History has an ironic way of repeating itself. Although in different terms and under different circumstances, we may be seeing the destruction of Canary Wharf – similar to the events of 13 year ago when the Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and left a devastating blow on London’s financial sweetheart.
The pandemic has altered the way we think, move, work and live, with these changes most likely becoming permanent ways rather than temporary adjustments. Working from home and the digital age of working has become the norm, with employees gaining much comfort from their new working from home life style. No more crowded tubes, no more early morning commutes, no more unnecessary spending at lunch and no more awkward conversation with the colleagues you don’t particularly like.
Canary Wharf houses not only the investment and commercial banks but also the Big 4 accounting firms. Ultimately the Big 4 aren’t just operating within a singular UK office, they have counterparts across London as well as up and down the country. Given this, the demise of Canary Wharf doesn’t seem too troublesome for the accounting sector.
The Canary Wharf argument seems to be a barrier in understanding what really matters in the post pandemic recovery; i.e. are firms going to be able to complete the digital transition much sooner than anticipated? There is a necessity for any firm in any finance related industry to begin the inevitable transition to the digital world. The transition has already started given the way the world is moving, however the need for an expedited shift has become ever more prevalent.
The chiefs of the financial districts biggest players have come to a consensus that current interior design plans may need to be rethought, and the way to prompt the revival of Canary Wharf is through the introduction of collaborative spaces and technology hubs. The idea that the week will be split between working from home and in office working, coupled with innovative working spaces to accommodate, will allow for a prosperous working climate, and in turn, spin the wheel of revival into the canary wharf district.
Accountants in London in general need not to worry about the Canary Wharf situation, as they are equipped to transition anywhere across the country, with the East London hub a small fraction of the nationwide labour allocation. Instead, accounting firms should prioritise a digital revitalisation of their operations, centralising focus around creating spaces where collaboration and innovation are the forefront, and location becomes an insignificant factor when looking at the bigger picture of the post pandemic revival.