LONDON (Reuters) - Britain laid out plans on Wednesday to protect and grow its asset management industry as it looks to fight off Brexit-fuelled competition from rival European centres for the valuable business.
Britain is Europe’s largest fund management centre, with 8.1 trillion pounds in assets under management, but countries such as Ireland, Luxembourg and France hope to lure businesses that are concerned about the impact of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
In its ‘UK Investment Management Strategy II’, the government said it was updating its original 2013 document to “strengthen the UK’s brand for asset management, enabling firms to respond effectively to the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and capitalise upon future trading opportunities”.
Amid concern that Brexit could hamper the industry’s ability to access top global investment talent, the government said it would support ‘Asset Management Centres of Excellence’ at UK universities across the country, including apprenticeships, but did not give a timeline or say who would fund the centres.
“The industry’s academic research spend is currently spread thinly across many institutions and initiatives. By consolidating the majority of existing research... the industry would be able to benefit from economies of scale and have a greater impact on skills,” the government said.
“These Centres will form the backbone of the UK’s world-leading asset management capabilities and professionalism where qualifications would be universally recognised as a global standard.”
The plan also aims to attract overseas firms to locate in the UK, including through marketing and liaising with trade bodies such as the Investment Association.
Britain’s asset management industry employs over 38,000 people, the government said, and is bigger than that of France, Germany and the Netherlands combined.
“The UK is a world leader in asset management, and it is vital that we keep it that way,” Stephen Barclay, economic secretary to the Treasury, said in a statement.
The government said the Treasury could look to expand the number of countries its senior officials engage with through financial and economic dialogue or bi-lateral engagement from the current list of Brazil, China, India, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.
Other plans include to develop financial technology, including a blockchain-enabled digital fund, and to support growth in “innovative” investment strategies such as social impact investing.
The asset management industry generates around 1 percent of the UK’s gross domestic product.
Chris Cummings, chief executive of the Investment Association, said the strategy would provide “a roadmap to success through Brexit and beyond”.
Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Susan Fenton