by Chris Hayward

The City of London Corporation is the oldest elected municipal governing body in the world. Across a thousand years of history much has changed. But one constant has been our championing of London’s businesses from the ancient merchant Guilds before the Norman Conquest to advanced AI companies today.

From the darkest hours, the bombing and blitz, to the brightest lights of innovation and adaptation, through all that time, the City of London has not only survived but continued to thrive.

Global gateway
We’ve done this by constantly evolving to the challenges we face at any given time while retaining the traditions that helped build our success. Today, London is the global gateway for financial and professional services. We’re home to a globally-leading financial centre, one that’s open for business and trade with unparalleled reach, deep, liquid pools of capital, and a significant presence of international investors.

We are continuing to evolve to address the global challenges facing us today. That’s why last year we launched our Vision for Economic Growth, our flagship policy to help the country unlock up to £225 billion of investment and economic growth by 2030 and beyond. Our ambition is that the City and its businesses – as they have always done – should help drive progress and economic growth, creating the jobs and businesses of the future, right across the country.

Roadmap to prosperity
If the City is to continue to thrive, we must continue to evolve. Our Vision for Economic Growth is a roadmap to prosperity, suggesting how we can raise investment levels, become a digital-first economy, and anchor the UK as a leader in sustainable finance. That’s why last year we worked with the Chancellor to launch the Mansion House pension reforms to boost saving returns and boost businesses. We want investment in high-growth companies in tech and biotech. They need the capital to start here, scale here, and stay here.
Unlocking that private capital will drive transformative economic growth which will be good for the financial and professional services sector, the wider economy, and the country.

History and heritage
But it’s not enough to maintain the City of London’s role as a leading global financial centre; I’m determined to make it a great place to visit. That’s why at the start of my term as policy chair – the political leader of the City of London Corporation – in May 2022, I launched our flagship Destination City vision for the square mile to become a thriving, seven-day-a-week location.
We have unrivalled history and heritage, world-class arts and culture, outstanding restaurants, cafes, hotels and bars. We not only want to welcome more workers and visitors to the Square Mile but attract more companies too – strengthen the overall business ecosystem. We want businesses to be here, and we want their workers wanting to be here and coming into the office.

Industries of the future
Already we’re beginning to see the results. Demand for City office space is booming as firms adapt to new ways of working, with 11 tall new buildings set for construction in a major sign of long-term economic confidence. The number of Square Mile workers has increased to a record 615,000, up 29,000 on the previous year. And we’ve seen increasing business confidence with recent announcements of moves to the City from HSBC and OpenAI, the owners of ChatGPT.
Here at the City of London Corporation, we’ve long made a success of using the traditions of our past as a platform to build our future. I want to embrace that ethos, using our history, heritage and culture to attract a global and diverse talent pool to build the industries of the future, right here in London.

Chris Hayward is policy chair of the City of London Corporation