L&G boss laments ‘drift’ away from London’s equity market

Authorized & Normal chief government Sir Nigel Wilson has lamented the “perpetual drift” away from London’s fairness market as firms select to checklist elsewhere.

He says the UK is being held again by a low-growth financial system and “political infighting”, which has precipitated the likes of constructing supplies group CRH to maneuver its listings away from London to New York.

“We needs to be anxious about it. We’ve been in perpetual drift,” he mentioned. “There’s a drift of the Metropolis to Europe, there’s a drift of the Metropolis to america,” Wilson advised the Monetary Occasions.

Wilson, who introduced in January he was stepping down as boss following a decade within the job, recognized planning and monetary guidelines as areas the place reform was badly wanted.

“We made the purpose that the UK is a low-productivity, low-growth, low-wage financial system fraught by political infighting and that has to vary,” he mentioned. “We want an enormous step-up in funding within the UK.” 

Because the group unveiled its full-year outcomes, Wilson additionally highlighted a shift by UK pension funds from equities to bonds, over a interval of a long time, as a key driver of the drift away from London.

“If I am going again 20-odd years, [our defined benefit pension funds] can be over 50 per cent invested in equities, now they’re like 6 per cent,” he mentioned. Outlined contribution pension schemes needs to be investing extra deeply in progress fairness, he urged.

On his view, which means much less cash going into fast-growing firms that may go on to checklist within the UK. L&G invests in 600 start-ups throughout its portfolio. “We wish to scale up a whole lot of these and we would like these to be FTSE constituents in years forward,” he mentioned. “That’s what has to occur within the UK.”

Corporations that selected the UK would probably create their head workplace right here, make use of authorized {and professional} advisers, he added, however they produce other choices. “Everyone’s bought selections to make.”

L&G reported £2.5bn of working revenue for 2022, barely beating analyst expectations and helped by a busy marketplace for company pension offers, the place firms pay a premium to dump their pension liabilities to an insurer.

Larger rates of interest have inspired this exercise, by enhancing scheme funding ranges and making it simpler for them to do offers. Rising charges have additionally improved life insurers’ personal solvency positions.

L&G mentioned its solvency ratio — its capital as a proportion of the regulatory minimal — had risen from 187 per cent to a document 236 per cent on the finish of the yr.

The board mentioned it had commenced a “rigorous course of” to exchange Wilson as chief government. It’s contemplating inside and exterior candidates and the method might take as much as a yr.

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