The Power of Data Podcast
Episode 24: Data and the Fight Against Economic Crime
Guest: Bob Wigley, Chairman of UK Finance
Interviewer: Sam Tidswell-Norrish, International CMO, Dun & Bradstreet
SAM TN 00:00
Hi, welcome back. You're joined today by me, Sam, and Bob Wigley, Chairman of UK Finance. Welcome, Bob.
Bob Wigley 00:05
SAM TN 00:06
Bob, in doing my research ahead of having the pleasure of meeting you today, it took me a lot longer than I thought it would. You've got a really extensive past and it touches on everything from financial services to regulation, government roles, academia, broader business, philanthropy and charity, an incredible past already and still so much further to go. But could you tell our listeners a little bit about your career.
Bob Wigley 00:28
Well the story I'd love to start with was when at school, I participated in something called Young Enterprise. It's a scheme where you actually operate a little business for two hours a week. And so I was the managing director of that little business and we made notelets and lamp shades. We doubled the 250 pounds that we raised from our parents, turned it into 500 pounds over the course of the exercise, but it taught me a lot about being an entrepreneur and running a little business. And the great bit of that story is that when I then went to university, I mentored some kids in a young enterprise company. I had won the national competition, I was managing director of the nationwide award winning competition and they won also the national competition. We were in the car on the way back to London from Sheffield, which was where Midland Bank used to be headquartered. And they said to me, Bob, how many schools are there in the UK? And I said, I think it's thousands. And they said, and how many young enterprise companies all around the UK, and I said, I think it's about 200. And they said, Well, since you've had this amazing experience, and we've had this amazing experience, how do we get one in every school in the UK? So I said, well, let's write to the Prime Minister, and I was 19, they were 16. So they looked at me and they said, you know, can we write to the Prime Minister? I said, anybody can write to the Prime Minister. So we wrote to Mrs. Thatcher. Slightly to my surprise, by return, I got an invitation to go meet her at Downing Street the following week. And so the four of us trekked off to Downing Street. We made her a little presentation about why we thought young enterprise is something that should be a national scheme. She had convened in the room next door, in advance, the chairman of Lloyds market, the chairman of the Stock Exchange, the chairman of some banks. She took us next door. She basically said to these pale, male and stale, we would now call them, men, “you lot, make sure there's one of these schemes in every school in the UK by the end of next year”. And then she left. Now, it was meeting the chairman of one of the banks who then said, listen, “you're obviously trouble, you better come and see me at my office”. And I went to his office, I remember thinking, the chairman of a bank, this is what I'm gonna do for living. It took me 25 years, but that is ultimately what I did. But it was all from that inspirational meeting with Mrs. Thatcher.
SAM TN 02:25
That's an incredible story. It really is. From lampshades to boardrooms, unbelievable.
Bob Wigley 02:30
So inevitably, then I got caught by the education system did the usual thing went to university, I qualified as a chartered accountant, did a couple of years in the consulting business. And then I ended up moving into banking where I spent a very happy 25 years, first 10 years with Morgan Grenfell and then 16 with Merrill Lynch, and I ended up being the EMEA Chairman of Merrill Lynch. So that was 9000 people, 23 countries, about half a trillion dollars of gross assets. And that takes us into the financial crisis, when I was asked by the prime minister to join the board of the Bank of England to help the bank at that time, begin to understand what was probably going to come down the pike in terms of the effects of the financial crisis and how best to handle them. And then 10 years ago, I left banking and I now have one job, which is this fantastic job chairing UK Finance where I represent the UK financial services industry, banking and finance and the rest of the week, which is actually most of it, I back young entrepreneurs building growth businesses.
SAM TN 03:22
Two questions here that I want to segue into. The first is on UK Finance a trade organisation. I've had the great pleasure of being part of the founding teams of a couple of different trade bodies. And they often have very broad and varied objectives. UK Finance is the kind of all-encompassing one, your board includes representatives from all different areas of the industry, including the other trade organisations, which is super powerful, because it means that you act as the sort of cross pollinating, convening capability. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about UK Finance and what your purpose is?
Bob Wigley 03:54
Yes, so we have 250 members and they range literally from the biggest five banks and building societies in the UK, down to the smallest asset backed lender. And in the middle, they have the payment schemes, they have the credit card companies and the building societies. So, we literally cover the waterfront, we don't look after insurance, which of course is the ABI, or asset management, which is the Investment Association, but pretty much everything else.
