As the 691st Lord Mayor of the City of London, the UK’s historic ‘Square Mile’ that is home to the world’s leading financial and professional services hub, I am one of the country’s principal ambassadors for the UK finance sector. I’m also someone who knows a bit about India, having travelled here at least once a year over the last two decades!
This week I have the pleasure of returning to this beautiful country at the helm of a delegation of UK companies to promote further innovative cooperation between our two countries in fintech, an industry of immense potential, and one which is already delivering results for both of us.
The City of London Corporation that I represent has a longstanding partnership with India, having had a representative office in Mumbai for over 12 years. But while we’ve long been associated with India’s ‘Maximum City’, this year, I am hugely excited to be the first Lord Mayor of London in over 10 years to visit the world-renowned ‘Innovation City’, Hyderabad, on September 17 and 18.
Back in the UK in recent years, there’s been a real buzz about the growth taking place in Telangana’s capital, and the pace of expansion seen here. In fact, the city has fast become the place for innovative technology businesses from around the world to come to expand into the Indian market, and that’s exactly the reason I have arrived for meetings with industry and government leaders.
After all, there is much to gain from Hyderabad and the City of London, a gateway to the UK financial sector, building ties in financial services.
We are home to the world’s leading fintech centre, worth £7 billion to the UK economy. Already employing more than 75,000 people nationwide, the sector continues to attract record investment, and employment is expected to surge to well beyond 100,000 by 2030. This sits alongside the city’s already strong international offering, presided over by more than 250 foreign banks, with strong representation from the association of Indian banks.
As a result, we have a real role to play in helping Hyderabad continue to develop a deep-tech innovation ecosystem, leveraging our huge global reach and expertise combined with deep, liquid pools of capital to help it become even more successful in both India and on the world stage. We’re also keen to learn – I’ll be visiting India’s largest accelerator T-Hub and hearing from the Telangana State officials about just what makes this great city attract some of the biggest companies in the world.
In addition, I’ll be going to see the insurance regulator (IRDAI) to understand more about how it plans to shape the future of insurtech in India through its open and collaborative outlook. We’ll also chat about how London, home to the world’s leading insurance market, can continue to convene public and private sector bodies to share best practice in this area.
I believe that London, and more broadly the UK, can be a key knowledge partner for India in its insurance and fintech journey. I also recognise that we are in a strong position to help places like Hyderabad access the innovation taking place in our country. To this extent, during my visit, I’ll be offering to help find solutions for Indian businesses in the city, leveraging the expertise of UK fintechs to solve outstanding issues and plug gaps in know-how.
It’s a bold claim, but one we are committed to. To showcase this expertise, I’ve brought with me a delegation of some of the UK’s finest fintech firms to give you a glimpse of our offering. Companies like Greensill, iProov and Asset Vault, the latter of which are already present in Hyderabad and will soon launch an innovative credit card and loan product for Indian travellers going abroad, and all of whom will be pitching their products and showing how they can play a role in India’s remarkable growth story.
I am coming to Hyderabad to learn and experience the culture of innovation for which it is gaining a global reputation. I am excited to visit the largest incubator in India, T-Hub, and very much look forward to meeting some of the almost 200 fintech startups based in this city. I eagerly await meetings with State government officials, understanding how they have sustained Telangana as one of the top States in ease of doing business for three successive years. I’ll also be saying hello to a group of students from the Indian School of Business, now ranked 24th globally for its MBA programme by the Financial Times.
Brexit may be dominating the headlines back in the UK but here in Hyderabad, I am talking business rather than politics. Because whatever happens after October 31, the relationship between the UK and India will remain of paramount importance, and we cannot lose sight of this fact. Namaste!
(The author is Lord Mayor of the City of London)