City of London’s Lord Mayor arrives in the U.S., with goal of turning his city into the world’s financial technology capital

Vincent Chiaveni, Lord Mayor of the City of London, arrived in the San Francisco Bay Area this week to meet with potential investors, guided by one main goal: to turn his city into a world leader in financial technology.

The effort comes at a time when the UK capital is leaving the European Union for the third year after leaving a trading bloc in January 2020 with businesses in London’s central business district and throwing bleak short-term prospects on its retail sector.

On Monday, Kiweni met with representatives of Salesforce.com Inc. CRM; venture company Sway Ventures; and Plaid, a financial services company in San Francisco. On Tuesday, he is scheduled to meet BEN with Franklin Resources Inc.,
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Franklin Templeton, Piva Capital and Plug and Play Tech Center before heading to Mexico. The meetings are part of an effort to attract investment interest to London, create more jobs in financial technology and technology, and raise the city’s status in the world of finance and innovation to a level that cities such as Beijing and San Francisco compete with. and New York.

“We want London to be positioned as the international capital of technology,” Chiaveni said in an interview with MarketWatch in San Francisco on Monday. “The ecosystem in California – in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley area – is such a hub of innovation. We need to be involved in this to achieve our goals in London and the UK. ”

“Technology is really something that is driving change these days,” he said. “If London stays ahead in innovation, in technology development, everything will be fine in London.”

Less than three weeks ago, Kiweni wrote an online article noting that Brexit’s double problems and last year’s pandemic sparked some cynics who doubted the future of the UK capital as the world’s leading business hub. London lost about 7,400 jobs due to Brexit, which is much less than expected. Meanwhile, the city has since created tens of thousands of new jobs, Chiaveni says, especially in the technology and fintech sectors, which helped boost the UK economy to 7.5% last year.

Despite a wave of small business closures during the omicron wave of the pandemic, London is now recovering quickly, he says. England began the process of lifting virtually all restrictions against COVID-19 in January, even though the rest of Europe was still covered by Omicron. Its residents are no longer subject to mandatory face mask requirements, and the government is in the process of lifting quarantine requirements for those who test positive for coronavirus, which is several months ahead of the UK, which seems to have a more normal lifestyle.

The US is the UK’s largest trading and investment partner, while the UK itself is one of the largest foreign direct investors in the US economy, pouring almost half a trillion dollars into mostly private financial capital in 2020. Kiweni says his message to American businesses and investors is that “London and the UK are more open and interested than ever in the opportunities offered by American investment.”

“London is returning from the pandemic surprisingly quickly. Bars and restaurants are overcrowded, and that’s perfectly normal, ”he said. “We’re coming back from the pandemic, and it’s a great time for American businesses and investors to look again at London and the UK.”

However, the work ahead for Keaveny may not be entirely easy. American investors of all stripes in recent days have been concerned about the potential of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the highest inflation rate in four decades and the prospect of a multiple increase in interest rates by the Federal Reserve this year.

In addition to all this, there is the potential difficulty of reproducing all the components of the success of a place like Silicon Valley – whether it is face-to-face interaction or access to a wealth of talent and capital.

Some American companies, such as Zoom Video Communications ZM,
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and JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPM,
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“Success has been achieved in international markets,” said Ahmad Thomas, executive director of Silicon Valley Group of Leaders, whose members provide nearly one-third of work in the valley’s private sector. However, “the export of technology and innovation infrastructure that we have here in Silicon Valley to other markets is quite challenging.”

“Is that him [the Lord Mayor] Thomas can create a significant basis for return on investment, it can be very difficult to encourage significant dynamic investment in the high hundreds of millions, given the many challenging field conditions and volatile prospects, ”said Pandemic and Brexit, Thomas said by phone.

This week’s Kiaveni trip is the first time the Lord Mayor has visited the United States during a pandemic. In his role as Chiaveni, the 56-year-old corporate lawyer, who was born and raised in Ireland, serves as the international ambassador for the UK’s financial and professional services sector. In November, he became the 693rd Lord Mayor of London and the first Irishman to hold the post.

With responsibilities distinct from London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who serves a wide area of ​​Greater London, Kiaveni holds a one-year term and is the head of the governing body overseeing the Square Mile. The “square mile”, where the financial district of the city is located, last year due to the pandemic almost became a ghost town of empty buildings.

“Over the next six to 12 months, I hope to see a number of venture capitalists we’re talking to in London looking at business opportunities investing in significant investment in the UK,” Kiweni said. “Certainly all we hear from this community in San Francisco is” during Monday’s meetings, “that they are really interested in looking at these opportunities.”

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