LONDON (Reuters) - Britain should build on London's role as Europe's financial stronghold and the continent should play to that to compete with other financial hubs, which should be a key issue as Britons consider their future in Europe, HSBC's chairman said.
"Europe is much more coherent as an enlarged area including the UK," Douglas Flint told a conference on Thursday, when asked about the City of London's role in a UK referendum due next year on whether to stay in the European Union.
"I think Europe needs a strong financial center. London is the dominant financial center in Europe and can go toe to toe with anywhere else in the world and Europe should play on that strength and the UK should develop that strength," Flint said.
He added Britain's European future was also a key issue for international banks based in London.
"Access to the single market access is hugely important, so those who use the UK as base from which to passport into Europe it's fundamental," he said at a securities industry conference.
(Reporting by Steve Slater; Editing by David Holmes)