Levelling-up buoyed by the financial and related professional services industry

Press release
09 September 2022

In the decade leading up to 2020, total UK employment in financial and related professional services grew by a quarter of a million jobs (12.5%), according to new data from TheCityUK [1].

Over half the 250,000 additional roles were created outside London, with more than two-thirds of the 2.2m industry jobs now found outside the capital in towns and cities right across the UK.

The report, ‘Enabling growth across the UK 2022’, launched today at an event held at KPMG in Leeds with Mayor of West Yorkshire, Tracy Brabin, provides detailed data on the local, regional, and national employment and economic contribution of the financial and related professional services industry [2]. It also makes recommendations on how the industry can further support growth across the UK.

TheCityUK's data reveals that in the decade to 2020, all regions and nations of the UK have seen the value of their financial and related professional services output (GVA) grow by between 15 and 49 per cent.

The largest growth of the industry’s economic output outside the capital was in Wales (46%), the East of England (45%) and Northern Ireland (37%). The North West, Northern Ireland and the East of England showed the greatest percentage increases in local employment outside the capital, at 26%, 19% and 16%, respectively [3].

While London remained the UK’s largest financial centre in 2020, almost half the industry’s £238bn economic contribution (GVA), came from the rest of the UK in towns and cities like Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds and Manchester, all of which host more than 30,000 financial and related professional services jobs.

Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer, TheCityUK, said,
“This country’s financial and related professional services industry is a true UK-wide success story, one that brings growth and jobs to every part of the UK. The industry is a national asset that relies on the deep pools of talent and expertise found in towns and cities right across the UK. While the last 10 years have seen tremendous regional and national growth for our industry, we are confident we can do more to boost investment and continue to drive regional productivity growth. Businesses want to work even more closely with regional and national administrations to realise our shared goal of levelling up all parts of the UK.”

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “A successful West Yorkshire, the heart of the North, is key to the future economic success of the UK. I’m committed to working closely with the government to continue with their commitments to Levelling Up.

“Mayors across England provide a vehicle for investing in skills, infrastructure and business support. If we were given greater long-term funding, powers to tackle the climate emergency locally and timely delivery of vital infrastructure projects we could do more. Further devolution would empower mayors to make decisions to make our regions more productive and resilient, making a greater contribution to the UK economy, for the benefit of all our people.

“The financial and professional services industry has a key role to play in driving forward our regional economies. I look forward to working closely with businesses on these objectives to deliver a more prosperous West Yorkshire and a stronger UK economy.”

There are several key clusters of different financial and related professional services activities across the UK. After London, Birmingham is the second largest centre overall for financial and related professional services. Manchester is the UK’s biggest legal services and accounting centre; Edinburgh is a major international location for fund management; Edinburgh and Glasgow are important homes for the insurance sector; and Bristol has a significant legal services presence.

To encourage the industry’s role in the wider economy, TheCityUK has set out policy recommendations for national and regional administrations focusing on devolution, skills, infrastructure, and international trade:

Devolution and engagement

  • Now is the time to accelerate devolution in the regions and nations. The government should roll out the metro mayor model to cover all the English regions that want it.
  • Simultaneously, more power should be devolved to metro mayors and combined authorities. The report provides further examples on how this could be done.
  • Devolution deals should be as standardised as possible so there are clear expectations about which policy areas sit with national government and which with regional leaders.

Skills and talent

  • Central government should devolve much more power and funding around skills policy to local and regional government who are best placed to know what their area needs.
  • The government should reform the apprenticeship levy system in five areas we have identified to ensure that it is more flexible and can better meet the challenges of tomorrow. Infrastructure and investment

Infrastructure and investment

  • The government should commit to delivering the HS2 project as soon as possible and look at other transport investment – particularly on the rail network – to join up towns and cities across the UK.
  • The government should use every tool at its disposal to deliver additional quality and affordable housing at strategic locations close to business hubs around the UK.

Driving growth through international trade and green industries

  • The government should use its resources and expertise to partner with the regions to develop and support export strategies that can be delivered on a place-by-place basis, taking advantage of local strengths and connections.
  • The government should work urgently to identify the structures that can help promote sustainable investments over non-sustainable ones, and consider how the tax system can be used to incentivise the journey to net zero.