The rise of UK cities beyond London

30 October 2023

The UK’s financial and related professional services industry is not a tale of one city. It is a national story; one that is increasingly diverse and that drives growth and opportunity in towns and cities right across the UK. Two thirds of the nearly 2.5 million people who work in financial and related professional services are based outside London. Major firms are setting up new offices and innovation hubs, moving teams and divisions, and building out their senior leadership teams in many thriving financial hubs across the regions and nations.

Government and the industry’s regulatory bodies are also making similar moves; HM Treasury has established its new Economic Campus in Darlington and institutions like the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have expanded their footprint in the North of England.

In this blog, we spotlight some of the industry’s thriving financial hubs and the factors which link them.

Barclays in Glasgow

Barclays established a new campus in Tradeston in 2022 as part of its global locations strategy, selecting the city for its skills workforce and Scotland’s robust financial services expertise. The campus is now home to its Technology, Operations and Functions Teams and has delivered job opportunities, particularly in high-skill technology roles, through partnerships with local universities. The campus is also the headquarter of Barclays Eagle Lab, a space dedicated to nurturing technology startups, innovation, entrepreneurship, and skill development in emerging technologies.

PwC in Manchester

In 2021, PwC unveiled plans for a tech centre in Manchester. The city was chosen for its esteemed educational institutions, abundant local talent, effective local authorities, and liveability. Since the opening of this centre, PwC has been enhancing its presence in the region and leading the North West Tech Talent coalition. It has also continued to invest in the region by installing a new client experience, ‘Frictionless Futures’, featuring an immersive space in the form of physical pop-up store and workshop spaces for clients to collaborate.

Citi in Belfast

Citi established its presence in Belfast in 2005 with 375 employees. Since then, Citi has grown exponentially to over 4,000 employees across four locations within the city. The firm was drawn to Belfast due to the collaborative environment fostered by government, public, private, and academic communities, as well as its strategic location and the exceptional local talent and world-class universities. Belfast’s geographical proximity to both the UK and Dublin has also contributed to its attractiveness for business operations. Citi is the only global investment bank to operate locally. It is the largest US-based employer, and the largest provider of financial services in Northern Ireland.

Triggers for investment

It is clear from these examples that access to talent, political support, thriving private sectors and strong connectivity are factors that act as triggers for investment from global firms who are looking for new opportunities and locations to grow their business. Civic leaders aspiring to attract more investment from financial and related professional services to their town or city should focus on strategies to deliver such supportive environments.

To learn more about the contribution the industry makes across the UK’s regions and nations, don’t miss the opportunity to join our 2023 National Conference on 23 November in Manchester. Find out more and register to attend here.

Matt Kelcher photo
Matt Kelcher Head of Public Affairs

Matt Kelcher is TheCityUK’s Head of Public Affairs, a post he has held since August 2021, and leads the organisation’s efforts to influence political stakeholders and policy makers. Matt has always worked in and around politics. He began his career as researcher and an advisor in Westminster and local government, before working in public affairs for a trade association representing the UK’s charity shops and the General Medical Council. He has also served as a local Councillor, Chair of Scrutiny and Chair of Planning in the London Borough of Brent.