Scottish finance exports grow faster than London

Growth in exports of Scotland’s financial services is significantly outpacing expansion of the sector in London, according to a new report highlighting the strength of the UK’s regional finance sectors.

Edinburgh's finance firms have helped Scotland become the UK's third biggest region for finance services exports. Picture: Jon Savage

Scotland exported £7.2 billion of financial and related professional services in 2017, representing a 7.4 per cent increase from the previous year, research from industry body TheCityUK found.

Of the Scottish total, £3.6bn was exported from eastern Scotland, driven by Edinburgh’s financial district.

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Over the same period, the latest for which figures are available, the equivalent exports from London increased by 4.4 per cent.

Scotland is now the UK’s third-biggest exporter of such services, behind London with an estimated £50bn and south-east England with £10.8bn.

This represents a continued growth spurt for the industry in Scotland which, along with Wales, enjoyed the largest expansion in outgoing finance services of any UK nation or region between 2012 and 2016, at a rate of 7 per cent. This compared with just 2 per cent growth in the UK capital over the same four-year period.

According to ONS data, Scottish financial exports accounted for 8 per cent of the British total from the sector in 2016, while related professional services exports north of the Border made up 4 per cent of the UK-wide figures.

Although the report names London as the UK’s dominant hub for international finance, it highlights the fact that industry export growth in several of the country’s regions and nations has beaten that of the capital over the past five years.

Almost half of Britain’s £96.9bn financial and related professional services exports came from outside London in 2017.

The study claims that the financial services industry contributes more than 10 per cent of the UK’s total economic output and supports 2.3 million jobs, with two thirds of these based outside London.

Anjalika Bardalai, chief economist and head of research at TheCityUK, said: “The industry’s multi-billion pound exports from Scotland, and in particular eastern Scotland, contributed to a financial and related professional services trade surplus of around £75bn in 2017.

“In most of the UK’s regions and nations, this industry is the largest services exporter, and a significant local source of jobs and economic output.

“There is a common misconception that financial and related professional services are only of value to ‘the City’ of London. This report helps to debunk this myth, showing clearly that the industry is a UK-wide success story. London and the regions and nations all play a role in making the UK a world-leading international financial centre.”

TheCityUK has been named a member of the government’s strategic trade advisory group to advise on trade policy issues, including post-Brexit agreements with the US, Australia and New Zealand.