Now the good news is you might think with the variety of members we have, going from HSBC to say Monzo, that we would find it difficult to represent the industry because people have very different views. In fact, many of the things that we work on, and we have three basic functions. The first is policy formulation for the industry. So what regulation do we see coming down the pike, either from the EU or from our own government? And how should we react to it? How should we help shape it? Then we have advocacy. So that's advocating with government regulators to the media. And then the third one, which I spend most of my time on, is what we call collaboration. So that's how can the industry work better together, to do things that maybe historically banks have done on their own, individually, but now it could be doing better together, which improve service to our customers and help us save money. So that's a big area for us and the biggest of those, and I know we're gonna come back to it later, is fighting economic crime.
SAM TN 05:06
Yeah, we certainly are. That's a really hot topic for me, for Dun and Bradstreet, and for you guys. But let's go back to the start of that question. We were talking a little bit about how you spend some of the rest of your time, which, it doesn't sound like you have much of it, but investing in exciting new areas. I have a personal passion in investing as well. And I'm particularly keen not to steal your thesis, but to hear why you like financial technology and cyber so much.
Bob Wigley 05:30
So first of all, I like hanging out with entrepreneurs because like you, I guess I find them invigorating.
SAM TN 05:34
Better than bankers.
Bob Wigley 05:35
SAM TN 05:36
I don’t know if I can say that.
Bob Wigley 05:36
Better than some bankers. So, having spent 25 years in mainstream big corporates, I mean, listen, you can have a great time there, you can have a fascinating and fulfilling career. But spending some time at least with younger entrepreneurs who have great ideas, but perhaps, don't always know how to get those ideas put into action. Where you can bring some experience, you can bring some contacts, and maybe even bring some money, and sit alongside them and help them grow, both financially, and as people, that's a great privilege and so that's why I do it.
SAM TN 06:04
Your day job at UK Finance, you're helping big firms collaborate with small firms and it's ultimately exactly the same thing. When you're helping an entrepreneur build a value creation plan, your experience of dealing with large banks and understanding how to manage the stakeholders, understanding sales cycles, understanding value propositions must be critical for them.
Bob Wigley 06:22
It's been a particular, I think, issue for fintech’s because by definition, these are startups, they're small businesses. They're seeking to provide services very often to very large corporations that have safety and soundness at their heart. So being taken seriously in the first meeting, when you are very small business with a huge corporation, that is by nature, conservative, is difficult. And that I think, is where I can be helpful because I can often open that door, get the conversation going, enable the startup to be taken seriously and given credibility in a way that maybe it couldn't if it was just on its own.
SAM TN 06:52
Collaboration actually, I think, is one of those big trends we've seen over the last 10 or so years and the financial crisis, for all of the awful things that it brought, did bring an inflection point where people had to think differently. Collaboration was one of the positive things that came out of it. What are some of the other trends that you've seen in our space that kind of align to the fourth industrial revolution?
Bob Wigley 07:14
Well, obviously the increased shift to digital. So customers are looking for more convenient and frictionless ways of accessing their cash, their savings, their investments. So a large part of the fintech community is obviously focused on helping that shift to digital happen faster. And obviously, bigger banks with legacy systems and millions of customers, certainly in the beginning, maybe have not been so fast to embrace the digital revolution. Some of these fintechs have been a great spurt of innovation, but I think we have seen a shift. So, whereas in the beginning some of the big banks, perhaps, looked at these fintech companies warily, weren't sure whether they were really competitors or whether they were good or bad. I think now we've moved into a period of collaboration where the bigger banks see the shift in the interest of their consumers, their top priority is to serve consumers better. And if they can do that by integrating a fintech company that has already developed some interesting new software or processes that helps them serve their customers better, that is absolutely part of the mission.
SAM TN 08:15
Yeah, it's interesting. We've seen banks since, I joined a bank right in the crux of the financial crisis, which was a terrible time to join. And we saw a shift in focus. We saw a shift towards the customer, as the customer became more empowered. We've then seen a shift to corporate banking and specifically to banking SMEs, and I was reading in the Financial Times this morning, actually, the shift towards the freelancer, micro SME community, which again is a large focus now for Dun & Bradstreet. In the US, nearly a third of all jobs are gig economy jobs, which I think is going to be a fascinating next chapter for the industry.
