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BW Businessworld

London Hosts The World’s Leading Financial Centre And Thriving Fintech Community

We want to provide the convenience to kick start the economy by helping businesses and our clients to adapt, says Julie Chappell, Managing Director, London and Partners.

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London and India share common values of innovation, entrepreneurship and opportunities for collaboration continue as we look towards recovery in these countries. 

Both the countries have longstanding business and trade links, and in the face of the global pandemic both London and India-based companies have shown resilience and come together to help each other. London’s easy access to growth capital, infrastructure, world class universities and talent   help the city rebuild and continue to attract Indian companies looking to expand internationally. 

In a recent conversation with BW Businessworld, Julie Chappell, Managing Director, London and Partners spoke about the progressing trade relations between both the countries, opportunities for Indian companies in the UK, thriving sectors in London and more.

Excerpts:

Resilience of London during coronavirus pandemic, and how Indian companies are helping London during the COVID-19 pandemic? 
The government is keeping a very close eye at the infection rate, so we have a very clear system. Despite of Covid-19, London has not stopped, education, innovation in modern sciences and fin-tech is doing well.  

Tourism & education (higher education) sectors have been worst affected – What kind of initiatives will be required to boost both of these? What kind of figures are you expecting from India in this regard?  
For education, we saw a huge increase last year, the numbers were really dwindling before that and then we had a big boost. But going forward we just need to see what happens with Covid-19 and how practical it is for people to actually come. Hopefully by next summer or autumn everything should be settled down.  

 For tourism, it would be foolish to do tourism campaigns to try and tell people to come to UK from overseas because they just can’t due to all the restrictions. But what we are doing is that we are campaigning to Londoners to encourage them to enjoy their city, to get out to enjoy the shops and the restaurants.  

The work visa for Indian students was scraped and we did have a huge boost because of that. London’s education and institutions are world leading and that just made it much more attractive to Indian students because they could actually stay and work.  

Immediately after they scraped the work visa, India became the third largest student community in London. Now they have also added that if you are doing your post grad or doctorate over there, you can also stay there for three years.  

In July, at the 14th Joint Economic and Trade Committee meeting (JETCO) barriers for business were removed across sectors like food, healthcare, IT – which tells us that there is intent and 2021 will see a lot of movement in this regard. How have the India-UK trade relations evolved during Covid-19? What is London and Partners doing to help? 
We want to ride the wave and make the most of that to make even more favourable conditions for India. London is home to so many fantastic Indian companies. Since April, we have helped 17 Indian companies to set-up in London. The sentiment is that we want to have even more solid foundation, trade agreements and make conditions even more favourable so that we can see more coming in. We also help London companies to do business overseas, so it is a two way street, it is not that we are just taking from India but hopefully also giving back to it. London and India share common values of entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation. There is no reason why 2021 should not be an absolute bumper year for London and India.  

India has been recognised by the UK as one of the recipients of the free trade agreements. There have been very senior minister to minister interactions as well of how do we make this relation stronger. At London Partners, we work very closely with Indian companies as well like Oyo and Ola. We equally work with mid-sized companies and then they scale up very quickly not only in London but also internationally. And that is why there are about 842 Indian companies in the UK and about 50 per cent of them are head quartered in London.  

Climate change and renewable energy are two aspects that India and UK bond on. Investment in the ClimateTech sector is growing rapidly, please tell us about London’s thriving ClimateTech sector and green and sustainable financing.   

FinTech sector in London is really strong, the regulatory environment is very favourable for FinTech companies. It provides a really good supportive ecosystem. It is still Europe’s leading financial capital, so all the conditions are right to be a successful FinTech in London.   

Why Indian companies find London attractive is because the regulatory authority- the FCA is based in London. They allow people to come, innovate, test their products and lot of Indian companies have seen success especially in the digital payments space. Another reason is that maximum number of VC funding that London receives is in the FinTech sector.  

What is the immediate focus for London and Partners?   
We had an interim strategy when Covid-19 started, so we need to pivot to a changed resilience and recovery strategy. But now we need to start building for the future and really focus on the emerging sectors of business. We will continue to help trade work as that is super important for us so helping London companies partner and do business overseas and also making sure that we are doing is fit for the new world. Helping the London’s event industry adapt to the new world of hybrid events is also important. We want to provide the convenience to kick start the economy by helping businesses and our clients to adapt.


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London & Partners Julie Chappel