Overseas investors see Scotland buck finance jobs trend

Scotland attracted more than half of the jobs created by foreign investors in the UK’s financial services sector last year, according to a report out today.
The eight financial services FDI projects secured in Scotland last year created 3,000 jobs. Picture: Jon Savage.The eight financial services FDI projects secured in Scotland last year created 3,000 jobs. Picture: Jon Savage.
The eight financial services FDI projects secured in Scotland last year created 3,000 jobs. Picture: Jon Savage.

Strong growth in Scotland’s share of foreign direct investment (FDI) in the industry also saw it buck the trend of falling project numbers seen in the UK and Europe, the EY UK Attractiveness Report for Financial Services 2020 revealed.

The eight financial services FDI projects secured in Scotland last year created an estimated 2,911 jobs – more than three times the employment number for London (806) and more than half the UK total (4,443).

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At a city level, Glasgow was the second-most attractive city in the UK for financial services FDI in 2019, having attracted more than three times the number of projects than Edinburgh. Glasgow also secured Europe’s largest international investment project in terms of job creation, with US financial services titan JPMorgan Chase’s committing to a new multi-million-pound base for its technology operations in Glasgow.

The bank’s new centre, in a 13-storey building in Argyle Street in the city’s international financial services district, will eventually house about 2,000 technology specialists.

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At the UK level, Scotland was the second-most attractive location for financial services FDI in 2019 for the seventh consecutive year, with its share of investment into the UK increasing from 6.3 per cent in 2018 to 8.1 per cent in 2019. The sector’s contribution to Scotland’s overall FDI figures also increased from 7.4 per cent in 2018 to 7.9 per cent last year.

Sue Dawe, EY’s head of financial services in Scotland, said: “In a year where both Europe and the UK experienced a fall in their numbers of financial services foreign investment projects, it is positive to see Scotland demonstrating relative resilience and bucking the trend with an increase in project numbers.

“Across all sectors, Scotland is an attractive proposition for foreign investors, as demonstrated by the increase in the total number of FDI projects in 2019. This legacy of appeal and strong performance offers confidence in Scotland’s ability to continue to secure healthy numbers of FDI as we emerge from Covid-19.

“As the economy shifts to become increasingly digital, sustainable and inclusive, the financial services sector must continue to innovate and evolve in order to remain at the forefront of change and hold its position as an international leader.”

Overall, the UK continues to be Europe’s most attractive location for international investment into financial services, with 99 projects recorded in 2019. While UK project numbers were down 11.6 per cent from the year before, financial services FDI across the whole of Europe fell by 12.6 per cent from 2018, when Europe saw a record number of projects ahead of Brexit.

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