The Garrulous Jay – Securonomics

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Remember where you heard it first… My first encounter with the word “securonomics” was this week in the foreword of Financing Growth – Labour’s Plan For Financial Services. But what did I learn from this policy page-turner?

First, I now understand that securonomics – Labour’s economic approach – “is about offering an alternative to financial instability and economic insecurity”. Am I the only one who thinks that sounds ever so slightly like “no more boom and bust”. What must Gordon be thinking?

Beyond this there is a six-point plan that is something of a curate’s egg. There are some potentially sensible suggestions. There are some Conservative policies kitted out as Labour ideas. And there are some pretty unrealistic and confused proposals that probably won’t work when they make contact with economic and financial reality.

Oh, and there are some slightly bizarre turns of phrase too: “Our financial sector can be a vehicle for growth not just from the top down, but from the bottom up and the middle out.” Err, OK!

“Delivering inclusive growth” is laudable, but I’m not sure unlocking the full potential of the mutuals sector is part of the answer. It doesn’t feel especially locked-up at the moment.

“A more joined up and innovation-centred approach to regulation” sounds very like what we had under a previous Labour government at time when, in April 2004, the aforesaid Mr Brown, in his role as Chancellor, opened Lehman Brothers new European HQ.

“Longer-term fixed rate mortgages” are a good idea, giving borrowers greater certainty whilst bringing the UK more into line with other countries.

Closing the financial ‘advice gap’ is unarguably desirable. Part of the answer may be to “leverage data and emerging technologies like AI to produce widely accessible and affordable financial guidance tools”, but this would need to be approached with great care.

“Open Finance”, with greater data and information sharing between companies should sharpen up competition beyond the banking sector. But the latter shows clearly consumers’ reticence to move providers. Combined with more access to advice this could work.

I struggle to see how securities tokenisation can “provide access to new asset classes”, but maybe I’m too old to understand.

And then there’s all the stuff about reinvigorating our capital markets with the predictable lament that nobody wants to invest or list in the UK any more. Here the report unintentionally nails the problem…

First it states that, “in 2000, UK pension funds and insurers held 39% of shares listed on the London Stock Exchange; in 2020 they held just 4%.”

Then it says, “UK pension savers are missing out on higher long-term returns from growth assets.”

Not so… UK savers are not missing out precisely because their pension fund managers have invested overseas! Persuading UK institutional investors to direct more funds into UK assets requires the UK economy to nurture and promote more advanced, higher growth infrastructure and businesses.

That’s about much more than just financial services, and and it’ll take more than just one term in office.