Capital Gains

One of the most visited cities in the world, London is also a thriving business centre and has earned tech hub status for start-ups.

The City of London’s reputation is based around it being a centre of finance while the city’s economy as a whole has been shaped by its openness to trade. The UK was ranked third highest among the G8 economies (behind Canada and Germany), with a trade to GDP ratio of 61.6%. 

Financial services account for a large slice of London’s economy, and this sector is reflected in the city’s exports, followed closely by travel services, real estate and professional, scientific and technical activities sectors. Professional, scientific and technical activities make up for the largest number of jobs in the capital. The biggest single export market is the US – ahead of a number of European countries – with the likes of China, Australia and India becoming increasingly important according to GLA Economics statistics. 

Moreover, privately-held start-up companies – known as unicorn companies – are drawn to the capital as London is the top choice for international tech hub scale-up businesses, attracting more foreign direct investment than any other city in 2018, according to figures by London & Partners. London’s thriving technology ecosystem has helped some 17 companies surpass the US$1billion valuation mark since 2010, over double the amount of other major tech cities such as Berlin and Paris. It has also helped shape the city as something of a mini Silicon Valley. London currently houses over a quarter of the 64 total unicorn businesses across Europe and predictions are that it will be home to 25% of the new European billion-dollar companies created over the next few years. 

Brexit is the one cloud on the horizon. At the time of going to press, what will happen with Brexit was still unclear but whatever the outcome, London remains open to business, talent and investment from around the world. Among those global companies banking on a post Brexit Britain are Apple, opening a new London campus in 2021 for 1,400 staff; Google with a new HQ for 4,500 staff and LinkedIn with a new UK HQ in London.

Another huge contribution to the London economy is tourism, as London is a truly cultural metropolis, be it for the city’s architecture, iconic landmarks, live events, shopping experiences and history stretching back to the Roman times. Over 17 million visitors flock to the city each year. The Tower of London tops the list of the most visited attractions, followed by West End shows. Other must-see sights include the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

Some £2.8 billion is generated each year in overall event leisure tourism (from events such as the Olympics and Rugby World Cup), while domestic day visitors add a further £1.87 billion to the city’s coffers and an additional £644m comes from annual international visitors, with Americans being the single largest nationality to our shores.

Hotel accommodation provides somewhere to sleep for the mega rich as well as those on a budget. Black cabs and Uber drivers are in abundance across the capital but the quickest way to get around is by London Underground to avoid the almost constant traffic snarl-ups. British food – not so long ago the butt of jokes – has come on in leaps and bounds and today, modern British cuisine is highly regarded, available across High Street restaurant chains, gastro pubs and Michelin-starred restaurants. although Italian, Chinese and Indian food remains as popular as ever.

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  • The business attire is relaxed but be safe and wear dark-coloured suits
  • Business lunches are often part of doing business
  • The Brits value timekeeping so be punctual
  • Gift giving is not a normal part of British business etiquette
  • Business proceedings can be slow and bureaucratic

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  • London is a multi-ethnic city and over 300 languages are spoken
  • London has a population of 8.136 million, the largest population of any city in the EU
  • London has more than 1,500 hotels across all categories
  • London has over 170 museums, the largest being the British Museum
  • London was founded by the Romans about 2,000 years ago and called Londinium and there are traces of Roman London all over the city
  • The colour purple was invented in London
  • London has the world’s oldest underground train system
  • London has 69 Michelin-starred restaurants
  • London boasts 40% green open space

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