British Government Overhauls Financial Sector

The British government has unveiled sweeping changes to its financial regulations, which lawmakers say will help spur future growth in the industry.

The package of 30 new measures includes a relaxation of the rules that require banks to separate their retail operations from their investment arms, and a review of rules around the accountability of top financial executives.

The wide-reaching changes, called the “Edinburgh Reforms,” also includes reviews of the rules on short-selling, how companies list on stock exchanges, insurers’ balance sheets, and Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs).

British Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said the changes are aimed at ensuring the United Kingdom’s status as “one of the most open, dynamic and competitive financial services hubs in the world.”

The government is billing the financial reforms as a way to capitalize on the freedoms offered by Brexit, which is when the United Kingdom chose to leave the European Union (EU).

Many argue that leaving the EU has damaged the U.K.’s financial competitiveness, with data showing that London has lost billions of Euros in stock and derivatives trading to European exchanges.

The financial reforms also come as the U.K. faces what is expected to be a protracted recession in the coming year, and as consumers struggle with inflation that is running near 10% currently.