Finance exports growing fastest outside the capital

A new report from TheCityUK shows that while London remains the UK’s main hub for international finance, industry export growth in several of the country’s regions and nations has been faster than in the capital over the past five years.

According to TheCityUK estimates in the ‘Exporting from across Britain 2019’ report, almost half of Britain’s £96.9bn financial and related professional services exports came from outside London in 2017.

Between 2012 and 2016, Scottish and Welsh industry exports underwent the largest expansion, showing average annual growth of 7%. This compares to 2% annual average industry export growth in London across the period.

The North East and West Midlands also showed strong growth across this period, with industry exports growing by an average of 6% and 5% each year respectively.

In terms of absolute exports, the South East (£10.8bn) is the largest exporter outside London (£50bn), followed by Scotland (£7.2bn) and the North West (£5.9bn). For international context, in 2017 the North West’s financial services exports were equivalent to nearly 40% of the total financial services exports of France. Greater Manchester’s financial services exports alone are now roughly equivalent to the total financial services exports of Austria.

Anjalika Bardalai, Chief Economist and Head of Research, TheCityUK, said,

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, including international finance, 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.

“The industry’s multi-billion pound exports from areas such as Eastern Scotland, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands 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.”

In 2016, financial services were the largest exporting services sector in all British regions and nations except the South East, where ‘real estate, professional, scientific and technical services’ took the top spot. Taken together, financial and related professional services exports as a percentage of total regional services exports ranged between 27% in the South East to 50% in Wales.

For the first time, TheCityUK’s ‘Exporting from across Britain’ report also contains sub-regional (NUTS2) data on industry exports. These new data show that out of a total of 40 sub-regions in Great Britain, 15 have financial services exports in excess of £1bn.