Fiona Rintoul – writer, journalist, translator

Category: Opinion

Bonjour tristesse

Posted on July 15th, by admin in Opinion. No Comments

I write to you from Leipzig, a city I first visited 30 years ago when it lay behind the Iron Curtain. Back then, I needed a visa to visit, which took months to obtain. I could never have dreamt that Leipzig would one day lie within the European Community of which my country was already a member or that my country would vote to leave that community.

For anyone who has lived a life in Europe, Brexit is a devastating blow. For this magazine, whose raison d’être has been to promote a single market for investment funds in Europe. For your business, whether you sell from the UK or into the UK or simply appreciate the unique contribution that the UK has made to financial services in Europe. For the 27 countries now left to make the union work without the awkward squad.

Above all, as is now apparent, the Brexit vote was a colossal act of self-harm. As everyone in the fund industry knows, no country has benefited more from the single market in financial services than the UK. No country has been more active in selling its fund management expertise across borders than the UK. And what is the plan … Read More »

Herald agenda: grasp the thistle

Posted on July 12th, by admin in Opinion. No Comments

Farewell London, hello Edinburgh has been a persistent refrain in the UK finance sector since the Brexit vote. Facing the loss of their European passport, London-based firms are looking to relocate. Luxembourg and Dublin are the obvious choices but Edinburgh is in the mix too. Lord Turner, former head of the Financial Services Authority, has told Le Monde the city could take over as Europe’s leading financial centre.

This shows both how friable the Union between Scotland and England has become and how solid Edinburgh’s and Scotland’s skills are in the sector. While Luxembourg and Dublin are primarily administrative centres, Edinburgh has the money management expertise that makes the wheels of industry whirr and spin.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon presumably knows this. Scottish Financial Enterprise (SFE) was among the business groups going through the door at Bute House after the Brexit vote.

Whether SFE and the First Minister share a vision for the future is another matter. Edinburgh’s finance sector was not a fervent supporter of Scottish independence in 2014. But financiers are nothing if not pragmatic and the curtain has lifted on a new act. To remain within a polity that stages a cavalier referendum to lance a boil within one political … Read More »

Nothing’s as certain as uncertainty

Posted on November 6th, by admin in Opinion. No Comments

On November 9 it will be 25 years since the Berlin Wall fell. The Wall’s collapse was preceded by a couple of months of popular unrest in East Germany. The epicentre was Leipzig, where, on October 9, 1989, a month before the Wall was finally torn down, 70,000 demonstrators faced down a massive, heavily armed security presence to march peacefully through their city centre in one of the most impressive displays of civil courage seen in Europe since the war.

Monday pro-democracy demonstration in Leipzig, October 1989

I hear that a former Chancellor of Germany, Helmut Kohl, is making out the Wall’s eventual collapse had nothing to do with these people. I disagree. That night in Leipzig the people looked into the eyes of the East German regime and saw it for the paper tiger it always was. They lost their fear, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Back then I worked for a publisher of academic journals and so I paid no mind to how professional investors reacted to this event. I hope they were pleased. But, to be frank, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they weren’t. Because it probably created a bit of uncertainty.

Now, … Read More »