s competitiveness as an international banking centre with its members and with stakeholders within government and regulatory bodies. It became clear that there was a widespread interest in developing a strategy to safeguard the position of the UK as a leading international banking centre, hosting foreign banks and UK-headquartered wholesale banks.

The consultancy Oliver Wyman agreed to support this initiative and has been working with the BBA throughout 2015. This document reports the findings of this work. It draws on a volume of existing BBA work, extensive new research on the state of the banking sector in the UK and a survey of BBA members carried out in summer 2015. Oliver Wyman and the BBA also interviewed a large number of regulatory experts, senior bankers and other stakeholders to gain their perspectives on the issues and actions that could be taken.

The scope of this work is aligned with the mandate and expertise of the BBA. We address only the banking industry and not wider financial services. Our recommendations focus on policy-driven factors of competitiveness and not broader structural and business factors such as transportation or legal framework. Additionally, as this work concerns the competitiveness of the UK relative to other jurisdictions, we do not address common global trends, policy or standards. For example, we consider the domestic and EU application of supranational banking standards not the standards themselves. Similarly, the report focuses on wholesale banking, which is more internationally portable. Retail banking is not examined in depth.

The remainder of this report outlines our conclusions and is structured around four sections. Our detailed recommendations are given in Section 4. Before giving them, however, the context needs to be better understood. In Section 1 we explain the value to the UK of its banking sector, and of international banking within it. Section 2 examines the evolution of international banking centres and expected drivers of future success. The key threats to the UK’s competitiveness are identified in section 3.

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