Bob Wigley 08:52
I totally agree. So I'm actually writing a little book which is going to be called That Bloody Device, which is about the smartphone and the effect on Generation Z and the behaviors that we're seeing in that age group. And I myself meet a new entrepreneur every day, I made a new year's resolution about two years ago to do that. And the kids I meet you know, they all want to start their own business they all want to work at home or work in a WeWork, they're not interested in, what I call experiences not jobs, and purposes not businesses. They’re actually two of my chapter headings. So you know, people want to work for an organisation they feel is doing something useful and sustainable, rather than simply a large company that makes money. So I think that the whole CSR thing has now moved into a different gear and we talk about sustainability, right across, but certainly in banking, we talk about purpose, we need to explain better to people. Because the basic function of banking, which you know, you and I would understand as maturity transformation, is never going to score highly on social media or be a top attractor, but that's actually what banks do. Now, explaining that we help small businesses grow, we give families their first mortgage or we help them buy their first car, using what I call Janet and John English, to put into everyday language what banks do that actually give the economy the ability to function in its most basic sense. That's what banks do. But we just have to be better at explaining what we call purpose.
SAM TN 10:07
I love the title of your book, by the way. I was at the World Economic Forum in Davos, just this year, and I was speaking to an executive from a bank. We were talking about the anxiety that phones create for the next generation. A generation who's only ever known always being on, and the lady asked me how many different ways do you think there are on your phone for someone to communicate with you. And immediately I started thinking a text, call, voicemail, that only my mother uses, and a few other ones. I made an average guess at say, 12 to 15. There are over 30 on my phone alone. I got tired of counting.
Bob Wigley 10:42
There's a professor at MIT called Professor Sherry Turkle, who's written two fantastic books about the early effects of this kind of technology on Generations Z in particular. The first book was called Alone Together. So, the concept that you might theoretically be connected to lots of people, but in fact you are lonely. Literally, in the car this morning on the way here I was listening to the Women's Hour and there was a half an hour section on loneliness. And precisely this subject that, you know, you can have 100 connections, but you don't actually have a deep relationship with anybody. And I think that's a big problem. And she goes on in her second book, which is called Reclaiming Conversation, to look at the way in which these devices facilitate text conversation, but basically have ended the role of this live conversation. If you don't sit with someone, you don't see the facial signals they're sending you in reaction to what you say, you lose the ability to empathise and empathy is what holds society together. So I think, what my book I hope will do, is go on to ask if you buy that general construct of behavior, which I don't think you can't because it's so pretty obvious, particularly with youngsters, is what does that mean for the future of the family? What does it mean for the future of the workplace? Do we actually have to be in workplaces in the future, or would we have style places where people come and sit, but actually the two people they don't talk to the people in the pods next to them because they've got their earphones on and are, you know, devoured by three devices on their desk? And ultimately what is the effect on community, is the only community we have virtual community through our smartphone? Which we all know is fake.
SAM TN 12:10
So true, and I could talk about this for hours. I was reading a book last night and I read two pages and then I started thinking about other stuff. And I realised that my concentration span is now 150, I'm hoping the chapters in your book are 160 characters per chapter, because then I'll be able to read it.
Bob Wigley 12:25
So we've lost the ability to do what's called deep attention. We’ve become multitaskers, but the problem with that is we can't actually attend to any one thing solely for any length of time. That's a problem because it is when you're in deep attention that you tend to actually make achievement. And the other thing we've lost the ability to do is deep read, so we now skim read paragraphs. I mean, kids, the idea of kids reading books is actually quite troublesome. And what they'll do is be perhaps watching a Netflix part reading, you know, the first line of a chapter or book, answering three Facebook messages, there's a snapchat thing popping up on the right-hand side of your screen here. So, you're actually looking at six things at once. So, you've lost the ability to attend to one thing deeply and to read anything for more than a few seconds. Because the next stimulus comes in the next image. This then leads, interestingly to, I think, all sorts of issues around mental health because the dopamine effect of this device is to encourage you to constantly seek the next stimulation, and that one that is quite troublesome. That's where you're getting this what we call disconnection anxiety. Anyway, so that's the book. We'll see if we can actually get it done. It's quite a quite an undertaking but I’m working with a young researcher from Yale called Lulu Chang who I've worked on a paper with before, so we're making progress.
