Expanding horizons for the region’s financial sector

Anjalika Bardalai

It’s not the sector that first comes to mind when discussing the UK’s overseas sales success stories.

Industries like advanced manufacturing may make the headlines, but financial and professional services are doing their bit for Britain when it comes to exports.

The UK’s trade surplus in financial services of £59bn in 2016 was almost double that of the US – the world’s second-largest net exporter of financial services.

Figures from industry group TheCityUK reveal that 2016 was a highly successful year for financial and related professional services exports, which rose by 15.8 per cent.

And the North West played a part in that success. The region’s financial services exports were equivalent to around one-third of those of the whole of France.

The North West exported more than £6.6bn of financial and related professional services, up 13 per cent from nearly £5.9bn in 2015, according to TheCityUK numbers.

As its report says it is “an important contribution.”

Those exports from the North West accounted for 67 per cent of its financial services GVA in 2015, according to ONS data.

The export report’s authors say: “As the UK’s largest financial and related professional services centre and the world’s leading international hub for such services, London inevitably leads the UK’s exports of these services.

“But the idea that London sells financial and related professional services overseas and the rest of the UK focuses on domestic activity is highly misleading.”

TheCityUK’s chief economist Anjalika Bardalai adds: “Each of Britain’s regions and nations have an opportunity – supported by the right policies and a conducive business environment – to continue to sell their financial and professional products and services abroad, contributing to prosperity at home.”

Financial services proved to be the biggest exporting service sector in every British region in 2016.

Bardalai says: “The story we wanted to show in this report was that it is not all about London.”