Scotland more attractive than ever to financial services investors despite Covid

Scotland is increasingly attractive to overseas financial services firms looking to set up new bases, despite the number of inward investments falling last year.

EY's Sue Dawe says sentiment towards Scotland among investors bodes well for the future.

Although the six foreign direct investments (FDI) in the sector recorded in Scotland last year was two fewer than the previous year, the nation fared better than the UK as a whole during the most difficult year in recent history and continued its decade-long trend as the most attractive UK location outside London.

EY’s latest UK Attractiveness Survey for Financial Services also found the appeal of Scotland for future investment in the UK has also risen from 5 per cent in 2019 to an all-time high of 15 per cent in 2021.

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The six projects attracted to Scotland were more than one in ten of the 56 seen across the UK, which represented a 43 per cent fall from 2019. However, the UK continues to be the most attractive European market for global FDI.

Edinburgh, now the UK’s top city for total FDI outside London, recorded three FS projects in 2020 and Glasgow, now in the top ten most attractive cities in Europe, also recorded three FS projects.

Sue Dawe, EY Scotland’s managing partner for financial services, said the figures highlighted how Scotland has “demonstrated huge outward strength on the global stage” despite a highly challenging backdrop.

“A decline in projects would usually be concerning, but considering the wider UK and European picture, Scotland’s relatively small market has actually outperformed many other countries, and the news that its attractiveness as an investment location has tripled over two years is hugely encouraging,” she said.

“Scotland has a successful and deeply-established financial services ecosystem, with strong links between industry, government and our education institutions. This is particularly important to highlight to potential investors looking to establish and grow their financial services products and offerings."

Earlier this month Australian fintech firm BlackArrow Financial Solutions announced it will be moving its headquarters to Glasgow. It will create 45 new software developer and technical support jobs in the city. The company, which also has offices in Dublin and Sydney, received a £573,000 grant from Scottish Enterprise to run its global operations from an existing office in Glasgow.

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