SAM TN 13:35
I feel like we’ve just had an appointment in the first 10 minutes of our podcast. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Let's flip to economic crime, bit more of a sobering topic. I read a while back, actually, I think it was the start of 2019, the government put out seven priorities around how to tackle economic crime. Economic crime still accounts for something around the 7 billion pound mark in the UK, an unbelievably large number globally. I'd love to hear your reflections perhaps on the last 12 months that have just been and gone. How are we improving our approach to economic crime in the UK?
Bob Wigley 14:09
Yeah. So the short answer is, you know, a massive improvement but lots more to do, of course. And let's just quickly try and divide economic crime up into sort of areas. So I guess there are two really big ones. One is money laundering. We think there's about 100 billion sterling of dirty money floating around the UK per annum. Okay, now we have to try and tackle that, we have anti-money laundering legislation. But right now, the scheme is not as effective as we would like. And UK Finance, therefore has a group of people in the Home Office in our office working on a joint project to try and reform the way anti-money laundering procedures in the UK work with a view to there being less but more meaningful, triggered reports to the National Crime Agency. At the moment, there are way too many reports for the National Crime Agency to be able to deal effectively and investigate all of them. So what we need to do is reduce the number that make them more effective, sorry more meaningful, i.e. more likely to lead to some law enforcement activity and ultimately a prosecution. So that, that's one part of it.
The other part of it is fraud in the widest sense. This is now I think, pretty much the largest crime statistic in the UK, so more people fall victim to fraud than fall victim to any other crime in the UK. And the banks obviously spend billions trying to prevent fraud. And we reckon that we prevent, and I think independent estimates show, that we prevent about two in three pounds of every attempted fraud. But if one pound in three is still getting through, that's one pound too many. And so there we have a whole range of public partnerships with the government with the home office with law enforcement to try and become more focused on the biggest areas and the biggest threat. So last year, as an industry, we worked very closely with the Home Office to prepare the first ever public private threat assessment. So this takes all the information that our intelligence agencies know, that our law enforcement National Crime Agency knows, and put it together with what the financial intelligence officers of banks and building societies and credit card companies know, to better frame the threat, if you like. Where are the most serious issues? And then from that we put together the first ever joint economic crime plan. So that's saying, okay, well, if you say those are the biggest five threats, how can we work together between law enforcement, the government, the agencies, and the industry, to tackle that fraud most effectively. And there we have a whole range of initiatives that they include things like our dedicated card fraud prevention unit, which again, we have at UK Finance. We have a group of police who liaise very closely with the financial intelligence officers of banks, and every day we go and raid organised consumer credit card gangs. We take their computers and their phones, we recover lost cards, we recover a lot more lost card numbers. On occasion we recover proceeds and repatriate them to their rightful owner. And that's been a very effective model again, bringing together the best of the public and private sectors.
SAM TN 16:55
I was flicking through the agenda and itinerary for the event the Economic Crime Summit that you are hosting this Wednesday on the 12th of February. And there's a panel that has a representative from HSBC, a representative from the National Economic Crime Center and a representative from the police force. And I did wonder how those people fitted together.
Bob Wigley 17:13
Yes. So there is now something called the economic crime strategy board and it was set up under the last Home Secretary. We've met three times and that brings together everybody from the attorney general, the director of the Serious Fraud Office, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, the Commissioner of the City of London Police who lead on fraud in the UK, the director general of the National Crime Agency, myself representing the industry broadly and then the CEOs of some of the largest banks in the UK. And what we do is we look at these reports, we look at the threat assessment, we look at the economic crime plan, and we make sure that resource is brought to bear on the biggest threats. And we really start to drill down on some of this activity because, although some of the items are quite small in monetary terms, they have the potential to ruin families lives. Every one that gets through is one to many. So, we're working very, very hard on that.
SAM TN 18:03
There's a lot of low hanging fruit it seems, and I don't mean to make it sound trivial, I just think that technology gives us such an opportunity. At D&B we do a ton of stuff in the economic crime space, we focus on work around supply chain with UK Government, we do an awful lot of stuff with our bank clients and other firms that have global supply chains to eliminate this kind of activity. In fact, just in this seat, before you, a chap called Vishal, who's the CEO and founder of Quantexa, which as a financial crime analytics business uses our data to enrich their propositions so that they can help banks cut down on fraud.
