Britain’s Labour courts financiers: give us your ideas for growth

By Huw Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour party, tipped in the polls to win a general election next year, courted the City of London financial industry on Tuesday, telling asset managers to come forward with growth-boosting ideas for Labour’s election manifesto.

The City – “perhaps Britain’s greatest asset” – would be a partner in delivering investments in clean industries, Tulip Siddiq, Labour’s financial services spokesperson, told a conference of the Investment Association asset management trade group.

It was the party’s latest attempt to reassure the financial sector there would be no major regulatory upheavals under a Labour government.

Britain is expected to hold a general election next year with Labour polling ahead of the governing Conservatives. Parties will begin unveiling election platforms at annual conferences later this year.

“We actually want to speak to stakeholders and policymakers on the ground to see what would you like to see in a manifesto that speaks to the City of London and speaks to our financial services sector,” Siddiq said. “We want to make sure that we work in partnership with everyone in this room today.”

Siddiq said Labour was “excited about the ideas being generated by the City of London on how to generate larger pools of institutional capital,” singling out a proposed fund backed by veteran banker Nicholas Lyons, who serves as lord mayor, the financial district’s ceremonial head.

Reuters reported last month that Britain’s leading asset managers were in advanced talks to create the fund, with up to 50 billion pounds from pension pots to back UK start-ups and stem the flow of technology firms snubbing London for New York.

The Conservative government is set to announce as soon as next month further steps to unlock pension cash to invest in the economy after unveiling a welter of reforms to ease rules in the financial sector post Brexit.

($1 = 0.7855 pounds)

(Reporting by Huw Jones)