by LAUREN CODLING
INDIA is an “important priority market” for the UK, the lord mayor of London confirmed ahead of leading a delegation to the subcontinent last Sunday (7).
Lord mayor Charles Bowman was due to travel to three major cities – Mumbai, Bangalore
and New Delhi – to promote London’s fintech industry.
Meeting various senior Indian ministers and tech industry leaders, Bowman was also accompanied by representatives of 12 leading UK fintech firms for the five-day visit.
Financial technology (fintech) is a relatively new industry which uses technology to enhance activities in finance.
The lord mayor intended to discuss opportunities across a range of tech fields including
insurtech, insurance-related technology models and regtech, or regulatory technologies.
He told Eastern Eye last week that the visit aimed to promote stronger international ties and explore business opportunities.
Asked if there could be any challenges in selling the city as a technology capital, Bowman
said he saw only great opportunities.
London, he explained, is an extraordinary fast-growing fintech hub.
“What we see in London, if you look all the way from St Pancreas to Shoreditch towards Canary Wharf, is a very strong ring of steel which is tech at its core,” he said.
“There is a wonderful hub of activities.”
Last week, prime minister Theresa May and home secretary Sajid Javid announced
new immigration proposals which would prioritise highly-skilled migrants after Brexit.
The proposals would ensure that highly-skilled professionals from India and other
south Asian countries will no longer face visa caps when migrating to Britain, as it was agreed to drop current rules that give preferential treatment to workers from the EU.
Bowman was keen to emphasise that the three areas focused on from a Brexit perspective
were transition, trade and talent.
“The city of London is nothing without access to talent and its people,” he said.
“Treating workers from India the same as those from the EU is extremely important.”
Bowman added he would be taking a message of “reassurance” that London will continue to be the world’s leading financial centre, even after the UK leaves the European Union next year.
In response to Bowman’s visit, India’s high commissioner YK Sinha said the trip came at a very “opportune time, given the ever-strengthening bilateral ties between our two countries.”
“Our collaboration in cutting-edge technologies, financial services and fintech has been particularly noteworthy,” Sinha said.
“I am sanguine that the visit will further enhance these invaluable links, particularly
in the fintech sector.”
In addition to the focus on technology, the lord mayor will also announce the winner of
a scholarship to an Indian student as part of the Mansion House Scholarship Scheme.
It will be given to one exceptional individual who will be given the chance to work closely within the financial hub of the capital for a year.
“We’ve been running the programme for 25 years,” Bowman explained. “We offer between
12 and 15 scholarships when we travel. The aim is to drive in talented young individuals
from across the globe – when they return to their country, they will have joined dots with alumni from across the world.”
Having visited some 27 countries in his role as lord mayor, this will be his first ever trip to India.
The role of lord mayor lasts for a duration of 12 months. Bowman is due to finish his
term on November 9.
As this is his second to last international trip, he will also be joined by lord mayorelect
Alderman Peter Estlin.
By allowing his successors to join the delegation, it means they can develop their own experiences and relationships before taking over the position.
Bowman, who is an accountant by profession, is the 690th lord mayor of the capital.
It is a role that dates back from centuries, initially implemented in the first century.
“[The role acts as] a sense of constant in a world which seems quite short-term,” Bowman
said. “Having the role of a key representative for a thousand-plus years is a very