Bob Wigley 18:41
This is absolutely an area where AI can be brought to bear to focus the activity in the most likely place to result in a good outcome. And we work with firms like yours, across the industry and others. And just this week, I've been in a series of meetings where we're looking at the patterns of activity across bank account activity in the UK, or bank to bank transfers to be more precise. And we're trying to hone down on the issue of mule accounts. So there are thousands of mule accounts in the UK that are used by criminals to transfer money, once the money has been obtained under a fraud, to transfer it divided up into smaller amounts before it perhaps goes abroad or goes out through some other aspects of the financial system maybe into cryptocurrency or into cash through an ATM or a money service bureau, for example. Now, the pattern of activity in those new accounts is very different from the one that we would see in your bank account. In your bank account, I think we probably see a large check come in once a month, which would be your salary, and then you'd have a whole series of payments will go out over the rest of the month. It's a pretty stable pattern of activity, most of the time, okay. A mule account will do nothing for weeks, and then suddenly, some money will arrive within minutes, possibly even seconds, it will be divided into small chunks and sent out. So, that kind of activity, you know, one can detect using AI and then one can hone down on those accounts and investigate what's going on.
SAM TN 19:58
Another really interesting area, actually, is human trafficking. We put together, with Dow Jones, Dun & Bradstreet and then some NGOs and Quantexa, the ability to find people who are participating in the human trafficking activities. 40 million people a year are still being trafficked. It's just not acceptable in the world we live in.
Bob Wigley 20:17
No, it absolutely isn't. Actually, the Dutch, I think have the best program on this. Some of the, one of the Dutch banks in particular, work closely with the law enforcement agencies in Holland, I was there two, three months ago, looking at what they're doing, and we will look to see if we can import some of the learning from that program here. But that's certainly that world leading program that I've seen in that particular area, which as you say, is terrible.
SAM TN 20:37
I want to hear more about that, but maybe offline, I don't know how much you're able to say. Let's pivot a little bit, perhaps to some external industries outside of financial services. The use or availability of data in industries in general is evolving at lightning pace. What role do you think we can use data and analytics in other industries?
Bob Wigley 20:56
So take one of my own businesses I'm backing, a business called Bink, which basically links your loyalty cards to your payment card. Now that business will ultimately deliver very useful data to retailers. Actually, they used to have it, but the advent of contactless payment and self-service checkouts has resulted in retailers losing a lot of their customer data, so we're restoring that. So, useful data, which means that when the retailer sends you an offer, they're sending you an offer for something you actually, regularly, buy, as opposed to something you rarely buy, which can happen at the moment. So it's improving the quality of loyalty schemes for retailers. So that would be one example that I would highlight as in one of my own businesses. Another I'm involved in a second business in Northern Ireland, which basically is a new way of making online video content, but it contextualises what you see. So that let's say we both watch an Instagram video, there might be a 10 second clip, in the video that you watched that has Hugo Boss suits as its focus, in my case, it might be Massimo Dutti, and that's because Instagram knows from the other things we're doing on Instagram, what we like to look at. So, our technology personalises the content of video to your personal buying habits, making, hopefully, the content of that video more relevant to your interest. So that's another use of data.
SAM TN 22:10
It's amazing. We're about to launch a new capability at D&B that combines your own in-house data with traditional data, typical financial data that we would provide with ultimate data. And ultimate data provides so many incredible opportunities. If you think about sentiment and intent data, or if you think about digital data, and all of the exhaust data that's kicked up by payments transactions. If you can structure and apply analytics to those, you can allow businesses to make so many better decisions. And we're just getting I think, to that, the sort of hockey stick curve part of global commerce, where things are about to move a lot faster, and be a lot more meaningful.
Bob Wigley 22:50
I completely agree with you. But I think the other thing that's happening in parallel is a focus by the consumer on the fact that it is their data that is being used and what it's being used for. So, I think in parallel with that rise in development, you will see the growth of the sort of data ethics process. And companies adopting their own data ethics processes and policies and the consumer better understanding when their data has been used and what it's being used for. And, certainly, banks are leading the way in that area.
SAM TN 23:18
We're going to go towards a Brexit related question. I'm sure you fielded tons of these, so we’ll keep it to just the one.
Bob Wigley 23:24
Just as a quick interject, the best job, you haven’t asked me this question, but what was the best job I've ever had, it was being chairman of Victoria Beckham's fashion business. And the reason that was the best job I ever had, was for 18 months, I went to dinner parties and no one ever asked me about Brexit. They just asked me about Victoria. So that was the best job ever.
