Scotland's financial services industry outstrips London

Scotland's financial services sector is outstripping London's when it comes to jobs growth, after 10,000 posts were added in the past year.

Financial and related professional services account for about 9% of the Scottish economy. Picture: Contributed

The number of people employed in the financial and related professional services industry north of the Border grow by 6.6 per cent from 151,000 to 161,000 in the last year, a new report today reveals.

That compares with London – the UK’s largest financial centre – which saw its overall headcount grow by 5 per cent, according to the latest research by industry body TheCityUK.

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Financial and related professional services account for about 9 per cent of the Scottish economy, making the largest area contribution outside London.

The study noted Scotland’s “particular strengths in banking, life assurance and pensions”. The country is also a renowned “centre of excellence” in investment management and data science, and has an emerging financial technology (fintech) community.

News of the increasing industry headcounts on both sides of the Border comes despite fears of a jobs exodus in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, said: “One in every 14 British jobs is in financial and related professional services. These ‘City jobs’ aren’t just confined to London, they’re in financial clusters all across the UK, in cities such as Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester.

“The ongoing strength of our financial centres across the country underlines what a national success story this industry is. Building on this success will need a supportive business environment and greater emphasis on local expertise and local decision making. A one-size-fits-all approach simply won’t be good enough.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This report reinforces Scotland’s position as the UK’s leading financial services hub outside London.

“Scotland offers a combination of a well-established financial services sector and ongoing innovation, with many global companies already based here.

“The Scottish Government is committed to helping equip the industry for the future by leveraging Scotland’s expertise in financial technology so we can play a leading role in the continued growth and transformation of the sector.”

The “Enabling Growth across the UK 2018” report shows that while London remains the UK’s largest financial centre, the industry is a “national asset”, making a significant economic contribution to regional and national economies.

In Scotland this amounted to £12 billion in 2016 and collectively across the UK made a contribution of £174bn, with two thirds of the 2.3 million industry jobs based outside London.

The report also makes a series of recommendations to enhance the industry’s role in the broader economy. It recently appointed a network of “City Chairs” in financial centres across the UK who will help drive these recommendations forward as they “champion and promote” the industry within and between their cities and regions and nations.