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Alastair Walmsley: How to support talented entrepreneurs

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The head of UK primary markets at the London Stock Exchange on developing the right environment to nurture talent

This is an excerpt from Securing Britain’s Future – read the full publication online now:
London business leaders tackle skills gaps, leadership issues, youth unemployment and workplace diversity

MY KEY IDEA

The UK must develop an environment that allows talent to thrive, so we can ensure our high-calibre individuals remain in this country to lead and grow great businesses. They must be supported by access to capital and advice. Founder and employee ownership of businesses should be encouraged. Traditional and new sectors should be supported equally. London Stock Exchange’s High Growth Segment is providing a new route to market for fastgrowth companies.

At London Stock Exchange we are always looking to give talented individuals and businesses the right environment in which to thrive. The City of London – and the UK as a whole – has long been centre of excellence for business leaders and budding entrepreneurs. London’s geographical position, rule of law, excellent market infrastructure and concentration of expertise are among many reasons talented individuals and firms choose to be based here. So how do we nurture this talent and let it flourish, to ensure that Britain retains this position as one of the leading global centres for business excellence?

There has always been strong international demand for British products and services, across sectors from financial services to technology, engineering and retail. Historically, we have been prolific exporters. While this shouldn’t change, we must ensure that we don’t export our most talented individuals.

By creating an environment here in the UK that fosters talent and provides capital for businesses to thrive, we will retain the highest-calibre individuals and inspire future generations of entrepreneurs and business leaders. We believe that today’s entrepreneurs have available to them an unrivalled ecosystem of advisers, analysts and investors in Britain that can support the expansion of their companies.

But there is always more that can be done. For example, we need to encourage founder and employee ownership so that a commitment to the company is retained, but more importantly, so that managers and staff can share directly in the success of each business. At the same time, we collectively must ensure companies have access to growth capital so that they can concentrate on their core business.

We need to focus on both traditional and new sectors. The technology sector is a good example, and one that requires a flexible approach to retaining and nurturing the talent that drives its growth. And we are having some success: London Stock Exchange has seen 20 technology companies admitted to our markets so far this year, the strongest showing since 2007. In March, we
launched the High Growth Segment to give a new route to market for these types of companies.

It appeals to entrepreneurs with exciting companies who need an injection of capital but want to retain a controlling stake in the business they’ve built. By allowing them to open up their business to investors with a minimum initial free float of just 10%, the High Growth Segment offers an alternative route to market to help talented leaders achieve their vision and see their companies flourish.

The blue-chips of tomorrow always start as the acorns of today; let’s keep them growing in Britain.

Alastair Walmsley is head of UK primary markets at the London Stock Exchange

This is an excerpt from Securing Britain’s Future – read the full publication online now:
London business leaders tackle skills gaps, leadership issues, youth unemployment and workplace diversity

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