SAM TN 23:39
I now want to change my question. You've advised so many businesses in your career, from the Royal Mail to British Airways to a ton of entrepreneurs coming through the ranks as the future unicorns, or so we hope. Without getting too much into the politics, what are some of the biggest issues that people were concerned about with Brexit? Have they been alleviated? And what do you think still on the horizon for us?
Bob Wigley 24:03
So, I think just to touch on financial services, start with obviously, the loss of passporting is not something that anybody can dress up as a positive. If today you can, by having a bank in the UK, sell your products in 27 markets, and tomorrow you can't, that's a problem. So the question is, where do we go from here? Do we end up with some kind of mutual equivalence framework? And that's certainly our fervent desire. We never thought we would get as far as mutual recognition, but we do think some kind of enhanced mutual equivalence framework is where we hope to end up. The truth is, and we have to be realistic about this, that free trade agreements in history have not tended to cover services, let alone financial services. Now, this government is talking about a Canadian style agreement that does, as you know, have a chapter in it on financial services. So we'll just have to see where we end up. But we're very much hoping that we can head towards some kind of mutual equivalence process where we are still able to sell our products, unless the government and the industry has decided to diverge from the EU rulebook. And that threatens equivalence. But that at least should be a decision that's taken in the knowledge of its impact and not by accident. So we hope from the start of equivalence. As far as other industries. I mean, there are similar issues in other industries, whether it be you know, pharmaceutical industry, whether it be car manufacturing, where, you know, the regulations today give them access, and if they didn't have equivalence, tomorrow, they might not have that access. I think the issues are kind of similar, but different, obviously, in every industry. As far as I'm concerned, I'm very positive about the future very positive about the future of the UK, I have never seen innovation at a higher level. And I meet a new entrepreneur every day I meet many young growing businesses. And, everyday, I'm seeing fantastic ideas and energetic entrepreneurial people. And I'm very confident that with the kinds of free trade agreements that I know, many other countries in the world want to do with us. And so just before Christmas, I had a series of dinners with bank senior executives from the relevant countries and the ambassadors of Japan, Canada and Australia, all of whom said two things. Which slightly surprised me to be honest in terms of their degree of enthusiasm. The first was, “we want now to see you out of the EU, we want this process finished, and we want certainty. Because the day you leave, we want to sign a free trade agreement with you, and we want it to be wide ranging”. They all said this pretty much. “We want it to be wide ranging, we want it to be meaningful, and we want it to be groundbreaking”. And so okay, you can add up Australia, Canada and Japan and say that they don’t add up to a massive amount of our total global trade. But they're all very important countries, and they all have completely different trading issues with us. And they're all broadly saying the same thing, which is we'd like to see the UK, banging the drum for free trade in the world not for protectionist approaches. This has always been our stance. And of course, we're going into these talks on the basis that we want to start with zero tariffs. Why did trade agreements take so long to negotiate? Largely because you know, you say to me, well, if you want 5% on cars, I'm going to put 3% on fish. If you start from point of view, you don't want to charge anything, on anything you would at least hope, maybe I'm naïve, that the conversation can be a lot quicker. Then you quickly move to the non-tariff barriers, which is where you get into things like equivalence for financial services. I'm very positive about the potential for the UK. I think the country that brought you the internet, the telephone, the light bulb, and of course the roundabout is not going to be bad by Brexit.
SAM TN 27:16
I couldn't agree more and it puts a big smile on my face hearing you talk about the UK’s future like that. We've always punched above our weight, we’re the fifth or sixth, I should probably know…
Bob Wigley 27:24
Sixth now, was fifth, yeah.
SAM TN 27:25
Was fifth… largest economy on the planet punching above our weight, just a small island at the top of Europe. And we've had people like Ada Lovelace to Sir Tim Berners-Lee, as part of the fabric of our nation.
Bob Wigley 27:37
The reasons, just to interrupt you for a second. So, I wrote a report for Boris when he was mayor of London, which was called London winning in the decade ahead. And it was 10 years ago that I wrote it. What we did was we went back and looked at why London had been so successful as a global financial center over so many decades, and we identified about 40 factors. Now the good news is that very few of those are actually affected by Brexit and they are things like the fact that we have a world revered legal system that is seen to be fair and free of corruption. It's understandable, and it's predictable. We have a tax regime, which is broadly internationally competitive, you could argue about taxes on banks, but that's not the focus of our discussion. It is broadly competitive for, in terms of corporation tax for non-banks, and again, is applied in a reasonable and fair way, broadly speaking. We obviously have the English language, we have our time zone, we have above our weight in the best universities in the world, we have fabulous university research, you know. So, I could go on but the point is that there are let's say 30 or 35, of the 40 factors that are not affected by Brexit, and will still be just as good after Brexit and what we need to do is make sure that we invest in maintaining those factors and making sure that they are trending upwards, not downwards.
