City is the shop window for UK financial services

BRITAIN offers many attractions to international investors: it has an increasingly competitive tax environment, leading universities, the perfect timezone for business with the US and Asia, the English language and the standard rule of law.

“All of those things create the right environment for the UK to compete in a fast-changing world,” said Chris Cummings, chief executive of TheCityUK.

“Those get us into the race, but to win the race, we have got to have a shop window, a compelling reason for people to even bother looking at the UK.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

“Like it or not, London is a great shop window. As the number one financial centre for the world, it is probably the world’s number one shop window.

“But it is only a fraction of the story because if and when people arrive in the UK they quickly want to spread operations around the rest of the country and access that talent pool. We have some national advantages, but we have some local and regional advantages too.”

The lobby group visited Leeds on Tuesday evening to launch its new report looking at how financial and related professional services contribute to the wider UK economy.

The report said regional employment in financial services totals 128,600, representing 5.8 per cent of the Yorkshire workforce. It said the Leeds city region is the UK’s second largest centre for banking. The report also highlights the strong presence of financial services in Sheffield and Halifax.

Mr Cummings said some people believe that financial services is based in “shiny towers” in the City of London.

He told the audience: “That’s obviously a myth that we are keen to scotch and that’s not just because I’m a Yorkshireman, but because I see the work financial and professional services does across the whole of the UK.”