SAM TN 28:46
Absolutely right. And that was part of my next question, which was what do you think we need to do more of to continue to be successful? Is it deeper access to talent because of the outcomes of Brexit? Is it, we need to attract more capital? Is it, we just need to be more ambitious and not sell out too early? What do you think? What's going to help us create the real unicorns?
Bob Wigley 29:04
So many of those things that you mentioned I think are right, so I do think the ability to attract the best talent in the world, I mean London and the UK generally, is a global talent pool. Look at the asset management industry, for example, that is outsized and based here, and we are a must go to roadshow destination. I mean, you wouldn't seriously think about doing an IPO of any company in the world without a visit to London's asset managers. So, I think we have a very deep professional services market, so the best accountants, lawyers, tax advisers, the property industry surveyors in the world, construction companies, I think there are so many opportunities. And what we need the government to do, obviously, is to create the right legal background, the right investment support, the right competitive tax regime, and, frankly, the business to get on with doing what it does best.
SAM TN 29:52
Couldn’t agree more. We're coming to the end, I want to ask a couple of even further right field questions. You support a lot of young entrepreneurs. If you were to give one piece of advice to budding entrepreneur about so that their new venture, what would that be?
Bob Wigley 30:05
Well, to turn it the other way around, when I look at the businesses that come to me, and I see many good ones, the overriding question for me is, does this business idea have the ability to be a world changer? In other words, can it be worth a billion or more. I see many ideas that could be worth 10 or 20 million. The problem with that is it may take you many years and if you can only work on, as I can, five or six, you obviously want to pick ones that have the potential to be the next Facebook or Twitter or whatever example you want to give. So I would say to the entrepreneurs, and I do often say to young entrepreneurs, you've got a very good idea, but I would not waste the next three years of your life from 20 to 23, trying to prosecute it, because it's not big enough for you, go and find a bigger one. Which is really a difficult message to give people sometimes because they could create a perfectly good business and sell it for 10 million pounds. But if they’ve got the capability to do more then I encourage them to go big, and that might mean a different idea.
SAM TN 30:56
It's a great point that you're making because it comes down to people and you’re always backing people and not necessarily ideas.
Bob Wigley 31:01
So it's, it's yeah, I mean, the danger with doing what I do is you either fall in love with the entrepreneur or you fall in love with the idea. You fall in love with the idea and the entrepreneur isn’t capable of executing it and you fall in love with the entrepreneur and the business idea isn't a very good one. So obviously, the you know, nirvana is finding a combination of the two. But that in a way is where, hopefully, your experience comes in, because you can maybe marry a first-class entrepreneur with a better idea, or improve the idea they’ve got, and so improve the chances of success.
SAM TN 31:28
Thank you. And then a final one, you know, we talk about these bloody devices, that take up so much of our day, how do you get the most out of your day? How do you make sure that you are as productive as you can be? Because I know that a day in the life of Bob is going to be pretty full on, I'm sure.
Bob Wigley 31:43
Well, I've had a PA that's been with me for 20 years this summer, who is probably the best PA in the world. So that's rule number one, have a fantastic PA and work closely with them. And I think just being super well organised yourself, to be honest. I mean, I think I am quite a good multitasker. So you know I don't do any one thing, I do seven or eight things and trying to keep seven balls in the air at once and focus on all of them is sometimes tough, but I think you can develop a skill to do that.
SAM TN 32:05
I struggle to watch TV and text at the same time so.
Bob Wigley 32:08
I don't watch TV.
SAM TN 32:09
No, me neither to be fair.
Bob Wigley 32:11
The news is about it.
SAM TN 32:12
Yeah, quite. Bob, thank you. I've learned an awful lot here and I'm sure that our listeners have too. I really appreciate your time and most importantly, best of luck on Wednesday with your event.
Bob Wigley 32:23
Thank you very much indeed. And thank you for inviting me. It's been a great experience.